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The White House Council for Community Solutions conducted extensive research and outreach to learn about community collaboration and pathways to employment for youth. In collaboration with our partners, the Council also created a series of tools and resources for community leaders and employers to support opportunity youth.

Resources for Communities
Community Collaboratives Toolbox (PDF)
Community Collaboratives White Paper (PDF)
Case Studies of Effective Collaboratives (PDF)

Resources for Employers
A Toolkit for Employers: Connecting Youth and Business (PDF)

Research Reports
Economic Value of Opportunity Youth (PDF)

Council Meeting Materials

Final Report

Community Solutions for Opportunity Youth (PDF)
Recommendations Summary

Resources for Communities

To better understand what makes significant community-wide change happen, the Council conducted significant research, including conversations with more than 50 experts and cross-sector leaders and an extensive review of approximately 100 collaborations. The Council's work also was informed by the seminal article written by Foundation Strategy Group (FSG) and published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review in Winter 2011. The Council was seeking to identify communities that demonstrated needle-moving (+10%) change on a community-wide metric. Based on this research, the Council believes that long-term, cross-sector collaboratives that use data-driven decision making in aspiring to significant change on a community wide metric holds real promise in solving complex community challenges.

The Council has developed this Community Collaboratives Toolbox to guide communities in creating or improving their own needle-moving collaboratives. This Toolbox is geared toward:

  • Local officials (such as mayors, school superintendents and police chiefs) exploring collaboratives as a means to create broad-based change in their community
  • Leaders and staff of community organizations seeking to make significant progress in their community
  • Intermediaries shaping and supporting collaboratives
  • Partner organizations participating in collaboratives

The Community Collaboratives Toolbox includes a detailed guide of key activities and resources for each stage of a collaborative’s “life cycle”, as well as an assessment module to better understand whether a collaborative is prepared to move to the next stage. There are also tools on how to structure collaboratives most effectively and how to best generate meaningful community participation.

The Community Collaboratives Toolbox consists of four primarily tools, each of which is filled with additional resources to move collaboratives toward success:

“Building or Improving a Community Collaborative – Guidance by Life Cycle Stage”: Describes the five stages of a collaborative’s life, including case studies, a checklist of key activities, and common roadblocks for each stage

“Community Collaborative Assessment – A Diagnostic of Success Readiness”: Helps communities evaluate a collaborative’s readiness to implement its action plan in the community

“Community Collaboratives Learning Examples: Capacity, Structure, Data and Funding”: Provides examples from successful collaborative's on these four critical success factors.

“Community Collaboratives: The Next Generation of Community Participation”: Describes how to generate meaningful community participation, a critical element to community collaborative success.

In addition to the Toolbox, the Council developed case studies of effective collaboratives and the impact achieved in their respective communities.

Resources for Employers

Youth employment is a critical element of success for young people. Unfortunately, the recession has had a particularly hard impact on youth employment. Only 45 percent of youth between the ages of 16-24 were employed the end of August, including only 33.8 percent of African American youth. This is significantly lower than the 54.5 percent of youth who were employed five years ago and 56.1 percent of youth who were employed 10 years ago. Only 21 out of every 100 teens in low-income families had a job this past summer.

We believe every US company can play a part in creating pathways to employment for low-income and disconnected youth. The Council has identified three key ways for companies to help connect youth to a better future while simultaneously deriving benefits for their businesses, such as increased employee engagement, customer loyalty and employee retention.

  • Life Skills Development: Provide youth work-related soft skills, such as communication, time management and teamwork, through coursework and/or experience. For example, your company could offer resume writing or interview workshops or provide employee mentors.
    • Example of Employer Program: AT&T, Bank of America, Bloomingdale’s, Comcast, Deloitte have all accepted the Corporate Mentoring Challenge to either start or expand an existing mentoring program within their organization, or help a local mentoring organization expand their capacity and efficiency.
  • Work Skills Development: Provide youth insight into the world of work to prepare for employment. For example, businesses can host job shadow days.
    • Example of Employer Program: Southwire (manufacturer of cables and wires) has employees work with the Carroll County Schools as mentors for young students and allows students to combine their studies with on-the-job training in its wire manufacturing plant.
  • Learn and Earn Opportunities: Provide youth on-the-job skills in a learning environment while earning wages for their work. For example, businesses can offer paid internships, and/or offer permanent positions that provide on-the-job training. Business can also partner with schools and higher education institutions to give youth the opportunity both to strengthen their academic skills while working as well as to connect learning to the context of work.
    • Example of Employer Program: CVS Caremark partners with WorkSource Partners to source, train, and hire entry-level workers. The program helps untapped talent enter the industry and progress along the career path by offering innovative training, career mentoring and education support. Since program inception, the company has doubled its retention rate and has generated a 179 percent return on investment (return relative to costs on Work Opportunity Tax Credit). Additional benefits of lower turnover and higher consumer satisfaction generated by the training were also noted.

Tools for Employer Success

To support companies in developing youth engagement programs, the Council developed a Youth Employment Toolkit. The toolkit provides information on how businesses can create clear, community-supported, mutually beneficial pathways to employment for low-income and disconnected youth. Complete with case studies of best practices, the toolkit guides businesses down one of the three pathways that best matches the company’s assets and readiness to provide youth the skills they need for employment and adulthood. Conveniently available in print and online, the toolkit will walk businesses through four key stages to identify and define a successful program.

  1. Assess and Select: Employers take an assessment survey which guides them to select one of three engagement models (Life Skills, Work Skills or Learn & Earn).
  2. Define Scope: Employers walk through an exercise to define the scope of their company’s model.
  3. Plan and Pilot: Users are guided through a plan to build their company’s pilot program.
  4. Refine and Grow: Employers set up for ongoing program development and refinement.

Research Reports

Authored by researchers at the City University of New York and Columbia University on behalf of the Council and funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The Economic Value of Opportunity Youth describes the number of youth ages 16-24 who are out of school and work, highlights interesting disaggregated data about them, calculates the immediate and lifetime economic cost to the taxpayer and society of failing to reconnect them (and what could be gained by doing so), and provides some ideas for paths to re-engage them.

Hart research conducted a nationwide survey of disconnected youth for Civic Enterprises and America’s Promise. The survey was fielded collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, James Irvine Foundation & Annie E. Casey Foundation and in partnership with Forum for Youth Investment, Jobs for the Future, and YouthBuild USA. The following report, Opportunity Road: The Promise and Challenge of America’s Forgotten Youth, combines the findings of this national survey of disconnected youth (building on the Council’s youth listening sessions), existing research on this population, uplifting case studies of individuals who were disconnected and institutions that have had success in reconnecting them to school and work, and a comprehensive policy and practice agenda that can further our conversation about what all sectors can do to help re-engage these youth. The report begins with an Open Letter to the American People from Colin and Alma Powell.

Council Meeting Materials

June 2011 Council Meeting PowerPoint Presentations:

Council Final Report and Recommendations

On June 4, 2012 the Council presented its Final Report and Recommendations to the President.

During the White House Summit on Community Solutions for Disconnected Youth on June 4, 2012, Council members and leaders from a range of local and national non-profit, philanthropic, business, government, and national service organizations gathered to discuss the recommendations and learn about innovative community-wide initiatives connecting young people with critical education and employment opportunities.

Materials from the February 4, 2011 Council Meeting

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