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Chicago Youth Jobs Collaborative

The Chicago Youth Jobs Collaborative, presented by the Chicago Urban League and the Common Ground Foundation, is a movement to organize public, private and nonprofit stakeholders collectively to advocate for resources and support services to address youth employment needs. This collaborative is a strong, youth-centered effort focused on securing year round jobs for young people ages 16 to 24.

Community partners include: Alternative Schools Network (ASN), Austin Peoples Action Center (APAC), Centers for New Horizons, Chicago Jobs Council and UCAN. In addition to inaugural partners, the collaborative looks to secure partners in the private and public sectors. Launching in the fall of 2014, in the first year, The Chicago Youth Jobs Collaborative seeks to provide year round jobs to a minimum of 1,000 youth with the intent to increase this number by one thousand per year over the next four years, for a target of 15,000 youth impacted over the next five years.

CALL TO ACTION: YEAR ROUND JOBS FOR YOUTH!

All adult careers began with that first good job. Chicago youth are significantly underemployed and lack connections to employers providing year-long job opportunities. While summer jobs programs provide important opportunities, once the summer ends, youth employment typically ends, too. For many young people, the potential value of their future earnings is their number one asset. Lifelong career development begins in adolescence and what matters most for career development is the opportunity to apply knowledge, skills and passion to actual work.

Youth employment opportunities reduce crime. Unemployment has long been associated with increases in criminal activity, but working youth are less likely to engage in delinquent activities. A recent study from the University of Chicago Crime Lab shows violent crime arrests among at-risk youth who participated in the Chicago’s anti-violence 2012 One Summer Plus program dropped 51 percent. These positive gains occurred after a term of summer employment coupled with supportive programming. Research has shown that reductions in criminal activity are more significant when youth employment programs offer job opportunities that are of a sufficient length, so the push for year-long employment coupled with supportive programming is essential.

Chicago Urban League, Common Ground Foundation and other CBO’s can unify in coordinating a local youth employment movement. Chicago youth need advocates committed to organizing government, nonprofit and for profit stakeholders, pushing for funding and resources and calling for services to address youth employment needs. A unified strategy recognizes the need for collective action. A strong, youth-centered movement focuses on getting young people aged 16-24 years old to work.

Work is the common denominator. Many paths lead to employment and career development. High school students, graduates on the path to vocational careers, graduates on the road to college and young people that have disconnected from school may be different in every other way but their need for work. Comprehensive programs that provide youth direct work experience, skills training, educational and life supports and mentoring relationships and also bring together a diverse employer pool funnel adolescents onto an employment track that can have lifelong impacts on their career development.

Best practices coupled with innovative enhancements provide the supports and skills that youth need now to find employment and develop careers. Youth employment programs must contain key components shown to help young people secure and retain jobs. Academic and life supports, employability skills and career exploration are a great first start. But job placement, training and life skills supports should be responsive to both the region and the needs of this generation, For example, the Millennial generation and younger have shown the greatest interest in entrepreneurship and small business ownership than any generation cohort before them.

PROGRAM SUPPORTS FOR CHICAGO'S YOUTH JOB SEEKERS

Best Practices in Youth Employment

  • Academic Supports
  • Socioemotional Learning
  • Employability Skills
  • Career Exploration
  • Job Placement
  • Mentoring and Job Coaching

Innovative Enhancements

  • Connections to regional high growth industries. The project will connect youth to top regional industries: Business & Financial Services, Manufacturing, Biotech,  InfoTech, Health, Transportation & Distribution. 
  • Connections to microenterprise and small business firms. The project will recruit up to 10% of its employer partners from the small business/entrepreneurial community to connect interested youth to this important driver of job creation.
  • Leadership and entrepreneurship skills development. Being a leader and an entrepreneur is not a job title, but a state of mind. Creating a vision, taking initiative, and chasing down opportunity are important skills regardless of a young person’s desired field or occupation.
  • Financial literacy. Earning a paycheck is important, but knowing how to responsibly handle this paycheck is equally important.
  • Youth/Community Advisory Board. Youth and youth advocates need a forum for the discussion of ideas, innovations and strategies for improving the employment environment for youth in Chicago.

