Pathways to Careers Fund Project Summaries

Chicago/Cook County

  1. The Opportunity Youth Robotics Technician Training Program is a partnership between Safer Foundation and BSD Industries (a L3C social enterprise), designed to prepare and train justice-involved youth between the ages of 18-24 for advanced manufacturing jobs. Safer will provide assessments, job readiness training, case management support, job placement and retention support services; BSD will provide a boot camp (BOOST – contextualized bridging to ensure participants are prepared for training), and four levels of training in industry-recognized credentials, including Drafting (CAD), Electronics Technician (NOCTI), Certified Production Technician (MSSC), and Certified Robotics Production Technician (FANUC Programming). Exit ramps will allow students to earn a credential at each level and exit for work or other opportunities. During training, students will be offered on-the-job training in a plastics manufacturing plant. Upon completion, students will have the opportunity to be employed permanently in openings at BSD’s manufacturing plant or with other plastics manufacturers that Safer works with. Through the Opportunity Youth Robotics Technician Training Program, Safer will impact credential attainment, employment outcomes, earnings, and job retention, and ultimately, reduce justice involvement.
  2. Skills for Chicagoland’s Future (“Skills”) will meet the hiring needs of committed employer partners by placing young adults into entry-level jobs with four Beacon Employer Partners – Walgreens, CDW, Freedman Seating Company, and Rush –that are committed to advancing youth along defined pathways into middle-income careers through the “Pivot to Success” program model. Skills will utilize its deep employer relationships and will leverage this expertise to effectively create new employment pathways for young adults. Skills will assess both the business requirements per occupation and the needs of the youth candidates to determine the level and extent of supports needed. Skills will partner with proven youth providers in Chicago to prepare young adults for jobs and provide the necessary supports after placement, as well as coordinate investment from the employers – including program design, tuition reimbursement, designated mentors, and cohort experience facilitation – in ensuring success and upward mobility of youth hires. Finally, Skills will utilize its extensive and existing set of business relationships to engage appropriate additional companies in the program.
  3. Youth Guidance and Sprint have partnered to increase access to employment opportunities for up to 60 opportunity youth. Participants will receive targeted support to overcome obstacles to employment, explore career opportunities, and develop job skills. Upon completion of training, youth will receive job placement assistance and retention support. For participants interested in retail careers, Sprint will provide targeted skill training and orientation to opportunities at the company. Qualified applicants will have an opportunity to interview. This progressive career pathway will increase youth’s employability skills and provide access to mid-skill career opportunities that provide strong opportunities for advancement. As an employer, Sprint will benefit from an increased pool of qualified candidates and improved employee retention.
  4. Youth Job Center’s (YJC) Retail/Customer Service Career Pathways is an intensive program building upon the foundations of Gap Inc.’s This Way Ahead program. YJC offers intensive skills development and sustained support for Opportunity Youth (OY) before, during and after job placement. Rather than structuring programs on a linear path, YJC has constructed a support process that includes revisiting issues and building on youth’s successful development of skills or knowledge in their work and career development; it is this sustained support to address challenges that sets the program apart from other career pathways programs. Employer partnership is critical to the success of the Retail/Customer Service Career Pathway; YJC will work closely with employers, including Gap Inc., Starbucks Coffee Company, and Supreme Auto Repair, to design, develop and implement the training content and delivery, to engage youth, build essential skills and reach successful outcomes for both participants and employers. YJC’s sustained support in Career Pathways programs reduces the fall off risks across the many transitions from job seeking to job stability.

