Increasing availability and access to critical development programs, to reach millions of kids and teens who just need a door opened to begin their path to a better future.
The past 15 months have uncovered deep gaps in equitable and equal opportunities that exist for kids and teens. Young people face inequities in education, career mentoring, internships for work experience, and a competitive labor market that makes it challenging to advance. These cycles of racial and other deeply impacting inequities create generational challenges for youth to succeed beyond high school with a plan for the future.
Right now, one in nine teens are not attending school and are unemployed. That rate is higher for teens of color. The ongoing pandemic has severely impacted a decade of progress we’ve made in addressing this disparity.
Workforce programming and skill building is one of the top requests from teens at local Clubs. Research shows that introducing young people to the world of work at an earlier developmental stage helps them not only plan for their future careers, but also motivates them to connect their education to future opportunities, while building self-esteem to achieve ambitious goals. Doesn’t that perfectly describe what Boys & Girls Clubs do each day?
We have a prime opportunity to bolster and expand our workforce readiness and skill building programming through the recently re-introduced Youth Workforce Readiness Act of 2021 (S. 1696/H.R. 3342). The Congressional bill aims to bridge that gap with a Department of Labor grant that will support skill-building programs and learning experiences starting as early as age six, like those offered by out-of-school time providers including Boys & Girls Clubs.
This legislation is a key priority and is a part of our Agenda for America's Youth. Thanks to the tireless work of advocates sharing their Club stories and experiences with members of Congress this was re-introduced in the 117th Congress. Its passage will only be achieved by mindful and visionary advocates like you.
Programs at Boys & Girls Clubs prepare youth to have more agency and teaches them to be the architects of their future. This co-creation mindset increases the self-esteem, and self-confidence of all youth. It provides them with the essential skills they need to succeed in the design or attainment of a career of their choice. Our workforce programs focus on four pillars of youth workforce readiness that we know our kids need in order to succeed, including essential skills development, career exposure, employability and certification, and work-based learning. This continues and strengthens the important work that Clubs do each day to enable and empower youth.
A model example of this work is the Youth Force program at Boys & Girls Clubs of King County in Seattle, Washington. Club teens are connected to new opportunities to prepare them for life after graduation. The program engages teens with employment opportunities and career development workshops, while creating value for the community by helping build the skills pipeline for local businesses. Teens begin the program with a series of workshops targeted to prepare them for a future job and career, after going through career counseling, resume writing and mentoring, they are then placed in internships with local businesses where they build employment skills alongside peers. From the Seattle Seahawks to Bank of America, the Boys & Girls Club of King County is fueling the community by supporting youth skill building while bridging teens to local businesses where they gain the access and opportunity to succeed after high school graduation.
By supporting modern and innovative programs that embody the rich diversity, inclusion and environments of belonging community organizations can address educational and cultural workforce inequities that unfortunately impact kids of color and their families. By increasing availability and access to critical development programs, we can reach millions of kids and teens who just need a door opened to begin their path to a better future.