Give STL Day Spotlight: STL Youth Jobs
By Ranen Miao
Community Investment Intern
Young people from 16-24 are the most likely members of our society to be unemployed. With COVID-19 exacerbating the economic stress for our most marginalized neighbors, STL Youth Jobs is doing the work of bridging the divide between our region’s youth and the growing skills gap in the workforce. Since 2013, STL Youth Jobs has connected over 4,500 youth, aged 16-24, in 65 under-served neighborhoods with local employers and prepared them for future success by providing mentorship and training for job readiness and financial literacy.
“The 65 neighborhoods in our service-area footprint all have high rates of crime, low employment rates, and low household incomes. Additionally, an average of 95% of our youth annually identifies as Black,” explained Camille Hogan, the Marketing and Development Manager of STL Youth Jobs. Consequently, working in the front lines has made the divide between under-served youth seeking opportunity and businesses seeking a skilled labor force apparent, a divide STL Youth Jobs works to close. As Hogan remarked, “this divide is at the root of our community’s biggest challenges but is also our greatest opportunity to successfully create a confluence of job-ready youth through all of our programming who are received by an inclusive workforce.”
With the onset of COVID-19, physical distancing requirements, and public health guidelines, STL Youth Jobs swiftly transitioned their in-person, summer jobs program to an online training platform for youth to learn essential job readiness skills and financial literacy knowledge from their homes. They have also connected 50 youth from the Career Accelerator Program with 2-week remote micro-internships with local companies, placed 50 youth from the Online Workforce Academy program in socially-distant, in-person work for a month, and continued to serve 550 youth in the 65 neighborhoods they work in.
These added costs have forced the organization to undergo budget cuts and made Give STL Day so much more valuable. “STL Youth Jobs participates in Give STL Day to engage in the community by raising awareness of our organization and impact,” Hogan told us. “The Give STL Day community allows us to engage with the community on a new level and form deeper relationships with individuals.”
This year, STL Youth Jobs raised over $15,000 – an over seven-fold increase from 2019. With this new funding, they will work towards their goal to expand their service footprint to serve more youth, and to increase partnerships with local organizations who provide job coaching support. By expanding partnerships, STL Youth Jobs will be able to offer more niche-programs for youth with specific needs, create a pipeline of high school aged youth to the workforce, and use online platforms to disburse job readiness training and information.
“St. Louis is a community-led region where people care for one another and have pride in their hometown. True to Midwest culture, the people of St. Louis are hospitable and sincere in their kindness for others,” Hogan praised. “We are proud to be part of this wonderful St. Louis community!”