Nonprofit Profile: Newark Opportunity Youth Network, helping young people find success in their community

In brief

Location: Newark
Serving: Opportunity youth — young people ages 16-24 who are not in school and not working
Key members of leadership: Founder and CEO Robert Clark; Chief Program Officer Jasmine Joseph-Forman; chief of staff Daniel Croson; Managing Director of Curriculum and Instruction Shabani Stewart; Executive Director of My Brother’s Keeper Newark Mark Comesanas.


Newark Opportunity Youth Network was launched in 2016 after over a decade of working as YouthBuild Newark, an affiliate of YouthBuild USA, to provide young people an opportunity to earn a GED while gaining on-the-job training through community building projects. 

Robert Clark, founder and CEO, made history as the first YouthBuild graduate to found a YouthBuild program in a major city, and his visionary leadership led to years of successful community building throughout New Jersey and collaborations with local and national community-based organizations. Through this work, Clark and other Newark leaders recognized how coordinated efforts across the city had the potential to achieve more for opportunity youth than any one organization alone. In 2014, Rutgers University hosted an inaugural forum for the city’s leaders to examine data on all the challenges that these young people face — and the implications for the city’s economy. This helped create the necessary conditions to formalize nascent partnerships emerging from YouthBuild Newark’s work. 

In 2016, NOYN was established and began to develop a body of evidence-based initiatives designed to reengage opportunity youth while drastically changing systems that inhibit their success.


Newark Opportunity Youth Network’s mission is threefold:

  1. Establishing exceptional, world-class public schools and education programs for opportunity youth that harness the intelligence and positive energy for low-income young people;
  2. Prove that young people are capable of achieving positive post-secondary outcomes, despite overwhelming odds; and
  3. Advocating for the change of public policies that inhibit success.
NOYN is charting a new path to success through its work that directly serves opportunity youth.

With the recognition of young people being one of the greatest resources available for the sustainment of our community, our vision is to be a professional learning community that cultivates and rewards innovation and fosters collaboration within and across our network components.


Our short- and long-term goals are to expand the quality and quantity of seats available to opportunity youth, both through direct services and through strengthening the larger youth workforce development ecosystem, while simultaneously advocating for policy changes that have historically inhibited young people’s success.


NOYN is New Jersey’s leading advocate of opportunity youth, with a body of replicable initiatives that are designed to address youth disconnection. These initiatives, organized around four key elements of Education, Workforce Development, Policy Advocacy and Systems Building, work in tandem to accomplish NOYN’s mission to reengage opportunity youth while drastically changing systems that inhibit their success.


NOYN raises money through donations. Go to to donate.


We collaborate with a number of other nonprofit organizations that work toward workforce development through the collaborative. Some of those organizations are La Casa de Don Pedro, the HUBB Arts & Trauma Center, United Community Corp., Leaders for Life and the Urban League of Essesx County.


To learn more about our initiatives and stay updated on our work, follow us on Instagram @oyn_newark, Facebook at Newark Opportunity Youth Network and Twitter @OYN_Newark.

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For more information about NOYN, please visit or call 973-297-0592.