"It’s a win for the urban communities, it’s a win for students, and a win for our company. We would not be doing this unless these students were active contributors as employees, and they more than pull their weight."


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An enormous, untapped talent pool for forward-thinking employers

"5.8 million young people ages 18-24 are neither in school nor in jobs that earn a living wage. They are America’s opportunity youth: resilient, diverse and motivated." [1]

Employment pathways connect employers to partners to prepare them to become loyal employees with skills that match your needs.

How will your company build a reliable pipeline of work-ready hires? The Employment Pathways Project assists businesses and organizations to engage and discover the benefits of working with opportunity youth. We help you select and customize successful training and recruitment models. We connect you to local partners and opportunities, plan conferences and provide speakers, and build overall capacity in the field. We serve as the information and services hub for a new movement to build bridges between employers and young people that will grow businesses and launch lives. The Employment Pathways Project is here to help the private sector lead the development of our future workforce.

Two Problems

3.4 million jobs openings are unfilled due to a shortage of skilled, suitable employees[2]

5.8 million young people lack access to jobs in which they can build a future.[1]

One Solution

Employment Pathways


The Problem

“The number of kids dropping out from the local high schools is a problem for the kids, for the community, and for Southwire.”


"The number of kids dropping out from the local high schools is a problem for the kids, for the community, and for Southwire."

-Mike Wiggins, VP of Human Resources, Southwire, Georgia

Two-thirds of employers report difficulty in filling jobs. [5]

88% say that their success depends on finding and hiring the right employees. [6]

U.S. businesses spend $485 billion each year to educate and train employees[3]

The skills gap is greatest at entry-level positions despite a large population of motivated job seekers. Unfilled jobs limit the growth of U.S. businesses. The problem doesn’t stop there. Barriers of education, preparation, and perception create an opportunity divide for 1 in 5 young Americans. As the labor market increasingly favors skilled workers, the increased social costs and lost revenues of not closing the opportunity divide are estimated to cost U.S. taxpayers $6.4 trillion each year. [4]

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The Solution


"State Street’s partnership with Year Up has become an integral component of our strategic plan to grow a pipeline of future IT employees. Year Up’s program brings enormous value to its corporate partners and has a measurable impact on the lives of young adults."

-Joseph Antonellis, vice chairman, State Street Corporation

Employment pathways are best practices and models for talent recruitment that have been shown to create enduring value as well as measurable social impact. Successful models have been established in health care, retail, financial services, technology, and manufacturing.

Employment pathways produce a workforce with 21st and professional skills. When set on a path toward success, opportunity youth, bring along their resilience, diversity, and loyalty—the qualities that build businesses.

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The Innovators

You have a talent problem.
These companies have found a solution.

Employment pathways enable these employers and community partners to customize and implement programs to create pipelines of skilled and professional entry-level employees. Network leaders are bringing together the private, nonprofit and public sectors to close the skills gap and open the door to opportunity for a historically overlooked yet highly motivated population of young Americans. Collaborative action is producing system-changing solutions with measurable, enduring value.


These leaders are among many businesses that have created successful programs to fill skilled job openings. As a result, they have seen lower turnover and more diversity in their workforce, as well as increased community engagement.

  • Accenture
  • Bank of America
  • Baxter International Inc.
  • CVS Caremark
  • Expeditors
  • Fidelity Investments
  • Ford Motor Company Fund
  • Gap Inc.
  • H-E-B Grocery Company
  • IBM
  • JPMorgan Chase
  • Pacific Gas & Electric Company
  • Southwire Company
  • TJX Companies, Inc.
  • UBS

Community partners

Capable, effective community partners are ready to help you design a program that fits your needs and company culture, train screened candidates, and provide continuing support as they enter your workforce.

  • 12 for Life
  • Citizen Schools
  • Cristo Rey Network
  • Genesys Works
  • JPMorgan Chase’s New Skills at Work
  • LeadersUp
  • Per Scholas
  • P-TECH
  • Stepping Up
  • NPower

Network leaders

These thought leaders and consultants are building a national movement to remove barriers to employment for all young Americans. They provide expertise, research, and support to businesses, policy makers, and educators on proven models and best practices.

  • America Forward
  • Aspen Forum for Community Solutions
  • Aspen Institute’s Ascend Project
  • Clinton Global Initiative
  • Innovate+Educate
  • MENTOR: National Mentoring Partnership
  • New Options Project
  • Opportunity Nation
  • Opportunity Youth Network
  • Public Private Possibilities
  • Year Up

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We stand at the center of a community of practice in the field of opportunity youth training and recruitment. Our expertise in successful models and network of innovators enables us to be a resource and partner to organizations exploring options to build bridges between young people and employment. We fuel the growing momentum to tap into the talent pool of opportunity youth through events, information, and engagement tools. Contact us to learn more about what we can do for you.




1. Opportunity Nation's Opportunity Index 2013: http://opportunityindex.org/#4.00/40.00/-97.00/

2. 2012 Talent Shortage Survey Research results, http://www.manpowergroup.us/campaigns/talent-shortage-2012/pdf/2012_Talent_Shortage_Survey_Results_US_FINALFINAL.pdf

3. Carnevale, Smith and Strohl, "Help Wanted." http://www9.georgetown.edu/grad/gppi/hpi/cew/pdfs/FullReport.pdf

4. Belfield, Levin, and Rosen "The Economic Value of Opportunity Youth"

5. Manyika, James, et al. “An Economy that Works: Job Creation and America’s Future.” McKinsey & Company, 2011. http://www. mckinsey.com/insights/mgi/research/labor_markets/an_economy_that_works_for_us_job_creation.

6. Maddock, Douglas. “NOP Employer Movement Research,” PowerPoint presentation, December 2012.

Funding Partners


We gratefully acknowledge our supporters.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation

The Rockefeller Foundation

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation

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