The youth-to-work pipeline is broken, but it can be fixed—and business partnerships are key to the solution.
Youth across the country
Nearly, 5.5 million young people are neither in school nor working. And 7 million American youth lack the skill, knowledge, and experiences needed to succeed in school and in jobs. In fact, each young person who is disconnected from school or work costs American taxpayers over $700,000 in lost earnings, lower economic growth, lower tax revenues, and higher government spending.
However, disconnected youth miss an important chance to start on the path to future academic and financial success.
In addition, unemployment and academic under-achievement are associated with :
- a higher incidence of poverty,
- dependence on public assistance,
- contact with the criminal justice system and/or imprisonment,
- health issues, divorce, single parenthood,
- and limited economic opportunity.
For all disconnected youth in this country, the aggregate taxpayer burden is $1.56 trillion, and the social cost is $4.75 trillion.
In Baltimore, more than 1 in 5 young people (ages 16 to 24) is disconnected from work and school. That figure gives Baltimore one of the nation’s highest percentages. According to the Baltimore BERC Report, less than 70% of Baltimore City high school students graduated from high school in 2015.
Urban Alliance – To fix the youth-to-work pipeline
Urban Alliance is a paid internship program. They pair high school seniors with mentors in professional work environments. Their mission is to empower under-resourced youth to aspire, work, and succeed through paid internships, formal training, and mentoring.
More importantly, programs such as Urban Alliance that provide real-world work experience have helped participants gain necessary soft skills. Graduate from high school, attain higher levels of education and increase their salaries by as much as 11% over as many as eight years after high school.
What do they do?
Since 1996, Urban Alliance has been providing internships and professional development to low-income youth across the country. They provide more than 1,500 students with internships in professional settings such as banks, hospitals, government, financial institutions, and nonprofit organizations.
The Urban Alliance program is highly effective in providing youth with unique professional opportunities. They provide necessary supports to ensure success from high school to college and career.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama cited the importance of programs such as Urban Alliance at an event at Columbia College in Chicago:
“There should be programs like [Urban Alliance] in every corner of this country. We have the resources. We’ve got the leadership. We have the know-how. We have the model. So, now we have to ramp it up.”
Urban Alliance and Baltimore city
Now Urban Alliance is taking their proven strategy one step further, via a partnership this upcoming school year with Baltimore City and Chicago public schools to improve current education and workforce challenges. Early employment also predicts future employment.
In short, with a common vision to help young people achieve economic self-sufficiency by eliminating barriers and addressing the opportunity gap, there is a natural synergy between Urban Alliance and Baltimore City and Chicago public schools.