Barack Obama's White House Council for Community Solutions, of which the David Bohnett Foundation’s Michael Fleming is a member, is helping the President encourage businesses of every size, nonprofits and government to hire at least 250,000 low-income and disconnected teenagers this summer as part of an innovative new public-private partnership initiative, Summer Jobs+.
Recognizing that in a difficult economy not every business is in a position to hire, the administration's new program will support not only businesses that hire youth but also those companies that provide additional pathways to success, such as internships, mentoring and other programs. Businesses can accept the president's challenge and make a “Pathways Pledge” by choosing at least one of three pathways to employment: Life Skills, Work Skills and Learn and Earn. Within the next 60 days, the administration will also launch the Summer Jobs+ Bank, a one-stop search tool for youth to access participating employers’ job postings.
The council participated on an expert White House panel that explored the moral imperative, economic need and potential value of connecting youth to employment opportunities in the short and long term. The administration has already secured commitments from such companies as AT&T, Bank of America and CVS/Caremark to hire 180,000 youth this summer.
In November 2011, average teen unemployment (ages 16 to 19) in the U.S. was 23.7 percent. California had the second highest rate in the country at 34.6 percent. Fleming says that if the private sector pitches in to help lower teen unemployment, it could help boost the nation’s overall economic situation.
“This is a call to action,” Fleming said. “Business and government must work together to provide pathways to success for youth. The Summer Jobs+ initiative identifies specific ways for a company to connect young people to a better future while at the same time boosting its customer loyalty and employee engagement and retention. Through this public-private partnership we can find solutions that will enable young people to succeed, help employers find skilled talent and strengthen our nation's economic prosperity.”