How the White House is Helping Stem the Summer Opportunity Gap
The initiative, the Summer Opportunity Project, came on the heels of a $5.5 billion national investment proposal to help young people find work—an aptly named ‘First Job’ fund—and an increased effort to connect Opportunity Youth, young adults ages 16-24 who are out of school and out of work, to previously inaccessible jobs. According to the White House, the multi-agency effort aspires to bridge the end of one school year and the beginning of the next, a time that typically leads to a widening gap of achievement between Opportunity Youth and their peers who have greater access to things like summer internships.
The event centered on the White House’s most recent Champions of Change, a selection of local leaders who head up community action that close the opportunity gap through jobs, education and meals. The Champions at today’s event were specific to summertime initiatives. At the White House meeting, Senior Advisor to the President and Assistant to the President for Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs Valerie Jarrett and Acting U.S. Secretary of Education John King, Jr. sat with the Champions to discuss best practices going forward as the plans for the Summer Opportunity Project were set in motion.
The Project is a roundup of commitments from the private sector, federal agencies, local government and the Office of the President. LinkedIn’s Influencer series, for example, is part of a new engagement strategy to connect small and medium sized businesses with local and state organizations to help young people access summer jobs in 72 cities across the United States.
Three cities have already made specific commitments to programs that would make summer jobs for young people a priority. Los Angeles committed to hiring 15,000 young people through its Hire L.A.’s Youth program. Seattle also committed to positively impacting 15,000 youth in the areas of employment, meals and education. In Charlotte, North Carolina, 360 paid internships will be made available this summer for young people.
At the federal level, the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) released a new Federal Resources Guide at today’s event. The guide is meant to help local governments and non-profits navigate the red tape around finding federal funding and open channels of partnership between the federal government and local communities. The ‘First Job’ funding proposal also put forth a number of commitments, including a $500 million Workforce Data Science and Innovation Fund to help training programs keep pace with a rapidly changing economic environment and a $2 billion Apprenticeship Training Fund. The President also doubled last year’s budget request with a $5.5 billion proposal to connect more than 1 million young people with their first jobs.
“We need to do everything we can to make sure America’s young people get the opportunity to earn the skills and a work ethic that come with a job,” Obama said. “It’s important for their future, and for America’s.”
The “opportunity gap” is usually defined as the time when young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 are not in school or fully employed. During summer break that gap routinely widens causing an increasing number of Opportunity Youth to fall behind. The Summer Opportunity Project aims to narrow that gap, cutting off a main artery in the flow of young people without access to jobs.
In his LinkedIn post, Obama admits his summer at Baskin-Robbins “wasn’t exactly glamorous,” but it did put something on his resume, providing him with the foundation that ultimately led to a pretty stellar job.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that President Obama sat down with the Champions of Change. In fact, it was Senior Advisor to the President and Assistant to the President for Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs Valerie Jarrett and Acting U.S. Secretary of Education John King, Jr. who opened the event. We apologize for this error.
The GradsofLifeVoice Forbes team provides thought leadership, research and expert commentary on innovative talent pipelines and related issues such as the skills gap, income inequality, workforce diversity, and the business case for employment pathways. We seek to change employers’ perceptions of young adults with atypical resumes from social liabilities to economic assets. This post was originally featured here.
Government/Policy, Hiring & Retention Practices,
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