Los Angeles

5. Over  the  last  three  years,  The  Bixel  Exchange’s  LA Tech  Talent  Pipeline,  a  partnership  with  the  Office  of  Mayor  Eric  Garcetti,  facilitated over  100  employer-driven and  co-designed work-based learning (WBL) experiences, such  as  company  tours,  job  shadows,  and  interactive  learning  projects,  to  help  participants  build  their  portfolios  and  get  “real-world”  experience  in  tech. As  part  of  an  effort  to  better  serve  opportunity youth  through our  program,  The  Bixel  Exchange  is  launching  the  Tech  Opportunity  Pipeline,  which  will  expand  upon  this  past  year’s  successful  pilot  that  connected  foster,  home-insecure  and  justice-involved  youth  to  tech  career  pathways  through  our  existing  LA  Tech  Talent  Pipeline  Program.  Over  the  course  of  the  next  two  years,  Bixel Exchange will  reach  90  foster  and/or  justice-involved  youth  with our  Tech  Opportunity  Pipeline  through a  combination  of  customized  WBL  activities,  professional  development opportunities, paid internships  and  job  placements with employers such as mitu Network, Riot Games, Launchmaps, and Michelson 20MM.  Furthermore,  we  will engage  with  at  least  10  employer  partners  and  10  foster/  justice-involved  youth  serving  organization  to  produce  systems-change  level  outcomes  throughout  the  tech  industry  in  LA. Our  multi-stakeholder  “systems-change”  LA  Tech  Talent  Pipeline initiative is  an  innovative  approach  to  knowledge  transfer  and  social  capital  infusion  into  LA  County  underrepresented  and  disenfranchised  youth that provides them with  access to  be  on-track  to  a  successful  well-paying  career  in  the  growing  tech  industry.  By  cultivating  relationships  with over  60  employer  partners,  Bixel  Exchange  reduces  biases  and  barriers  in  the  tech  industry  around  hiring  at-risk  and  underrepresented  youth,  while  also  helping  companies become  champions  for  tech  career  pathways.
6. LeadersUp will create  an  “opportunity  market”  to  benefit  Opportunity  Youth  in  Los  Angeles  County  in  partnership  with  the  American  Hotel  &  Lodging  Association  (AHLA.)      We  will  leverage  the  LeadersUp  Talent  Solutions  Model  — a  theory  of  change  for  creating  large  scale  shifts  in  practice  that  creates  bottom-line  benefits  to  employers,  opportunity youth  and  the  local  community:

– To  engage  cross-sector  stakeholders  to  INNOVATE  talent  solutions  that  are  employer-led,  demand-driven  and  career-pathway  centered;
– To  track  and  collect  INSIGHTS  that  build  evidence  for  shifting  business  practice  to  create  a  new  pipeline  of  talent  targeting  the  OY  population;
– To  amplify  results  and  INFLUENCE  policies  with  key  stakeholders  and  decision  makers  at  the  local  and  regional  level;  and
– To  create  sustained  IMPACT  through  a  data-driven  implementation  science  that  fuels  systems  change  for  the  hotel  and  lodging  industry.

This  Project  will  focus  on  achieving  and  measuring  progress  against  these  goals:

– To  understand  the  talent  gap/needs  assessment  for  the  hotel  and  lodging  industry  and  design  a  career  pathway  initiative  to  be  piloted  and  tested  with  AHLA  member  companies.
– To  launch  2-3  career  pathway  pilots  with  AHLA  members,  recruit  and  train  100 opportunity youth  and  connect  25-50 to  career  pathways.
– To  provide  onboarding  and  post-employment  support  to  employers  and  OY  to  increase  the  likelihood  of  retention  and  pathway  advancement  outcomes.
– To  track  outcomes  and  compile  key  learnings  to  share  with  learning  community.

7. Operation Emancipation is The RightWayFoundation’s revolutionary, flagship employment and life-readiness program for transition age foster youth that integrates and simultaneously provides employment and mental health services. Overall, activities of the program include: Workforce  Development (job readiness  training  workshops,  one-on-one  job  coaching,  paid  internship  placement,  job  placement);  Mental  Health  Services  (peer  support  group  sessions,  mental  wellness  groups,  one-on-one  therapy,  empowerment  workshops);  Financial  Literacy  (basic  personal  finance  workshops,  credit  check  assistance,  savings  account  assistance);  Case  Management  (ongoing  case  management  year-round,  24-hour  crisis  response);  Supportive  Services  (flex  funding  to  support  an  array  of  youth  needs,  including  haircuts  and  makeovers,  interview  and  workplace  attire,  hotel  vouchers  and  rental  assistance,  transportation  assistance,  food  assistance);  and  Alumni  Events  (holiday  celebrations,  social  events  and  outings,  concerts). Completion  of  32-hour  Operation Emancipation  program  provides  youth  the  skills to  be  placed  in  paid  internships,  customer  service/retail  positions,  and the  ongoing  support  and  services to  retain  the  job and  pursue  long-term  career/educational  goals. The RightWay Foundation partners with many employers that hire youth who have completed the Operation Emancipation program, including AEG L.A.  Live,  Crews  1972,  Jersey  Mike’s  Subs,  HMS  Host,  TJ  Maxx,  Aramark,  and Legends.