 
A FIVE-YEAR PLAN FOR EMPLOYING CHICAGO’S YOUTH

GOAL: Place youth in jobs with public and private firms in regional high-growth industries.

Year 1:  1,000 youth served at 5 community organizations
Year 2:  2,000 youth served at 10 community organizations
Year 3:  3,000 youth served at 15 community organizations
Year 4:  4,000 youth served at 20 community organizations
Year 5:  5,000 youth served at 25 community organizations
 
Inaugural Community Partners List (Tentative):
• Common Ground Foundation
• Alternative Schools Network
• Austin Peoples Action Center (APAC)
• Center for New Horizons
• Chicago Jobs Council (CJC)
• UCAN


Frequently Asked Questions

1) What is the Chicago Youth Jobs Collaborative?
The Chicago Youth Jobs Collaborative (YJC) is a movement to organize public, private and nonprofit stakeholders in a collective effort to advocate for resources and support services to address youth employment needs. This collaborative is a strong, youth-centered effort focused on securing year round jobs for young people ages 16 to 24.


2) Who are the conveners of the Chicago Youth Jobs Collaborative?
The Chicago YJC is being led by the Chicago Urban League and the Common Ground Foundation. Currently, our collaborative partners include the following community organizations: Alternative Schools Network (ASN), Austin Peoples Action Center (APAC), Centers for New Horizons, Chicago Jobs Council and UCAN. In addition to our inaugural partners, we will also work with the private and public sectors to secure year round youth employment opportunities.

3) Why is this initiative being launched?
Academic achievement and civic engagement go up and violence goes down when we give young people jobs that are connected to mentoring and support services. Each year the Chicago Urban League hosts a youth jobs hearing in partnership with the Alternative Schools Network. At this event, young people who have benefitted from summer jobs give powerful testimony about the valuable skills and mentoring they received and how they are excited to continue working. They also share how, because of their summer job, they were kept out of harm’s way. This initiative seeks to extend youth job opportunities beyond the summer. We recognize that year round job opportunities will significantly improve the well-being of our youth and strengthen our city.

4) What types of job opportunities will be sought out for youth?
Recognizing that many of our youth have challenges to overcome, we will, in collaboration with our community partners, work to identify year round jobs and we will provide mentoring and support services. We will reach out to employers in the public, private and nonprofit sectors and advocate for job opportunities that include academic supports, employability skills, and career exploration. In addition, we will seek out job opportunities in high growth sectors (e.g. business and financial services, manufacturing, health, transportation, etc.) that will lead to careers and that provide our young people with the skills and motivation they need to become thriving members of the workforce and, if they choose, entrepreneurs.

5) Who are the additional collaborators in this initiative?
The founding community collaborators are listed above. However, this initiative is designed to grow over time. Each of the founding collaborators will recruit additional partners from the public, private and nonprofit sectors. We will work as a unified group of advocates committed to organizing stakeholders, pushing for funding and resources. This will be a unified movement that will galvanize support for this year round youth jobs initiative.
Examples of collaboration partners include: public and private funding partners; city, municipal and county and state agencies; local jobs councils; private industry; secondary schools; colleges and universities; and community based career centers. Everyone has a role to play in this collaborative.

6) When will the year round jobs start?
The first year of job implementation for Chicago’s youth will begin in the fall of 2014.

7) How many youth will be served by this initiative?
In the first year seek to provide year round jobs to a minimum of 1,000 youth. It is our intent to increase this number by one thousand per year over the next four years, for a grand total of 15,000 youth impacted over the next five years.

8) How will this program and the jobs be funded?
In collaboration with our community partners we will connect with funding partners across all sectors to support subsidized and unsubsidized year round job opportunities for youth.

9) What will be the impact of this collaborative?
The YJC recognizes that investing in year-round job opportunities in high growth industries and support services for young people can lead to more economically secure youth who are engaged in productive activities that will not only empower their lives and the lives of their families, but will strengthen the workforce of the future as well as the local economy for the next generation. A year round investment in youth employment will contribute to empowered individuals, stronger families, a reduction in violence, stabilized communities and a better Chicago.

For more information about the Chicago Youth Jobs Collaborative, please contact Clayton, Director of Workforce Development, at 773-624-8827 or cpryor@thechicagourbanleague.org.