Workforce Readiness

America's Promise YES Project Tackles Youth Unemployment

YES Project

America's Promise has just launched a program called the YES Project, a national endeavor to bring young people, employers and others together to support creation of a robust youth workforce. The goal of the YES Project is to achieve full employment for people ages 16 to 24 by the year 2030.

The nonprofit behind the initiative focuses on helping children and youth attain the conditions they need "to achieve adult success": caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, effective education and opportunities to help others.

The first phase is to intended to generate awareness through social media. YES Project has developed an online social toolkit with posts, videos, hashtags and graphics, as well as information about timing and how to post. The specific goal: "to #PledgeYES!"

Signatories to the YES pledge promise to do their part "to ensure young people are ready to enter the workforce with confidence; connected to the networks, relationships and resources needed to access new opportunities; and supported with the training, coaching and skills needed to excel." They can do that, the organization stated, by connecting young people with job opportunities and contacts, giving advice on job searches and interviewing and providing support to them after they're employed.

America's Promise has also set up four "opportunity youth forum communities" to serve as action roundtables that will develop "lessons learned" for sharing with other communities around the country. Those include:

  • Ancestral Lands Hopi Program, which is working with youth 14 to 26 who aren't in school or employed to participate in conservation projects on native lands;
  • Austin's Opportunity Youth Collaborative, a consortium of community groups working with four priority populations: young people who are parenting, those in foster care, those involved in the court and young men of color;
  • Capital Workforce Partners in Connecticut, which is working on helping young people overcome their barriers to employment and closing the gap between skills and business hiring needs; and
  • Thrive Chicago, which created an Opportunity Youth Data and Research Project that links research and practice for addressing the issues of "disconnected youth."

YES Project work is being supported by State Farm and Citi Foundation, and its steering committee includes representatives from numerous corporate foundations and nonprofits.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.