The Aspen Forum for Community Solutions Holds Convening in Boston Addressing Opportunity Youth

Photo Credit: Chris Acevedo The Loop Lab

Damon T. Hewitt, President and Executive Director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Marshall Ganz, Rita E. Hauser Senior Lecturer in Leadership, Organizing, and Civil Society, Harvard Kennedy School, John F. Kennedy, Pam Eddinger, President of Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC), and Cory McCarthy, Chief of Student Support, Boston Public Schools are among the exceptional line-up of speakers for the two-day forum

What: The Aspen Forum for Community Solutions Opportunity Youth Forum cross-site Spring convening will take place in Boston, Massachusetts on May 21st to May 22nd.  The Opportunity Youth Network (OYF), in partnership with the Boston Opportunity Youth Agenda, will convene its network of national, state, and local community partners, youth leaders, organizers, and philanthropic partners to address the number of youth that are neither earning or learning – about 6 million young people in the United States.

Opportunity Youth are young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither enrolled in school nor participating in the labor market. Nearly a million-opportunity youth live in Opportunity Youth Forum communities. These communities reach from Seattle to Greenville, MS, and from New York City to the Hopi Tribe; and from Southern Maine to Hawai’i.

When: (Updated schedule)
Tuesday, May 21, 2024, 8:00 am – 6:00 p.m. EST.
Wednesday, May 22, 2024, 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. EST

A full list of the speakers can be viewed here. The all day agenda can be viewed here.

WhereHilton Boston Park Plaza, 50 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116 (Plenaries will be held in the Grand Ballroom on the mezzanine level)

Tuesday Plenary Sessions: Democracy in Action: Voices and Visions for an Inclusive Future
8:00 AM-9:45 AM

Grand Ballroom – Mezzanine Level

Winning the battle to achieve a more equitable, just, inclusive, and multiracial democracy requires the participation of everyone. We need young adult allies building transformative, intergenerational partnerships with elders. We need multiracial coalitions that center solidarity, mutuality, and humanity in their efforts to make the promise of “democracy for all” real. The opening plenary of the Aspen Opportunity Youth Forum will bring leaders together from a diverse range of experiences, who are all working to perfect our democracy and ensure that communities – especially communities of color – play a meaningful role in shaping our future

  • Steve Patrick, Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions (Moderator)
  • Hikma Sherka, Program Director, Youth Engagement, Every Hour Counts
  • Eugene Appiah, Leader, Texas Emerging Leaders Board
  • Damon Hewitt, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • Chrissy Castro, Chair of the Los Angeles City & County Native American Indian Commission
  • Cristóbal Alex, Founding Executive Director of the Latino Victory Project

Wednesday Plenary Sessions: Racial Justice Organizing in Boston: An Intergenerational Conversation

8:00 AM-9:45 AM
Grand Ballroom – Mezzanine Level

This multi-generational plenary panel on racial justice in Boston brings together voices from diverse age groups to spark a dialogue on racial justice organizing in Boston. Esteemed panelists will share personal narratives, historical insights, and forward-thinking strategies to combat racial disparities. The session will illuminate the importance of intergenerational collaboration in the pursuit of a more equitable society.
  • Michael Curry, Esq., President and CEO, Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, (Moderator)
  • Rufus Faulk, Principal, Roxbury USA
  • Carrie Mays, Organizer, Teen Empowerment
  • Julia Mejia, City Councilor, City of Boston
  • Nathaniel McLean-Nichols, Program Director, Teen Empowerment

Additional Speakers:

  • Marshall Ganz, Rita E. Hauser Senior Lecturer in Leadership, Organizing, and Civil Society, Harvard Kennedy School, John F. Kennedy
  • Professor Manuel Pastor, Distinguished Professor, Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity, Director, USC Dornsife Equity Research Institute
  • Shawn Ginwright, PhD, Professor of education, Africana Studies Department and a senior research associate, San Francisco State University
  • Pam Eddinger, President of Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC)
  • Dr. Anthony Burrow, Associate Dean, Director and Professor, Cornell University
  • Dr. Amanda R. Tachine, Associate Professor and Author, Arizona State University
  • Arnold Chandler, Advocate, Researcher, and Social Strategist, Forward Change
  • Chrissie Castro, Chairperson, Los Angeles City and County Native American Indian Commission

For any questions or to conduct interviews, please contact Members of the press will need to obtain a press pass on-site at registration.

The Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions was launched in 2012 in response to the social challenges affecting people in need. A cross-sector leadership group convened by the White House Council on Community Solutions examined this situation, and released several seminal reports that served to launch the Forum for Community Solutions at the Aspen Institute.

The Opportunity Youth Forum (OYF) is a network of over forty local collaborations in urban, rural, and tribal communities across the United States that seeks to build and scale reconnection pathways that achieve better outcomes in education, employment and overall well-being for opportunity youth. Opportunity youth are young adults, 16-24 years of age, who are engaged in neither work nor education.

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization whose purpose is to ignite human potential to build understanding and create new possibilities for a better world. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve society’s greatest challenges. It is headquartered in Washington, DC and has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, as well as an international network of partners. For more information, visit