America’s Promise Alliance launched the YES Project (Young, Employed, and Successful), a major national youth employment initiative aimed at achieving full employment for America’s young people aged 16 to 24 by 2030. With 1.5 million young people searching but unable to secure jobs, the initiative brings together youth, employers, and a diverse network of stakeholders working to support, fuel, and grow a healthy and robust youth workforce.
The initiative was officially unveiled at the ASU + GSV Summit in San Diego, California, where the YES Project leadership team led a workshop on the power of connections—and how the business community, educators, policymakers, and philanthropists can help to link youth to new opportunities.
Ensuring Every Young Person Is ‘Ready, Connected, Supported’
The YES Project is rooted in the belief that we all share in the collective responsibility 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.
“There’s a growing body of research demonstrating young people benefit tremendously from the connections developed in the workplace,” said Nathaniel Cole, Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships at America’s Promise Alliance. “But before youth enter the workplace, preparation is needed. Once young people secure employment, coaching is crucial for success. The YES Project’s framework—ready, connected, and supported to succeed—pinpoints essential components of the employment journey that all of us can champion.”
Research has found that youth employment has a lasting and positive influence on the lives of young people by putting them on a pathway toward self-reliance and better positioning them for future success. Despite the growing number of youth actively seeking jobs, too many young people are unable to find work—missing out on important opportunities to contribute to their communities and to cultivate skills that will serve them for years. At the same time, employers are facing challenges in finding qualified people to fill the jobs they need. Many promising efforts are happening in communities across the country to meet these challenges. The YES Project—which builds on the success of the GradNation campaign that America’s Promise has led to dramatically improve high school graduation rates—will bring attention and energy to these efforts and spark new approaches to helping young people become ready, connected, and supported to succeed in work.
“We are looking to build a community of people that recognize the importance of helping young people find work, mentorship, and the job skills they’ll need for future success,” said John Gomperts, President and CEO of America’s Promise Alliance. “So many lives and communities will change for the better if we are able to create and grow the youth employment movement we envision.”
#PledgeYES Builds on LinkedIn’s #PlusOnePledge; Calls for Action in Support of Youth
As part of the YES Project’s launch, employers, community leaders, and advocates across the country are being urged to #PledgeYES. In doing so, they are committing to connecting young people with employment opportunities and valuable contacts, giving advice on the job search and interview process, and providing support after employment. #PledgeYES builds on LinkedIn’s #PlusOnePledge, which is bringing together professionals on LinkedIn to commit to sharing their time, talent, or connections with people outside of their regular network.
“The power of a network cannot be overestimated. It’s a critical factor to securing a meaningful job and some individuals have a significant advantage given their social and professional connections,” said LinkedIn’s Head of Social Impact, Meg Garlinghouse.”Those of us with built-in networks or social capital have a responsibility to help change the playing field and start to democratize access to opportunity for everyone. We can champion what we at LinkedIn call the ‘Plus One Pledge,’ which is to use our networks to help those without them and, ultimately, close the network gap.”
By adding #PledgeYES to their #PlusOnePledge, individuals can signal they are also virtually raising their hands and making themselves available to support young people on the path to finding a place in the world of work.
The YES Pledge will be tracked through email sign-ups via its landing page. Individuals who sign-up will contribute to the overall number of people who take action towards full employment for youth.
As part of its launch, the YES Project is also supporting key youth employment efforts in four communities across the country through a series of grants to bolster their work in better understanding and preparing young people to be ready, connected, and supported for employment. The communities and affiliated organizations, who are members of the Aspen Institute Opportunity Youth Forum, include the Ancestral Lands Hopi Program (Hope Reservation, AZ), Capital Workforce Partners (Hartford, CT), Thrive Chicago (Chicago, IL), and Austin’s Opportunity Youth Collaborative (Austin, TX).
“Young people need to be able to build the social capital that’s critical to being competitive in the 21st century workforce. A caring mentor that serves as a role model and is invested in that young person’s future can help build those networks,” said Brandee McHale, President of the Citi Foundation. “The Citi Foundation is proud to support America’s Promise Alliance YES Project, which connects young people to mentors that can help ensure that they have that access and put them on the path to full employment – and, ultimately, economic progress.”
To achieve its ambitious goal of full youth employment by 2030—defined as at least 95% of employment-aged young people who are actively seeking employment—the initiative is harnessing the resources, influence, and support of the Alliance’s vast and diverse network of more than 450 national partners, 250 state and local community members, and a steering committee representing corporations and organizations that are committed to building and supporting a thriving youth workforce. Collectively, the YES Project will drive the nation toward action, amplify best practices, and galvanize more cross-sector collaboration to create the conditions necessary for young people to thrive—today and well into the future.
For more information about the YES Project and to #PledgeYES, please visit AmericasPromise.org/YES.