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Video: See How This ‘Guidance Company’ Changes the Lives of Chicago’s Youth

Genesys Works provides young people in Chicago with job training, yearlong paid internships, and a shot at a different life.

This story is part of a series highlighting 2016 Youth Opportunity Fund community partners. Led by the Citi Foundation and America’s Promise Alliance, the Fund – now in its second year – supports innovative, scalable programs that place low-income youth on a path to college and career success. To date, the Fund has provided $6 million to support 24 organizations, reaching more than 7,000 youth.

Genesys Works has a single but important goal: help young people from low-income backgrounds graduate high school with the skills and opportunities they need to succeed in college and the 21st century workforce.

With locations in California, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Minnesota, and Texas, the nonprofit provides high school seniors with job training, paid internships, and mentors who provide support during and after the program.

Overall, 94 percent of Genesys Works alumni enroll in college, and 71 percent have already graduated from college or are still enrolled. The Genesys Works site in Chicago, where high youth unemployment rates have hit young black men particularly hard, recently received a 2016 Youth Opportunity Fund grant to expand its programming and reach more young people.

Take a look at how the program works below:

 

The summer before senior year, Genesys Works provides students with eight weeks of job training. The training includes both technical skills in information technology and business operations, along with professional skills like business etiquette and time management.

After Genesys Works students complete their eight weeks of training, the program matches them with paid, year-long internships working 20 hours a week. Past internship placements in Chicago include AT&T, Accenture, the Chicago Cubs, Salesforce, and more.

In addition to this internship, students receive more than 60 hours of guidance from Genesys Works Program Coordinators on college-readiness topics like college applications and financial aid.

Once students finish their internships and graduate high school, Genesys Works continues to offer hands-on support to their “alumni,” helping students deal with the academic, social, and financial troubles that may come up in college.

Here’s what 19-year-old Anthony Branchhad to say about his experience in 2014:

 

“I would describe Genesys Works as a ‘guidance company,’” Anthony says. “A lot of us, when we got there, we didn’t know what we wanted to do with our life. And they gave us some guidance. They gave us something to work with.”

Genesys Works Development & Communications Director Laura Lukens says Anthony recently graduated from Central State University with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science.

The Youth Opportunity Fund is part of the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative focused on preparing young people to thrive in today’s economy. In 2014, the Citi Foundation made a three-year, $50 million commitment to boost the career readiness of 100,000 low-income youth in 10 cities across the United States.

For more stories about Youth Opportunity Fund grantees, visit our Medium page.