WASHINGTON, D.C., March 22, 2024 – The Opportunity Network (OppNet), a New York-based non-profit dedicated to supporting underrepresented students, is proud to celebrate its first of a multi-year partnership with The Verstandig Family Foundation (VFF), a philanthropic organization founded by entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and philanthropist Grant Verstandig.

In 2023, the partnership between VFF and OppNet began with a generous $1 million gift from VFF to bolster OppNet’s Career Fluency® Partnerships Program in Washington, D.C.. VFF and OppNet share a common purpose of investing in enhancing postsecondary and workforce readiness through immersive capacity-building efforts. “We are immensely grateful to partner with VFF, whose support has enabled The Opportunity Network to broaden the reach of our Career Fluency® Partnerships program in the D.C. region,” said OppNet President & CEO Lucria Ortiz, “This work is a testament to our shared commitment to empowering young people from underrepresented communities with the skills, knowledge, and networks necessary to achieve their career aspirations. Together, we are impacting over 3,000 students and creating pathways to opportunity and success for the next generation of leaders.”

OppNet’s philosophy focuses on broadening and deepening its partnerships with local institutions and schools to enhance their capabilities in promoting successful postsecondary transitions for youth. The program currently includes three youth-focused organizations in the DC area, including The Sitar Arts Center, The Latino Student Fund, and New Futures. “We are thrilled to join forces with OppNet in our shared mission to enhance postsecondary and workforce preparedness for underrepresented students. Our efforts to bolster OppNet’s Career Fluency® Partnerships Program in the D.C. region is just the beginning of our collaborative efforts to empower youth and create pathways to success,” Said Mr. Verstandig, “Together, we are investing in immersive capacity-building initiatives that will shape a brighter future for the next generation of leaders.”

OppNet is hosting their second annual community gathering in the Washington, D.C. region. The focus of this year’s event is ‘If You Build It: Preparing Talent & Employers for Impactful Internships and More Inclusive Workplaces’. The event on Tuesday, April 2 at the Festival Center provides a platform for educators, practitioners, and leaders to collaborate towards advancing social justice and educational equity nationwide.

Last June, OppNet held their inaugural event focused on youth mental health and wellness where attendees learned strategies for incorporating important conversations about mental health into their programming. The workshop, attended by 40 individuals from 19 local organizations, emphasized modeling self-care practices for youth, providing personalized support through one-on-one advising sessions, and advancing mental health awareness through community healing and advocacy efforts.

While open to all community members interested in fostering impact for young individuals, this event is particularly tailored for youth development professionals and educators capable of enhancing career growth and exposure opportunities for youth. Registration is currently available on Eventbrite.

About the Opportunity Network

Since The Opportunity Network (OppNet) was founded in 2003, they have remained committed to igniting the drive, curiosity, and agency of underrepresented students on their paths to and through college and into thriving careers. As a result, 96% of OppNet Fellows have graduated college — 93% of whom will be the first in their families to do so — and 89% have started meaningful careers or graduate study within six months of graduation, all far exceeding national trends. Through its founding NYC-based Fellows program as well as its national capacity-building partnerships with 100+ schools, youth-serving nonprofits, and employers across the country, OppNet has helped more than 150,000+ young people chart their self-determined path to and through college and to a best-fit career.

For more information on The Opportunity Network visit https://opportunitynetwork.org.

About the Verstandig Family Foundation

Established in 2017, the Verstandig Family Foundation leverages, funds, and scales initiatives that accelerate innovation, shape policy, and drive change at a local, national, and global level. VFF embraces disruption model thinking to accelerate public-private partnerships, build impactful programs with results, and drive change within organizations in 5 critical areas: healthcare, national security, education and entrepreneurship, veteran health, and animal welfare.

For more information, please visit verstandigfamilyfoundation.org and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.