By: David Williams, CEO – Genesys Works
Today, there are millions of young people across America between the ages of 16 and 24 years old neither in school nor working. The Aspen Institute estimates there are 4.6 million “opportunity youth” currently disconnected from school or work, representing 1 in 9 members of this age group in the U.S. They are disproportionately young people of color and from low-income backgrounds.
This disconnection is not only difficult for youth themselves, it is also costly to society at large. Young people who do not connect to the workforce early on tend to remain reliant on government programs on an ongoing basis. According to Opportunity Nation, young adults not in school nor working cost taxpayers $93 billion annually in lost revenues and increased social services.
Fortunately, a number of initiatives have been launched in recent years to help opportunity youth get back on track. Programs like Year Up, Per Scholas, and This Way Ahead are helping to address the consequences of disconnection by providing unemployed young adults with new opportunities to enter the workforce. But addressing the symptoms of disconnection is not enough. We need programs that help prevent youth from ever becoming disconnected from school or work in the first place – programs like Genesys Works.
By connecting low-income students with meaningful work opportunities and college and career coaching while they are still in high school, Genesys Works prevents otherwise at-risk youth from ever becoming disconnected from education and employment. As a result of the skills training and corporate work experiences we provide, 100% of our students graduate from high school with 94% going on to enroll in college. And with a focus on in-demand fields such as information technology and finance, our alumni out-earn their peers by most measures. This provides a significant societal benefit as highlighted in a recent social return on investment study conducted by Columbia University, which concluded that for every dollar invested in Genesys Works there is a $13.46 economic benefit to society.
We all know how empowering a job can be. And we’ve seen the magic that happens when we’re able to connect student motivation with real opportunity. By connecting youth with the right opportunities and support structures at the right time, we can help move more teens out of poverty and into the economic mainstream, and in doing so, make our communities a better place to live and work for all.
About Genesys Works
Genesys Works provides pathways to career success for high school students in underserved communities through skills training, meaningful work experiences, and impactful relationships. Our program consists of 8 weeks of technical and professional skills training, a paid year-long corporate internship, college and career coaching, and alumni support to and through college. Our goal is to move more students out of poverty and into professional careers, creating a more productive and diverse workforce in the process. Since its founding in 2002, Genesys Works has grown to serve nearly 4,000 students annually in Houston, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Washington’s National Capital Region. To learn more, visit genesysworks.org.