Half million dollar donation to create work for 320 youth
The White House Council for Community Solutions’ recent report — “Community Solutions for Opportunity Youth” — confirmed a sad reality: The unemployment rate of young Americans is at an all-time high.
Luckily for Philadelphians, Wal-Mart and the Philadelphia Youth Network have teamed up to do something about it.
Wal-Mart, through its Wal-Mart Foundation, recently donated $500,000 to the youth-based non-profit, which will fund 320 summer jobs for at-risk, low-income and out-of-school youth. The grant will also help those youth that are extremely at-risk: ones that are homeless, fostered, abused or adjudicated. Wal-Mart’s benevolence fits in well with PYN’s mission of delivering youth programs that will improve their social and economic footing, and will go a long way toward buttressing PYN’s other workforce programs, such its WorkReady internship.
The WorkReady Summer Program runs from July 2 through August 10, and has established a website, www.SaveSummerJobs.org, to encourage local businesses and individuals to support youth employment.
“We are grateful to the Wal-Mart Foundation for their investment in Philadelphia’s youth. This infusion of dollars, coupled with local funding, has helped Philadelphia to bring the number of WorkReady summer youth employment opportunities form a projected low of 4,800 to over 5,600,” said Philadelphia Youth Network President and CEO Stacy E. Holland. “Just as importantly, the Wal-Mart Foundation dollars are enabling WorkReady to pilot an expanded summer program for a critical population.
“Research conducted through this project will shed light on the best practices that can be incorporated into future WorkReady programming.”
According to data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2010, 28.2 percent of African-Americans aged 18 to 24 nationwide were unemployed, while 20.1 percent of Hispanics of the same age group were jobless. Both rates were much higher than the 9.4 percent of all American workers who were unemployed two years ago.
Those numbers look just as bleak this year, as former United States Department of Labor Chief of Staff Paul T. Conway stated in May that young Americans are dissuaded by the 8.2 percent unemployment rate.
And Philadelphia won’t be the only city to benefit from Wal-Mart’s three-pronged, $20 million philanthropic endeavor. Phoenix, New York, Hartford, CT, Chicago, Detroit and Los Angeles will also receive grants similar to PYN.
“Summer is a critical time for the continued health and development of our nation’s youth,” said Wal-Mart Foundation President Sylvia Mathews Burwell. “We know that providing access to job opportunities and skills training during the summer months will allow students to return to school healthy, prepared and ready to succeed. By working closely with Philadelphia Youth Network, we can help kids have better summers and ultimately, better lives.”
White House Council for Community Solutions Chairwoman Patricia Stonesifer appears to agree with Burwell’s sentiment.
“We know that with training and support, opportunity youth hold enormous promise to infuse our economy with new skills and leadership, and they are eager to accept responsibility in their lives,” Stonesifer wrote in a letter that accompanied the report. “The council believes…a nationwide awareness of this issue will lead to significant progress toward putting all our young people on a path to prosperity.”