New Orleans

8. The goal of  the Greater New Orleans Foundation’s Workforce  Innovations  program  is  to  accelerate  and  expand  career  pathways  within  the  healthcare  and  hospitality  sectors  in  New  Orleans. It  is  based  on  and  supported  by  the  successful  national  model,  WorkLab  Innovations.  GNOF’s  Workforce  Innovations  program  will  provide  post-hire  supports  to  100  opportunity youth  that  work  at  Ochsner  Hospital  System and the Windsor Court Hotel. Like  the  national  model,  resource  and  referral  specialists  –  called  Navigators  –  will  be  available  at  job  sites  to  help  opportunity youth  with  issues  such as childcare, transportation, and housing that  inhibit their  ability  to  progress in  their  careers. To  better  support  opportunity youth ,  especially  the  subpopulations  of  ͞parenting  youth͟ and  ͞boys  and  men  of  color, the  Navigator  will  implement  a  holistic  case-management  approach to  provide  solutions  to  barriers  tailored  to  opportunity youth .  Employers  will  also  benefit  from  this  program  as  it  will  minimize  work  disruptions,  decrease  absenteeism,  and  ultimately  increase  employee  retention  and  engagement.  This  personalized,  immediate,  and  human-to-human  assistance  when  and  where  people  need  it  most  –  at  work-  meets  the goals  identified  by  the  Forum.  Through  six  years  of  successfully  implementing  the  New  Orleans  Works  program  and  nearly  35  years  funding  and  developing  best  practices  with  our  region’s  top  performing  nonprofits,  GNOF  is  well  positioned  to  expand  the  pathway  to  careers  for  New  Orleans’  youth.
9. While serving 200 youth over two years in employability training and job placement, Liberty’s Kitchen will pilot a new Career Track program with three model partner employers to assist 15 motivated Liberty’s Kitchen graduates to get hired, retain employment for a year or more, and take meaningful steps toward promotion and wage growth. This pilot will result in a documented model pathway from youth unemployment to one-year job retention and a projected path from one-year retention to a management position within partner companies. The model is being co-designed by Liberty’s Kitchen with three model employers: Ace Hotel New Orleans, The Ruby Slipper Café, and City Greens. The model will intentionally integrate one-on-one coaching, career advancement planning, employer mentorship, and collaboration on upskilling and remediation to scaffold longer job retention and accelerated career advancement. Throughout the project Liberty’s Kitchen will coordinate structured convenings, summits, and check-ins with employer partners and Career Track participants to maintain positive momentum and continually strengthen the pilot intervention.
10. Urban League of Louisiana in partnership with employer partners including the Intercontinental Hotel, is engaging former opportunity youth in development of a unique workforce initiative that provides specialized education and skills training to prepare opportunity youth to compete for jobs in the hospitality sector.  The program features workshops which arm opportunity youth with important skills and knowledge requisite for career advancement, while also providing employer partners with a clearer understanding of how to better support this population in navigating and overcoming barriers to workplace success.
11. The Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) and the Link Restaurant Group (LRG) will pilot an innovative career pathway partnership that will provide opportunity youth ages 18-24 with soft skills, training, and work experience in multiple aspects of the hospitality industry including direct customer service, event planning, sales and administration. Participants referred from YEP will receive extensive training and wraparound social supports before and during their six-week externships with LRG, in which they will earn stipends and gain experience working alongside the staff of some of New Orleans’ most popular local restaurants.

