On the Path towards Economic Success: The Impact of Citi Foundation's Pathways to Progress through the eyes of Stella
By Rosemary Byrnes, Senior Program Officer, U.S. Youth Economic Opportunities, Citi Foundation October 29, 2014 10:45 AM
In March 2014, the Citi Foundation launched Pathways to Progress, a three-year, $50 million national commitment seeking to catalyze the economic progress of 100,000 low-income urban youth, ages 16-24, across ten of the largest U.S. cities: Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Newark, St. Louis, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
The single largest commitment by the Foundation to date, Pathways to Progress is designed to provide youth with the skills and opportunities needed to succeed in the 21st century economy within four key paths: Entrepreneurship, Civic Leadership & Service, Mentorship and Summer Jobs. The initiative contributes to Citi's broader mission of enabling progress in the cities where we do business and complements the work of our Citi for Cities initiative. Pathways to Progress is reaching more than 22,000 young people in its first year alone. In addition, over the past six months, more than 160 Citi employees have devoted their time and talent in support of the initiative.
But there's no better way to explore the early success of Pathways than through the eyes of the participants. Below we share the fourth story from Stella.
Stella Gutierrez - San Francisco
Stella Gutierrez is a high school sophomore and one of the 1,800 young people employed this summer through Summer Jobs Connect, a Pathways to Progress program implemented in Chicago, LA, Miami, NYC, and San Francisco in partnership with the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund, an organization that leverages municipal engagement to improve the financial stability of low and moderate income households by embedding financial empowerment strategies into local government infrastructure. Young people in Summer Jobs Connect were placed in their first job and were provided with access to the financial education tools to put them on the path toward adopting lifetime positive financial behaviors. This is Stella's story.
When asked to use one word to describe the feeling of receiving her first paycheck, without hesitation, Stella proclaimed "confident!" Stella's summer job began in June with the Bayview-Hunters Point Center for Arts and Technology (BAYCAT), a nonprofit whose mission is to educate, empower and employ youth and adults focused on digital media. Stella worked 20 hours a week and was responsible for supporting music video productions, leading a team as a director, facilitating the organization's youth program outreach and assisting with general office management. She says that this experience has taught her a lot, especially when it comes to separating work and friends. "It's difficult being a peer leader because I have personal relationships with a lot of the participants. My supervisor has really helped me to build boundaries and be able to distinguish between when socializing is and is not appropriate."
Back in June when Stella received her very first paycheck, she directly deposited it into a savings account. When asked about her spending habits, she declared that she has not spent a dime of it. Why not? She says the financial workshops (which were part of the curriculum), which showed her how far savings can go, encouraged her to save. Earning money makes her feel more responsible. "It's important for me to support myself and be independent one day. I want to start now." While Stella is only a sophomore in high school, she's already paving a path to greater opportunity. By spending her summers building her personal and professional skillset and saving money, she's building a foundation on which to create a bright and successful future.