We believe that everyone who works hard deserves the opportunity to succeed.
Unfortunately, too many of our neighbors face barriers to employment such as a lack of skills or confidence that they cannot overcome on their own. They need training and support to break the cycle of low-wage jobs and public assistance.
Opportunity Junction helps low-income Contra Costa residents get and keep good jobs by providing training, support, experience, and employer introductions.
When we work together, motivated job seekers get what they need to launch a career. Their success makes their families and our community stronger.
Impact is an Opportunity Junction core value. We are committed to seeking ever better data to assess our impact, evaluate the effectiveness of program changes, surface differential results based on demographics that may raise equity concerns, and identify areas for inquiry.
Internal Impact Evaluation: We track all enrollment, participation, and outcomes data in a highly-customized Salesforce database. Separate employment records track hire and exit dates, compensation, hours, benefits, employer, whether a position is temporary or not, and job title. We track the date, for each alum, when that data was last verified. We seek verification every three months for at least 18 months post-placement, with automated reports so staff know whom to contact.
External Impact Evaluation: We also value external evaluation of our impact and are a pioneer in using anonymized batch wage data from the California Employment Development Department in assessing long-term impact.
External discussion or validation of our impact may be found here:
- We are proud to be listed as a Top 10 Poverty-Fighting Organization nationally in the ImpactMatters ratings that are based on impact (quantified as Return on Investment), with a full 5-star organization profile here.
- Our Healthcare Career Pathway partnership is the subject of the John Muir Health Community Health Fund 2019 Impact Update.
- Our Administrative Careers Training Program is highlighted in the MDRC-authored, James Irvine Foundation funded report, Beyond the Basics: Integrating Workforce and College-Readiness Training Into California's Adult Basic Skills Programs.
We are also pleased to be a 2020 Top-Rated Nonprofit on GreatNonprofits.org and to have earned a 2020 Platinum Seal of Transparency from Guidestar.org.
Core Programs Specifically for Job Seekers:
- Administrative Careers Training Program: Prepares job seekers for administrative careers by combining computer training with life skills, paid work experience, case management, mental health services, career counseling, placement assistance, and long-term alumni services. This training, which costs Opportunity Junction $4,500 per student, is offered to students for free thanks to our funders and donors.
- Healthcare Career Pathway: Starts with person-centered Certified Nursing Assistant training, including professional development instruction, wrap-around support services, placement assistance, and long-term alumni services. Key partners include Mt. Diablo Adult Education and Emplowered Aging. This program costs Opportunity Junction $3,000 per student, but we offer it to students for free as an investment in their future careers.
- Career Counseling and Placement Assistance: Provides career development, case management, and job placement services in Antioch, at Los Medanos College, and at SparkPoint Contra Costa in Bay Point.
- Road Map for 18- to 24-Year Olds: Helps low-income, vulnerable young adults, ages 18 to 24, obtain employment through access to short-term training opportunities and/or placement into jobs. Counselors can help with college enrollment as well as career counseling and placement.
Additional Programs to Serve Low-Income Residents:
Founded in 1999 Opportunities for Technology Information Careers (OPTIC) was the brainchild of Meryl Natchez, then CEO of TechProse, who was also chair of the Technology Task Force of the Contra Costa Council (now the East Bay Leadership Council). Natchez saw a need for workers with strong technology and workplace skills. At the same time, Welfare Reform mandated that aid recipients move from welfare to full-time employment. Natchez felt the technology sector held the promise of true economic self-sufficiency for these individuals. The founding Board, a collaboration of the private sector, government, and educators, developed a Job Training and Placement Program based on best practices in workforce development, with a focus on computer skills. In February 2000, OPTIC incorporated and began its work, continued and expanded today as Opportunity Junction.
Driven by the fundamental belief that everyone who works hard deserves the opportunity to succeed, our mission is "to help motivated Contra Costa job seekers develop the skills and confidence to launch careers that lead to financial security."
Our entire community has a stake in equitable opportunities to enable the success of job seekers. When our participants launch careers, they are better able to meet their own needs and the needs of their families. As our alumni grow in their careers, they have the resources to make the community stronger through their civic participation and volunteerism. Likewise, our entire community has a role to play in the success of our job seekers. We collaborate with local agencies, volunteers and employers to develop more comprehensive and effective programs. Local residents, foundations, corporations, and government agencies provide the funding that allows us to offer our programs. Together we make the community stronger.
We empower our job seekers to succeed in the employment market and in their careers. We recognize that each job seeker has unique aspirations that we respect and support. This means building on their strengths and providing them with the experience and feedback that helps them build personal and professional confidence. We value the voice and autonomy of the people we serve.
We exist for the purpose of having a long‐term impact on the careers of our job seekers so that they achieve self‐sustaining employment. The outcomes of our work are quantifiable and measurable. We are committed to gather data to assess our impact, evaluate the effectiveness of program changes, explore equity considerations, and adapt to opportunities. In addition, our job seekers achieve intangible benefits such as increased confidence and professional networks. We value creativity and diversity, including the voices of our alumni, to help us achieve and improve our impact.
This work succeeds only if we are unflinchingly honest with ourselves and with our diverse community. Program outcomes and financial results, whatever they are, guide our program development, allocation of resources and must be incorporated into our long-term planning. Setbacks and challenges are opportunities for iteration of improvement and must be viewed through an unbiased lens. Our commitment is always to the mission and the interested, motivated community we serve, not to the organization itself. We rally around Opportunity Junction and work for its growth because of its effectiveness in serving our mission.