Phoenix/Maricopa County

12. Arizona Center for Youth Resources’ Pathways  to  Success proposal,  grounded  in  successful  processes, operating  structure  and  ability  to  build on our publicly  funded  programs,  includes  effective  and  innovative  program  design  to  help  youth  access  employment,  education,  and  training  to  succeed  in  the  labor  market  and  to  match  employers  with  the  skilled  workers  they  need  to  compete  in  the  global  economy.  The 24-month  program  is  designed  to  create  a skilled,  well-educated,  demand-driven  workforce  by  assisting  480  economically  disadvantaged  youth  to  gain  the  knowledge  and  skills  required  to  enter  higher-wage  career  pathways.  Comprehensive  services  are  provided  through  an  integrated  delivery  system  that  takes  advantage  of  the  strengths,  perspective,  and  expertise  of  multiple  organizations  and  leverages  resources  to  minimize  ancillary  costs  associated  with  comprehensive  youth  development  programming. The  Career  Paths  service  design  places  emphasis  on  soft  skill  building  through  Career  Skills  Training,  Customer  Service  Excellence  Training,  and  Financial  Literacy  which  are  critical  components  needed  for  employment  retention  and  complement  the four innovative,  collaborative  middle-skill  career  paths supported through the Pathways Fund project:  Barista,  Security  Guard  Card,  A+  Training  and  Customer  Service.  Strong  collaboration  with  our  employer  partners  whom  are  willing  to  partner  and  hire –Starbucks, Securitas, Drafting Cloud, and Convergent – ensures participants transition into employment and self-sufficiency.
13. Chicanos Por La Causa Workforce Solutions will serve 300 opportunity youth over the course of two years with a focus of on youth who live in the Maryvale neighborhood of Phoenix. Career pathways in the Healthcare, Retail, and Financial sectors will include GED, remedial education, and college courses in partnership with Rio Salado College. The majority of opportunity youth we serve require remedial education before they can start a traditional career pathway that includes community college courses. The current remedial education system is failing opportunity youth in Maryvale; only 4% of students who begin remedial education ever graduate with an associate’s degree. Chicanos Por La Causa proposes to work with Rio Salado College to change the status quo and bring a streamlined, needs-based, “boot-camp” style remedial education program to Maryvale to more quickly qualify students for college courses. Not only has this model proven more effective, but it also better utilizes the community’s limited resources. This new model more than doubles the number of successful students at a fraction of the price. By providing the boot camp in locations across Maryvale, we will remove a critical barrier for opportunity youth in Maryvale and increase the number of opportunity youth that matriculate into college courses. Participants will then select from a range of career pathway options and receive the training, support, and services needed to start a quality career with opportunity for career growth.

Seattle/King County

14. The Accelerator YMCA of Greater Seattle, in partnership with Chipotle Mexican Grill, will support pathways for opportunity youth (OY) ages 16-25 to become work-ready and successfully transition to employment as well as help those who are already working to persist and advance within their career. The project aims to bridge the gap between employment and stability among opportunity youth and young adults by building tangible life assets such as stable housing and employment, access to higher education, soft skills, and social/emotional development for upward mobility. The Accelerator YMCA’s strategy is to strengthen existing programs and support local employers who are at the forefront of this effort. The Accelerator YMCA will provide case management support to 30 existing Chipotle employees to maintain employment as well as access educational trainings and work towards advancement. In addition, Chipotle Mexican Grill will interview and/or hire 80 new opportunity youth candidates who have the support of a YMCA case manager.
15. Year Up Puget Sound, Bellevue College, and T-Mobile, will serve a cohort of young adults during summer 2017 through an innovative partnership that opens a wide range of doors for opportunity youth, and would serve as a model for a similar program locally in 2018, and be replicable for other markets and other retail employers. As a result of this partnership, young adults will have intensive professional skills training, six weeks of paid technology retail experience, and the opportunity to earn education-friendly employment with T-Mobile, coursework towards a degree at Bellevue College, and/or participation in Year Up’s traditional one-year program. Interns will gain the skill set required to attain employment with other retail employers, as well. As with Year Up’s traditional one-year program, this partnership will help T-Mobile recruit, train, employ, and retain a diverse workforce interested in continued growth through education and professional development. Interns will serve as a proof point for hiring managers that opportunity youth, presented with a pathway and training, will succeed in technology-related retail roles.