Millions of America's young people are struggling to find jobs — and to get the education and training that are necessary to keep them. Youth and young adults ages 16–24 have seen the most drastic drop in employment since the Great Recession, and the percentage of young people ages 18–29 in the job market has steadily declined in recent years. These bleak statistics have long-term implications for each of these young people, their families and our national economy.
This month, the Foundation is launching two new initiatives focused on ensuring youth and young adults have access to educational and employment opportunities that will enable them to become successful adults. These initiatives — one centered on youth involved in public systems; the other, on equipping young people to align with the needs of employers and regional economies — join a range of national and local partnerships seeking to build brighter futures for young people.
A Focus on Youth in Systems: Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential
The Foundation is now inviting letters of intent for a new five-year initiative called Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential (LEAP)™.
Funded in part by a $7.5 million grant from the Social Innovation Fund, LEAP adapts two models to help young people ages 14–25 — particularly those who have been involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems — connect with postsecondary education and jobs. The Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) model helps youth build professional skills, gain full-time employment, enter postsecondary education and earn a credential. Jobs for the Future’s Back on Track model provides academic enrichment and other support programs to help young people complete high school and build paths to careers by earning a postsecondary degree or credential.
Together with national partners JAG, Jobs for the Future and MDRC, the Foundation hopes to build evidence on what works so that more organizations can take up these models on a broad scale, enabling even more young people to succeed in school and work.
Find out more about LEAP and how to apply
Jobs for Young Adults — With an Emphasis on Employers' Needs
Next week, the Foundation will invite a small group of local partnerships to submit proposals for a new initiative that seeks to improve job opportunities for young adults ages 18–29. This effort will promote approaches that combine what are known as demand-side strategies — which focus on the needs of employers, the available jobs in the regional labor market and the skills they require — with youth development support services and strategies, such as mentoring and learning in real work environments.
Over the next eight years, Casey will seek to scale these strategies in the four sites chosen to participate in the initiative by helping workforce systems and practitioners build stronger connections with employers and serve as networks for young people seeking employment. Stay tuned for more news about the initiative later this fall, when the Foundation announces the chosen sites.