Cowen Institute Receives USA Funds Grant To Reconnect Opportunity Youth to Education, Employment

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Media Contact:

Mary Lee Murphy


Cowen Institute Receives USA Funds Grant  

To Reconnect Opportunity Youth to Education, Employment

Grant Supports Earn and Learn and the Anchor Initiatives

 (December 11, 2014 – New Orleans, LA) – The Cowen Institute at Tulane University has received a $500,000 grant from USA Funds to support programs designed to reconnect Opportunity Youth to education and employment. Opportunity Youth are young people, ages 16-24, who are neither in school nor working.

The USA Funds grant will help double the number of young adults served by the Cowen Institute’s Earn and Learn Career Pathways program in each of the next two years and support the recruitment of additional employers to participate in the project. The initiative is designed to provide New Orleans Opportunity Youth with on-the-job training and a certificate in a high-demand career.

Sparked by Scott Cowen’s work on the White House Council for Community Solutions while he was president of Tulane, the Cowen Institute launched the Reconnecting Opportunity Youth initiative in 2012. Through this initiative, the Cowen Institute strives to address the needs of the estimated 30,000 Opportunity Youth in the New Orleans area and in turn strengthen the New Orleans community and economy through approaches that are tailored to local demands.

Through its partnership with the Cowen Institute, USA Funds aims to advance its national focus on Completion With a Purpose, to connect individuals to education, training and rewarding careers.

“The Cowen Institute has developed a promising model to enhance opportunities for disadvantaged young adults by shortening the time it takes them to earn a postsecondary credential, providing on-the-job skills, and preparing them for high-demand careers,” said William D. Hansen, USA Funds president and CEO. “We’re delighted to support the expansion of this initiative because it aligns with our focus on Completion With a Purpose to better connect educational outcomes with long-term success in the workforce.”

The Earn and Learn program enrolls Opportunity Youth in a yearlong apprenticeship that combines on-the-job training with career-focused technical and academic training through the Accelerated Career Education (ACE) program at Delgado Community College. Apprenticeships are focused on one of two high-growth sectors: skilled crafts/advanced manufacturing and creative digital media/IT. Upon completion of the apprenticeship, each participant will receive an industry-­based credential, and staff will help them find long-­term employment or additional training pursuits.

To replicate and share best practices from the Earn and Learn program, the Cowen Institute’s Anchor initiative will create high-value, on-the-job learning and training models based on the Earn and Learn program, to improve the skills and quality of the region’s workforce by serving as an intermediary between young people, employers, schools and youth service providers. It will serve as a single point of engagement for employers and youth for developing workplace-based learning experiences such as internships and apprenticeships.

Cowen, who serves as a senior advisor to the Cowen Institute, stated, “A crucial component of any sustainable solution for the disconnected youth crisis is employer engagement. These programs are unique because they were designed to meet the needs of both employers and Opportunity Youth. We are delighted that USA Funds has chosen to invest in these endeavors.”

About USA Funds

USA Funds is a nonprofit corporation that supports Completion With a Purpose, building a more purposeful path for America’s students to and through college and on to rewarding careers and successful lives. USA Funds pursues its nonprofit mission through philanthropic activities and partnerships, policy research, and programs and services that enhance preparation for, access to and success in higher education. Learn more at

About the Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives

The Cowen Institute’s mission is to advance the success of New Orleans children and young adults on their educational pathways.  Launched in early 2007, the Cowen Institute chronicles and assesses the impact that education restructuring has had on New Orleans youth and families.  We promote the practical application of our research findings to strengthen learning environments, develop programs, and advance effective public policies. In partnership with leaders and educators, we strive to enhance the success of K-12 public education and to boost career options for unemployed, out-of-school youth.  Embedded in an anchor institution, the Cowen Institute leverages Tulane University to further this work.  For more information visit

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