Summer is months away, but in the down economy, summer jobs are a scarcity, and young people need to start looking now to get hired. At-risk youth are often the last to apply, waiting until school is almost out to start their search.
That is why United Way seized the opportunity to lead the Bay Area in support of Summer Jobs+, President Obama’s call-to-action for businesses, nonprofits, and government to provide pathways to employment for low-income and disconnected youth in the summer of 2012.
Last week, we hosted three Community Conversations in the Bay Area, bringing together more than 100 businesses and community leaders to discuss how we can work together to help at-risk youth build their careers. These meetings are among more than 100 Summer Jobs + gatherings hosted by United Ways in 30 cities across the country this spring. Many have been attended by members of the White House Council on Community Solutions, which is focused on the issue of disadvantaged youth, or “Opportunity Youth” – young people who may not be in school or work now, but with access to education, relevant training and social support, can infuse our economy with new skills and leadership.
I’m pleased to report that during our first two meetings, 95 jobs and internships for young people were pledged by Bay Area companies. These commitments will provide youth from United Way’s MatchBridge program with the professional experiences they need to kick-start their careers and build the foundation for financial stability.
White House Councilmember and Revolution Foods Founder and CEO Kristin Richmond, who spoke at one of our forums said, “What moved me most was that the companies around the table ‘get it.’ Regardless of what they produce or the service they provide – or how much exposure they have had to disconnected youth – each understands that every young person has the potential to strengthen our economy with skills and leadership.”
I encourage you to read Kristin’s post, “San Francisco Business Leaders Convene to support Opportunity Youth,” on the Corporation for National and Community Service blog.
And, I invite you to join United Way to support Opportunity Youth in the Bay Area and around the nation. Please consider pledging jobs and/or sponsoring youth internships through our MatchBridge youth employment program. To learn more, contact United Way’s Debra Reisenthel at 415.808.4371 or email@example.com.