New Casey Foundation Initiative Aims to Improve Job Prospects for Young Adults

Posted December 16, 2015
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog generationworkrelease 2015

A Total of Near­ly $6 Mil­lion to be Award­ed Over Four Years to Pro­grams That Strength­en the Next Gen­er­a­tion of Work­ers and Meet Employ­er Demand

The Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion announced today that it plans to award $6 mil­lion in grants over the next four years to increase job oppor­tu­ni­ties for America’s young adults in five cities, enabling them to begin build­ing careers and devel­op the skills employ­ers need.

Through its new Gen­er­a­tion Work ini­tia­tive, the Foun­da­tion will iden­ti­fy effec­tive ways to help young peo­ple from low-income fam­i­lies get and keep well-pay­ing jobs. Over the next year, Casey will award an ini­tial $100,000 plan­ning grant to part­ner­ships in Cleve­land, Hart­ford, Indi­anapo­lis, Philadel­phia and Seat­tle to pur­sue strate­gies to improve employ­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties for young adults ages 18 to 29.

Our future work­force is one of our nation’s great­est assets, and we can­not com­pete glob­al­ly unless it is strong,” said Alli­son Ger­ber, a senior asso­ciate who over­sees the Casey Foundation’s invest­ments in improv­ing job oppor­tu­ni­ties for low-income indi­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies. The next gen­er­a­tion is eager to work, but we must cre­ate more avenues for young adults to devel­op the knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence they need to suc­ceed in the job market.”

While the Great Reces­sion hit many hard, teens and young adults have expe­ri­enced the most dras­tic drop in employ­ment, data show. Mil­lions of young peo­ple — par­tic­u­lar­ly young peo­ple of col­or and from low-income fam­i­lies — face obsta­cles to employ­ment or edu­ca­tion, and the per­cent­age of young peo­ple ages 1829 in the job mar­ket has steadi­ly declined in recent years. At the same time, employ­ers often strug­gle to find work­ers with the right set of skills for avail­able positions.

Through Gen­er­a­tion Work, the Foun­da­tion aims to weave togeth­er two sets of strate­gies to bet­ter pre­pare youth for work: (1) Demand-dri­ven strate­gies, which involve build­ing rela­tion­ships with busi­ness­es and fac­tor­ing in the needs of the local econ­o­my, and (2) youth devel­op­ment strate­gies such as men­tor­ing and on-the-job learn­ing. Ulti­mate­ly, Casey hopes to help estab­lish local net­works of work­force devel­op­ment orga­ni­za­tions that serve young job seek­ers and have strong con­nec­tions with businesses.

The par­tic­i­pat­ing part­ner­ships are:

  • Cleve­land: Towards Employ­ment (lead orga­ni­za­tion) and part­ners Cuya­hoga Coun­ty; OhioMeansJobs|Cleveland-Cuyahoga Coun­ty; and the Fund for Our Eco­nom­ic Future. The part­ner­ship will lever­age a new pro­gram that con­nects employ­ers and work­ers by empha­siz­ing skills rather than edu­ca­tion­al attain­ment to cre­ate more job oppor­tu­ni­ties for young adults who com­mon­ly expe­ri­ence bar­ri­ers to employment.
  • Hart­ford: Unit­ed Way of Cen­tral and North­east­ern Con­necti­cut (lead orga­ni­za­tion) and part­ners Cap­i­tal Work­force Part­ners, Hart­ford Foun­da­tion for Pub­lic Giv­ing, Hart­ford Oppor­tu­ni­ty Youth Col­lab­o­ra­tive, Our Piece of the Pie and Work­force Solu­tions Col­lab­o­ra­tive of Metro Hart­ford. Togeth­er, they aim to link young adults with edu­ca­tion, train­ing and employ­ment by improv­ing coor­di­na­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion among indus­try-spe­cif­ic approach­es and youth ini­tia­tives — and to expand suc­cess­ful approach­es to addi­tion­al orga­ni­za­tions focused on youth, employ­ment and training.
  • Indi­anapo­lis: Good­will Indus­tries of Cen­tral Indi­ana (lead orga­ni­za­tion) and part­ners EmployIndy, the Indi­ana Depart­ment of Work­force Devel­op­ment, Conexus Indi­ana, the Office of Fam­i­ly and Social Ser­vices Admin­is­tra­tion and Ivy Tech Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lege. This part­ner­ship seeks to use lessons from Goodwill’s adult pub­lic char­ter school, The Excel Cen­ter, to bet­ter align state edu­ca­tion, fund­ing and work sup­port pro­grams — such as those for child care vouch­ers and trans­porta­tion — to improve young adults’ access to cer­ti­fi­ca­tions and on-the-job learn­ing expe­ri­ences, lead­ing to bet­ter employ­ment opportunities.
  • Philadel­phia: Job Oppor­tu­ni­ty Invest­ment Net­work (lead orga­ni­za­tion) and part­ners Dis­trict 1199C Train­ing & Upgrad­ing Fund, Youth Build Philadel­phia Char­ter School and Philadel­phia Youth Net­work. These orga­ni­za­tions will lever­age their col­lec­tive expe­ri­ence to bring togeth­er the best efforts of employ­ers, fun­ders, pol­i­cy­mak­ers and prac­ti­tion­ers to match train­ing and on-the-job learn­ing with the skills need­ed in the workplace.
  • Seat­tle: SkillUp Wash­ing­ton (lead orga­ni­za­tion) and part­ners Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­ter for Edu­ca­tion Results, South Seat­tle Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lege, Puget Sound Edu­ca­tion­al Ser­vice Dis­trict, Port Jobs, Work­force Devel­op­ment Coun­cil of Seat­tle-King Coun­ty, King Coun­ty Edu­ca­tion and Employ­ment Resources and Seat­tle Edu­ca­tion Access. Togeth­er, they seek to embed paths to employ­ment in state-fund­ed dropout recov­ery pro­grams, con­nect­ing young adults with oppor­tu­ni­ties in trades and logis­tics and with train­ing for jobs in the mar­itime, con­struc­tion and advanced man­u­fac­tur­ing industries.

These diverse part­ner­ships are in places with entry-lev­el job oppor­tu­ni­ties for young peo­ple and have demon­strat­ed a promis­ing approach to young adult employ­ment, with a par­tic­u­lar focus on those fac­ing some of the great­est obsta­cles to get­ting a job. They also have shown the abil­i­ty to effec­tive­ly imple­ment ser­vices for young job seek­ers and employ­ers; and the poten­tial to help fos­ter broad­er uptake of their approach­es in their respec­tive geo­graph­ic areas, among oth­er strengths.

They will use the Foundation’s ini­tial award to plan for the imple­men­ta­tion and eval­u­a­tion of their strate­gies to increase young adults’ access to job oppor­tu­ni­ties. Sub­se­quent fund­ing, which could extend to a total eight years, will sup­port imple­ment­ing and doc­u­ment­ing the impact of their efforts and pro­mot­ing the use of these strate­gies on a broad scale in the pub­lic, pri­vate and non­prof­it sector.

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