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Making a Mark

A Global Solution to Youth Unemployment

Unemployment affects more than just the economic outlook of communities—it handicaps personal growth and derails dreams. That’s especially true for young adults, 75 million of whom are currently unemployed around the world. And yet, many employers can’t find people to fill their jobs, thanks to inadequate training. United Way is working to bridge this gap by partnering with Generation, a global youth-employment organization founded by McKinsey & Company.

First incubated within the McKinsey Social Initiative, Generation now has a presence in eight countries, 64 cities and more than 150 sites. The goal of Generation is to empower youth to build sustainable careers, while connecting employers with the highly-skilled talent they need. Young adults (ages 18–29) are put through a “boot camp”-style training program for in-demand jobs in 14 trades and professions, and then placed in jobs after graduation. Since 2015, Generation has graduated more than 18,000 young adults with an 83 percent job-placement rate.

Generation’s work in youth employment aligns with our 2028 impact goal to help 5 million people get better jobs. With Generation, we will leverage our assets to train and place 1 million young people in jobs by 2020; launch Generation in 30–50 new cities; expand the reach of existing programs in India, Kenya, Mexico, Spain and the United States; and secure partnerships with national and global companies to ensure the employment of Generation graduates.

Local United Ways have already adopted the program. In August, United Way of Greater Atlanta launched its first training program in the hospitality field. As part of a regional effort to build a skilled workforce outside of Atlanta, and in partnership with the Atlanta Airport Hotel Council and Georgia Hotel and Lodging Association, the program is better communicating and demonstrating the career pathways available within the industry. To date, two training cohorts have been completed, 36 young people have graduated and 29 individuals were placed in jobs.

Through Generation, companies are co-creating programs tailored to their industries, while also boosting job performance and retention. These benefits are also being felt across the globe. To ramp up youth employability across India, United Way India and the Generation India Foundation recently launched Generation United. The partnership was announced in January during a summit in Mumbai where representatives from industry, corporations, NGOs and government discussed solutions to youth unemployment in India.

“Youth unemployment is one of the biggest issues that India is currently battling,” said Sunit Mehra, chairman of United Way of India. “Through this partnership, we are attempting to address the issue by providing thousands of Indian youth with access to skills, leading to meaningful employment.”

In its first year, Generation United aspires to train 2,900 students in the healthcare and customer service professions, and will soon be available in Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Baroda and Kolkata. In Atlanta, India and around the world, Generation and United Way are introducing a solution to youth unemployment that will deliver powerful results for years to come.

Photos by Generation.org photographic team

Partnering to Build Career Pathways

Every day, United Way is fighting to give at-risk youth the skills, tools and experience they need to secure employment and contribute to their communities. It starts with an opportunity. Just ask the 34,000+ young adults who were given summer jobs through the Mayor’s Youth Jobs+ program, a city-wide initiative led by United Way Bay Area and the city of San Francisco.

Founded in 2012 and funded by several partners—including JPMorgan Chase, PG&E, Citi Foundation, Gilead, Bank of America—the Mayor’s Youth Jobs+ program helps low-income and disconnected youth (ages 16-24) develop the skill sets necessary for work, and then connects them to jobs and internships. This year, more than 7,300 young adults gained valuable skills and experiences through the program’s targeted job and internship placement.

Through the Mayor’s Youth at Work Partnership in Jacksonville, United Way of Northeast Florida is building a sustainable pathway of education and opportunity to improve economic mobility. The partnership provides youth (ages 16 to 21) exposure to workforce opportunities, post-secondary credentials, job-readiness training, financial literacy and mentoring.

It’s a year-round program, which starts with a six-week paid summer internship. The partnership is also designed to create a talent-development pipeline that employers can use to fill skill gaps and provide youth hands-on learning experiences, ultimately shaping the trajectory of their future workforce. Next summer, hundreds of youth and young adults will benefit from this partnership, which is supported by the Kids Hope Alliance, JPMorgan Chase and the Citi Foundation.

In New York, United Way of Long Island is supporting young adults through YouthBuild Long Island, a youth- and community-development program that addresses the core issues that are facing low-income communities, such as housing, education and employment. Through the program, which is supported by AT&T, Bank of America and the U.S. Department of Labor, students work toward earning their diploma while learning trade skills, customer service and career readiness.

Across the nation, United Way is also partnering with local employers to ensure military veterans are securing jobs. Through MISSION UNITED™, a program that helps veterans and their families acclimate to civilian life, we are hosting career “boot camps,” facilitating mentor relationships, and connecting veterans with certification and training programs. Whether it’s at-risk youth or veterans in need, United Way is investing in individuals and their communities through employment support.

Character Development through a Digital Lens

In September, the National Football League (NFL) and United Way kicked off Year Two of Character Playbook, the partnership’s program that helps middle school students cultivate and maintain healthy relationships through digital learning. By December of 2017—the halfway point of the 2017-2018 school year—Character Playbook had reached more schools and students than it did in the 2016 school year, with 88,600 students in 1,003 schools completing a total of 300,600 modules.

Building on the success of Character Playbook, the NFL and United Way launched Character Playbook LIVE this year. A remote gathering between NFL teams, their local United Way and schools, Character Playbook LIVE celebrates and explores the importance of character development and healthy relationships through video conference. To date, 40 NFL players from 27 teams have participated in 30 Character Playbook LIVE events, with more than 6,500 students joining them virtually from classrooms and auditoriums across the nation.

“Middle school is such a critical age for children … these students aren’t babies anymore, but they’re not yet adults,” said Tonya Faison, a principal at James Martin Middle School who introduced Character Playbook LIVE with United Way of Central Carolinas. “We, as educators, have to make a conscious effort to continue building character education before they enter high school.”

Powered by EverFi, Character Playbook is playing a critical role in the lives of youth around the country, affording them the tools and knowledge they need to increase their social-emotional learning and academic performance. The introduction of Character Playbook LIVE takes that learning one step further, enabling United Way to “visit” 10 times as many schools than in the program’s inaugural year. The result: more classrooms are engaged and more lives are changed.

To learn more about Character Playbook, visit www.characterplaybook.com.

A Direct Connection to Childcare Resources

One in seven—that’s how many children in the United States are reported to have a diagnosed mental, behavioral or developmental disorder, according to a children’s health survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Still more children go undiagnosed each year due to inaccessible health services or a lack of awareness about local support systems.

Help Me Grow, a collaborative approach to making available developmental and behavioral screening for children, is being implemented nationally to address this need. United Ways and 2-1-1—a free service that connects people to local resources— are the centralized access points for 55 percent of the Help Me Grow systems in the U.S. Through Help Me Grow, they are connecting people to child health, behavior, development and learning resources; providing parents with answers to their questions; and ensuring children can participate in developmental screenings.

Many United Ways and 2-1-1s receive support from a variety of corporate partners, such as AT&T, which make it possible for Help Me Grow systems to give parents the confidence they need to make decisions for their children’s future. This year alone, United Way Volusia-Flagler Counties conducted more than 900 development screenings through the program. After the screenings, a Help Me Grow coordinator connected families to community-based resources to assist them with the identified needs and concerns regarding their child’s growth, development and education.

Every day, 2-1-1s are helping children and families in need. Of the 14.8 million requests for assistance that 2-1-1 answered this year, 31,000 were for developmental assessments and screenings; 40,000 were for connections to child care providers; and 37,000 were for early childhood education and literacy programs.

Learn more about 2-1-1 by visiting www.211.org.