New program to help young Tulsans succeed

TULSA, OK – Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Ballmer Group announced this week that Tulsa was selected as one of ten American cities that will participate in a new national initiative to identify, pilot, and measure the success of interventions to accelerate economic mobility for their residents. NextUp, a new program administered by Tulsa Community WorkAdvance (TCW), a successful evidence-based non-profit organization, will serve as the key partner for the initiative. The City of Tulsa will serve as the government agency partner.

Through this initiative, Tulsa will help youth aged 18 to 24 who are not currently employed or in school access education and training for high-quality jobs. Data points to more than 11,000 individuals in this age group that are not working or currently in school in the Tulsa region. Tulsa’s efforts are designed to help improve residents’ long-term economic mobility.

“While Tulsa is experiencing an economic resurgence, studies show that economic mobility for many Americans is not what it was for previous generations,” Mayor G.T. Bynum said. “This initiative gives Tulsa a chance to be a true laboratory of democracy in service to the American Dream of equal opportunity. I want to thank Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Ballmer Group for their support of the City of Tulsa and Tulsa Community WorkAdvance as we engage in this important work.”

NextUp focuses on youth aging out of the Oklahoma foster system and high school graduates without plans for work or continuing education. Both NextUp and TCW build stable and productive lives through no-cost technical training, job placement, career coaching, and career readiness training. NextUp was created with support from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and a Tulsa Area United Way Social Innovation Grant.

Over the next 18 months, Tulsa will pilot and measure the early impacts of NextUp, which provides the direction and skills needed for young adults to find their first jobs, complete a GED, enroll in short-term technical training and learn about new occupations and career pathways. NextUp participants can enroll in training offered through TCW’s programs or pursue other educational opportunities through community schools. The NextUp program is entirely no-cost to participants, and strategic community partnerships will provide additional resources missing in the lives of this age group. By 2025, data shows that 77 percent of jobs will require post-secondary education. NextUp will help create a pipeline of educated and qualified workers.

Tulsa will also work closely with other cities participating in the initiative to share lessons and experiences to further advance the work and build a model for future collaboration among cities on the topic.

The defining characteristic of the American Dream is upward mobility, but new data from Opportunity Insights shows that the current generation’s chances of earning more than their parents are declining. In many communities, young people and families face significant barriers to climbing the economic ladder based on the neighborhoods in which they live.

The ten cities participating in the economic mobility initiative are:
Albuquerque, NM; Cincinnati, OH; Dayton, OH; Detroit, MI; Lansing, MI; New Orleans, LA; Newark, NJ; Racine, WI; Rochester, NY; and Tulsa, OK.