Non-profit organization provides skills to tackle youth unemployment

Philanthropy Roundtable believes that every American should have the freedom to reach their unique full potential and achieve economic security. The roundtable supports organizations that break down barriers to upward mobility, expand opportunities, and reward hard work and persistence.

Due to school closures amid the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of young people have been disengaged from education at potentially high costs to their future. As students leave high school classrooms without a clear post-secondary path, many will be long-term excluded from family living wages and the American Dream, and instead exist on the fringes of the economy. But organizations like Jobs for America’s Graduates are working to prepare young people for success by collaborating between government, business and community leaders to align education with employment.

For more than 40 years, Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) has served America’s most vulnerable young people, helping them stay in school, graduate, and transition into the working economy and post-secondary education. JAG operates at 1,500 sites in 40 states, where organization leaders have seen firsthand the deleterious effects of the pandemic on students – everything from rising dropout rates to learning loss and an increased achievement gap. Moreover, a 2021 McKinsey & Company Report shows that the pandemic has impacted not just academics, but the broader health and well-being of students, with more than 35% of parents very or extremely concerned about their children’s mental health. Despite these effects, the JAG Class of 2020 achieved a graduation rate of 96.7% and its unemployment rate was three times lower than the national youth unemployment rate, which is 30% among 18-19 year olds.

Photo courtesy of Jobs for America’s Graduates

The JAG program begins as early as 6th grade, when specialists provide counselling, skills development, career association and experiential learning to improve academic performance, academic behavior, attendance, confidence, participation and self-esteem. This support during the college years provides students with the freedom to explore and experiment with career options. Early exposure to potential careers creates positive associations, which are useful in the high school setting, where stress about the future can rob students of the joy of discovering their unique paths. The program combines classroom support with project-based learning, a skills-based curriculum, summer job training, and support from caring adults. Support continues 12 months after high school graduation to ensure students have the resources they need to succeed in the next stage of their journey.

JAG’s programming is linked to a larger strategy called “Youth Opportunity and Outcomes 2024”. The organization is committed to providing opportunities for tens of thousands more young people. JAG outlines its strategic objectives in a three-year plan that prioritizes opportunities and results for young people and commits to investing in its national network of 40 affiliates. Leaders of the organization expect the plan to help today’s youth for years to come.

The “Youth Opportunity and Outcomes 2024” strategy will have four priorities:

  • Invest in the network: The organization is committed to investing more in the development of its affiliates and its staff.
  • Serving more youth: JAG’s goal is to serve 150,000 youth per year by 2024-2025.
  • Tell the JAG Story: JAG leaders are investing to elevate the organization’s brand as a program that works in times of great need while providing leadership development and civic engagement to amplify youth voices and their personal success.
  • Better outcomes through enhanced services: JAG is focused on improving students’ skills through innovative partnerships and technology, preparing them to enter the workforce and advance in their careers with opportunities for success and upward mobility.

These strategic goals are designed to take advantage of the current labor shortage, as employers urgently seek new hires for better jobs that include accelerated career paths and access to education and training. additional training. In this way, JAG intends to seize the best labor market opportunities in recent history, ultimately helping to provide young people with the skills and tools necessary to succeed in their careers – and achieve their unique American Dream.

Want to help accelerate the impact of this organization? Please visit POINT or contact Erica Haines, Philanthropy Roundtable Program Director.