Thu, 10 August, 2023

Annual Symposium to Focus on Opportunity Youth

Annual Symposium to Focus on Opportunity Youth

Event scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday, September 7

The Rapides Foundation’s 10th annual Symposium will be at 3 p.m. Thursday, September 7, at the Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center in downtown Alexandria. The public event will focus on the high number of young adults ages 16 to 24 who are neither in school nor working.

The Symposium presentation, “The Promise of Opportunity Youth,” will feature a panel of national experts who will discuss the challenges unique to this group, identify best practices and share what is working in other places.

“Research has shown that young adults who are disconnected from work and education will have significantly lower incomes, are less likely to gain meaningful employment in the future and have poorer health outcomes than their peers. They are missing out on opportunities to build skills and to build future income. It’s also a challenge for our employers because a large percentage of our population is not engaged in the workforce,” said Joe Rosier, President and CEO of The Rapides Foundation. “However, disconnected youth are often called opportunity youth because of their potential to succeed and contribute to their communities. With our Symposium, we hope to engage the community around this important issue.”

In addition to the panel discussion, the event will recognize Central Louisiana organizations that are currently working to address opportunity youth through projects funded by The Rapides Foundation. The Foundation’s Beyond Graduation project is designed to keep students in the education pipeline while Reconnecting Cenla has the goal of reengaging young people to education or workforce opportunities.

The event is free of charge, but registration is required. Participants can choose to attend in person or online through Zoom webinar. To register, visit

The Rapides Foundation is a health foundation that serves a nine-parish region in Central Louisiana. The Foundation hosts its annual Symposium to bring attention to a topic of importance and to recognize its September 1, 1994, creation.

The mission of The Rapides Foundation is to improve the health status of Central Louisiana, and over its 29-year history the Foundation has sought to support that mission by developing initiatives and strategies intended to impact the region for decades to come.

The Foundation focuses its work in three strategic areas: Healthy People, to improve access to healthcare and to promote healthy behaviors; Education, to increase the level of educational attainment and achievement as the primary path to improved economic, social and health status; and Healthy Communities, to improve economic opportunity and family income, and enhance civic and community opportunities for more effective leaders and organizations.

Since the Foundation’s creation in 1994, it has disbursed $253.7 million in grants. The Rapides Foundation serves Allen, Avoyelles, Catahoula, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Vernon and Winn parishes.


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