May 16, 2019

100,000 Opportunities Initiative: Connecting Young People with Jobs

Author Dan McKenzie, Nat'l Dir. of Community Partnerships at 100,000 Opportunities Initiative

Today the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative is launching its second National Youth Hiring Day, marking a milestone in our project’s effort to connect the country’s estimated 4.5 million opportunity youth—16- to 24-year-olds who are not in school and out of work—with jobs.

When the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative first began in 2015, our goal was to help 100,000 opportunity youth get hired. At the time, more than a dozen leading U.S. companies comprised our coalition, making it the largest employer-led initiative in the country. Today, we have grown to more than 300 community organizations and more than 55 corporate partners—including founding members Starbucks, FedEx, Walmart, Lyft, the Schultz Family Foundation and others—and have helped 200,000-plus young people across the country land entry-level jobs.

We began by hosting Opportunity Youth Job Fairs in key cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Seattle and Washington, D.C. We also forged relationships with local nonprofits that could assist opportunity youth with job-search training, including building LinkedIn profiles, developing interview skills, and assistance with interview clothing.

As many as 47% of applicants were hired on the spot.

Equally important, young people hired through us are exceeding expectations. As Brian Smith, recruitment marketing analyst for Chipotle, says, “We’ve found that the 100,000 Opportunity youth are retaining jobs better and getting promoted faster because they’re hungry for that opportunity.”

As our fiscal sponsor, National Philanthropic Trust has assumed the daily administrative responsibilities of running our nonprofit project, such as tax compliance and legal and fiduciary oversight. This has kept us free to focus on our core mission.

Today, our coalition members have committed to hiring 1 million young people by 2021—increasing our original goal by a factor of 10. We are also doubling down on efforts to share best practices among employers around hiring, retention, career growth and support. Together we will change the face of economic prosperity and disrupt the cycle of poverty across the country.