Tag Archive | at-risk youth

Six Practices and Principles for Effective Employment Programming for Opportunity Youth

By David T. Applegate, Research and Policy Assistant, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity

Youth participants from Larkin Street Youth Services.

Photo courtesy of Larkin Street Youth Services.

There’s increasing national recognition that opportunity youth, or youth ages 16 to 24 years old who aren’t working or in school, can benefit substantially from gaining work experience but need help overcoming barriers to employment. Opportunity youth facing the most significant challenges—such as living in poverty, being involved in the justice system, or experiencing homelessness—often need the most intensive help to get and keep jobs, but are at risk of being left behind even by employment programs designed to help at-risk youth.

After digging into the research literature and conducting extensive interviews with opportunity youth employment providers across the country, we’ve just released a new toolkit and webinar about promising practices and principles for helping opportunity youth with the greatest barriers to employment succeed in the workforce. Here are the six promising practices and principles we’ve identified to guide employment programming for the most vulnerable opportunity youth.

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The Dovetail Project Helps Young Fathers Succeed in Employment

By James A. Jones, Field Engagement Coordinator, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity

June 2015 Class
This Father’s Day, as we honor the contributions of dads across the country, we’d like to highlight the needs of an often overlooked population: young fathers. Between 1990 and 2010, the teen pregnancy rate declined by 51 percent. However, that decline may have been even greater if there were an increase in efforts to engage young fathers. Traditionally, young mothers have been at the center of research, prevention, and assistance efforts. As a result, little is known about best practices in engaging young fathers. What we do know is that teen fathers are less likely than their peers to graduate from high school and subsequently face significant barriers to employment and economic stability.

The Dovetail Project is a Chicago-based organization whose sole mission is increasing employment opportunities and parenting skills of young, at-risk fathers. Sheldon Smith, founder of the Dovetail Project, started the organization to address an issue that shaped his life as well as countless other young men in his community: absent fathers. As the son of a young father, Sheldon endured his father’s absence and lack of financial and emotional support, the result of unemployment, incarceration, and no parenting skills. This left Sheldon with a burning desire to end the cycle of fatherless children when he became a dad at age 20. The National Initiatives team recently spoke with Sheldon about the Dovetail Project and the strategies he attributes to its success.

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Summer Jobs for Youth Reduce Violent Crime

By David T. Applegate, Research and Policy Assistant, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity

 SGA

It turns out that having a summer job can reduce violent crime among young people from highly disadvantaged neighborhoods—even more than a year after the summer job has ended. During the summer of 2012, Chicago’s One Summer Plus program offered eight weeks of subsidized, part-time summer employment, an adult job mentor, and—in some cases—a social emotional learning curriculum to youth with barriers to employment. An experimental study evaluating One Summer Plus found that over the next 16 months, violent crime arrests among youth who were offered summer jobs decreased by 43 percent compared to youth who weren’t.

By helping to implement One Summer Plus, SGA Youth & Family Services (SGA) has been central to Chicago’s efforts to curb violence and increase summer employment opportunities for the city’s vulnerable youth. SGA works in over forty communities across Chicago and offers a wide variety of services ranging from operating community health clinics to educational support and, of course, youth employment opportunities.

The National Initiatives team spoke with Jamie Roth, SGA’s Director of Workforce Development, to discuss the organization’s role in One Summer Plus and its broader work to combat poverty and bring hope and change to local communities across Chicago.

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Vermont Works for Women: Connecting Women and Girls to the Transformative Power of Work

By David T. Applegate, Research and Policy Assistant, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity

TJat Intervale 2014

The impacts of poverty are deeply felt across racial and gender divides – but there is no denying that poverty is a particularly important issue for women. The numbers don’t lie: there are nearly 18 million women living in poverty in the United States and women are twice as likely as men to retire into poverty.

Vermont Works for Women (VWW) was founded 27 years ago with the intent of bridging the gender gap in employment – particularly in traditionally male-dominated fields like carpentry, plumbing, and other trades. Over time, VWW’s mission has expanded and evolved to a broader focus of promoting economic independence for women and girls.

Recently, Rachel Jolly – director of women’s programs at VWW – took the time to talk with the National Initiatives team about the employment services provided by VWW to women and girls in Vermont. In our interview, we discussed VWW’s emphasis on meeting individual participants where they are at in their employment and educational needs and the importance to the economy of increasing and diversifying the career opportunities for women and girls.

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Through Employment, Larkin Street Helps Youth “Get off the Street for Good”

By Caitlin C. Schnur, Coordinator, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity

Photo for Larkin Blog

In preparation for an upcoming best practice guide on employment services for youth, we’ve spent the past few weeks in conversation with practitioners and program administrators in the field to gather and lift up their expertise in helping at-risk young job seekers succeed in employment. Recently, we sat down with Jamie Fountain, Associate Director of Workforce Development at Larkin Street Youth Services. Located in San Francisco, Larkin Street got its start in the 1980s serving bagged lunches to youth experiencing homelessness in San Francisco’s Polk Gulch neighborhood. Today, Larkin Street has 25 programs across 14 program sites and offers youth experiencing and at-risk of homelessness a comprehensive set of services including housing, medical care, and education and employment services via Larkin’s Hire Up program. While in Hire Up, youth can receive job readiness training, learn computer and technology skills, earn wages as part of supervised, entry-level work crew, and participate in paid internships with local businesses and organizations.

Larkin Street recognizes that youth’s success in employment is critical to its mission to “help kids get off the street for good.” In this conversation, Jamie talks about how “failure” yields innovation, the power of supportive relationships in helping youth get and keep jobs, and why it’s important to celebrate success along the journey to sustainable employment.

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