Empowering low-income youth, powering
By John Gomperts, President & CEO, America's Promise Alliance and Brandee McHale, President of the Citi Foundation and Director of Corporate Citizenship, Citi August 26, 2015 09:00 AM
A Dallas-based nonprofit restaurant provides at-risk youth with intensive culinary, job and life-skills training for careers in the restaurant industry.
In St. Louis, an IT boot-camp transforms a group of young adults from novices into career-ready professionals.
A health care pathways program in Los Angeles offers readiness certification and paid positions at regional hospitals.
These are just snapshots of the innovations occurring at the local level that will be expanded through the recently launched Youth Opportunity Fund, a program led by the Citi Foundation and America’s Promise Alliance.
This $3 million fund is part of the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative and supports city-level, scalable programs that link young people to opportunities that lead to jobs.
Youth unemployment remains one of our nation’s most pervasive issues. More than 5.6 million young people are out of school and out of work. Low-income youth face even greater challenges. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem, so the Fund will support a diverse array of programs designed to showcase many effective ways to engage young people and provide them with the tools they need to place themselves on a path to success.
We are impressed by the hundreds of nonprofits that are responding to these challenges head-on by working directly with the communities and young people most in need. The 12 we selected for $250,000 grants have demonstrated that their work goes beyond serving young people. These community partners are helping us rethink how we meet youth unemployment’s challenges by collaborating with municipalities and other stakeholders to help drive local impact.
These awardees in 10 of the nation’s largest cities will focus on developing job readiness skills in diverse sectors that are crucial to the future competitiveness of cities, including technology, healthcare, the service industry and environmental sustainability.
By learning from these innovative solutions and spreading the word about best practices, the Youth Opportunity Fund can help reach more youth-serving organizations and more municipal leaders across the country, who, in turn, can help many more young people.
We are encouraged by grantees like Café Momentum, which works with the Dallas County Juvenile Justice Department to enroll 250 young people in a 13-week life and leadership skills course that will equip them with knowledge and experience for careers in the food industry.
And there’s UNITE-LA: In a joint effort with the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office and LA Unified School District, the organization is training hundreds of young adults for the healthcare field. Meanwhile, the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis is collaborating with the City Workforce Board and Housing Authority to certify 250 new young IT professionals.
Each Youth Opportunity Fund awardee is enhancing the employability of low-income youth and contributing to the economic competitiveness of their cities. All 12 awardees have demonstrated that they understand what their communities need and are presenting young people with opportunities to become the next leaders of their generation.
The organizations selected to receive grants from the Youth Opportunity Fund are at the forefront of smart ways to put economically vulnerable young adults on a path to economic success. Nothing could be more important, and we are pleased to support and learn from these organizations and the young people they will help.