Article courtesy of America’s Promise Alliance
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The YES Project—Young, Employed, Successful—a national youth employment initiative led by America’s Promise Alliance, announced today the selection of six community-level grantees to host Virtual Action Roundtable conversations in partnership with employers and young workers. Based on the roundtable conversations and ongoing collaboration, employers and young people will co-design meaningful strategies to improve belonging and inclusion in the workplace for employees of color. All employer partners have committed to implementing at least one co-designed strategy by the end of the year.
Each of the following organizations will receive a $20,000 investment: Central Georgia Technical College Foundation in Macon, Ga.; Greater Stark County Urban League in Canton, Ohio; Kalamazoo Youth Development Network in Kalamazoo, Mich.; Rural Schools Innovation Zone in Premont, Texas; The Pittsburgh Promise in Pittsburgh, Pa., and Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative in North Charleston, S.C.
The Virtual Action Roundtable grants reflect a key finding identified in the YES Project’s youth-centered research: that young people view their work and their lives as deeply intertwined. This means that success in the workplace requires a multi-dimensional, whole-person approach that acknowledges and values all aspects of one’s identity. These Action Roundtable Conversations intentionally center the perspectives of young people of color, who are often excluded from employers’ decision-making.
“Our research has reinforced the notion that young employees—and all employees—do best when they can bring all of who they are to work,” said Mike O’Brien, CEO of America’s Promise Alliance. “These Action Roundtables are an opportunity to put that idea into practice by centering the perspectives of young employees of color to drive the change needed to create workplace environments that allow for equity, inclusion, and belonging.”
Dates for the Virtual Action Roundtable conversations will be announced later this month. The grantees who will co-facilitate the Virtual Action Roundtable conversations and subsequent co-design of strategies include:
Central Georgia Technical College Foundation (CGTCF)—Macon, Ga.: Central Georgia Technical College is a two-year public college and a Predominantly Black Institution in central Georgia. Through this grant, the CGTCF—a nonprofit organization that supports the college’s mission and students—will engage young people participating in the CGTC REACH program, which is a student organization established to promote the success of underserved populations, primarily young men of color, in postsecondary education and the workplace. The CGTCF will work with small to mid-size employer partners in high-growth industries in the region that have expressed an interest in and commitment to diversity and inclusion. These employers—the City of Milledgeville, Spherion Staffing and Recruiting, and Georgia Artisan Furnishings—have also committed to supporting REACH student representatives in job shadowing and other immersive workplace learning activities.
Greater Stark County Urban League (GSCUL)—Canton, Ohio: GSCUL works to help African Americans and others in underserved communities achieve social parity, economic self-reliance, power, and civil rights. GSCUL will engage a diverse and committed group of employer partners—Aultman Health Foundation, Akron-Canton Airport, and Kenan Advantage Group—who aim to be role models for peer employers who want to improve their work environments. Once the Action Roundtable project is complete, GSCUL plans to leverage existing infrastructure provided through the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce to share the lessons learned from these roundtables and investigate how the recommendations might be able to influence employers throughout the region.
Kalamazoo Youth Development Network (KYD)—Kalamazoo, Mich.: KYD is the intermediary organization for the out-of-school time sector in southwest Michigan. For this project, KYD will partner with the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Services Agency (KRESA), an intermediate school district providing career exploration programming to K-12+ students as well as internships, apprenticeships, and other work-based learning experiences for young people and adult job seekers. Both KYD and KRESA have begun to implement the Critical Youth Development framework to engage youth, young adults, and adults in the process of understanding their racialized identities, creating belonging in multi-racial contexts, and strengthening agency to dismantle oppressive systems to realize a more equitable future. KYD and KRESA will bring a similar approach to this work with their employer partners: Landscape Forms and Duncan Aviation.
Rural Schools Innovation Zone (RSIZ)—Premont, Texas: RSIZ is a collaborative between three independent school districts in South Texas (Brooks County, Freer, and Premont ISDs), an area in which more than 90% of students are Hispanic. RSIZ operates five career-oriented academies leading to dual credit/associate degrees and industry-based certification. Through this project, RSIZ will partner with employers who already have existing partnerships with RSIZ’s career academies and will collect data to better understand employees’ experiences with racism and bias in the workplace, their perceptions of postsecondary and career readiness, and building a sense of belonging in the workplace. These data will illuminate the ways in which schools and communities can partner to combat racism, bias, and oppression within regional education and workforce pipelines.
The Pittsburgh Promise (TPP)—Pittsburgh, Pa.: TPP is a hybrid educational and workforce development organization working to promote high educational aspirations among urban youth, fund scholarships for postsecondary access, and fuel a prepared and diverse regional workforce. Since 2008, the organization has awarded more than $150 million in postsecondary scholarships to more than 10,000 students. For this Project, TPP will partner with UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center), The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., and Thermo Fisher Scientific—three large employer partners who have already made an investment of $1 million or more in The Promise scholarship fund, providing postsecondary scholarships; internships; and, in some cases, full-time careers to students.
Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative (TCCC)—North Charleston, S.C.: TCCC works to build collective power to transform education by changing systems that allow Black and brown children to achieve their goals. As a regional intermediary organization, TCCC aligns community resources, removes barriers, and promotes collaborative efforts to build a regional culture where everyone has access to the supports and resources they need to obtain a high quality education, secure a good job, and live a quality life. TCCC’s theory of action ensures all work in the community, including their work on the Action Roundtable project, is informed by the voices of those who are the most affected by programs, systems, policies and/or practices. As a close partner of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, TCCC will work with the technology solutions firm, eGroup, and other employer partners involved with the Chamber’s Career Academy program.
“We are proud to support this endeavor to center the voices of young workers of color in efforts to increase workplace inclusion and belonging,” said Mylayna Albright, Assistant Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at AT&T. “We know these roundtable discussions and ongoing collaboration between employers, young people, community organizations will result in meaningful transformation that employers around the country can learn from and replicate.”
The Virtual Action Roundtables are made possible through the generous financial support of AT&T; the guidance of steering committee and alliance members; and insight from corporations, foundations, and individuals who invest their resources and time into the YES Project’s mission. https://www.americaspromise.org/yes
The YES Project—Young, Employed, Successful—engages America’s Promise Alliance and its partners in unifying the nation to reach a major collective goal: every young person seeking a job can find a job—and thrive once they get it. www.AmericasPromise.org/YES
America’s Promise Alliance is the driving force behind a nationwide movement to improve the lives and futures of America’s youth. Its work is anchored in the belief that every young person deserves to succeed, and every adult is responsible for making that happen. By bringing together hundreds of national nonprofits, businesses, community and civic leaders, educators, citizens, and young people, the Alliance does what no single organization can do on its own: catalyze action on a scale that reaches millions of young people. www.AmericasPromise.org