SOYPConversations with Young People: Employment during COVID-19

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the nation’s employment landscape, and young people are at particular risk. They’re often the first to be let go, the last to be hired, and major employers of young people—including the food service and hospitality industries—are significantly impacted by the pandemic. The YES Project has been speaking with young people representing various stages of education and employment to learn firsthand about their job experiences during COVID-19 and their advice for how decision makers can support them at this unprecedented time.

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The current state of youth (un)employment speaks for itself: 1.8 million young Americans (ages 16-24) want to work, are actively searching, yet still can’t find a job.

Beyond these alarming numbers, youth employment matters:

  • It strengthens young people’s confidence and ties to the labor market; 
  • Sets young individuals on a secure and fulfilling career pathway; and
  • Adds a broader pool of talent to the workforce and boosts the economy.

That’s why the YES (Young, Employed, Successful) Project, a national initiative launched by America’s Promise Alliance, was created to support and grow our youth workforce so that every young person seeking a job can find a job.

To tackle this ambitious goal, the YES Project teamed up with nonprofits, researchers, and employers and landed on three conditions for success: ready, connected, and supported (RCS).  The RCS framework is the backbone of the YES Project and serves as a consensus point for everyone– from public officials, community leaders and young people themselves – to drive action towards increasing youth employment.

The YES project is driven by these three activities:


Ready, Connected, Supported Framework
Report Cover


Ready, Connected, and Supported is the guiding force behind the YES Project, uniting all stakeholders behind this shared vision to help young people achieve workplace success and career development.

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Action Round Table 
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Communities across the country are putting the ready, connected, and supported framework into action. Check out what’s happening in these four communities to help young people gain meaningful employment

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Commit today to help young people access career opportunities by expanding their network, giving advice on the job search and interview process, and providing support before, during, and after employment.

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Our Framework

 The “Ready, Connected, Supported” framework is the backbone of the YES Project. The framework provides a shared approach from which everyone from employers and public officials to community leaders and young people themselves is driving action toward increasing youth employment. 

At a glance   Deep Dive



aciton round table Four Opportunity Youth Forum Communities were selected to join the YES Project’s Action Roundtable cohort. Action Roundtables consist of communities working to improve youth employment outcomes by convening diverse stakeholders and moving them towards action. Cohort members contribute to existing youth employment systems, assist with youth job placement, and/or create pathways for youth employment.

To learn more about the Action Roundtables, check as out our key takeaways document below that touches on key themes of the gatherings to enhance collective understanding about what it takes for communities to work together to connect young people to employment opportunities. Below, you'll also find APA's own Fito Akinrade's blog about her experience with each of the communities. These lessons will inform the YES Project’s ongoing work, including its second series of Action Roundtables with new grantees.

  • California
    The Los Angeles Opportunity Youth Collaborative
  • Illinois
    Thrive Chicago
  • Connecticut
    Capital Workforce Partners
  • Arizona
    Ancestral Lands Hopi Program
Action Roundtable Grantees
  • The Los Angeles Opportunity Youth Collaborative

    The Los Angeles Opportunity Youth Collaborative (OYC), a multi-agencies effort to improve education and employment outcomes for transition age youth who are or have been in foster care in Los Angeles.
  • Thrive Chicago

    Thrive Chicago recently created an Opportunity Youth Data and Research Project to pioneer a new model for linking research and practice to help address the issues of disconnected youth.
  • Capital Workforce Partners

    Capital Workforce Partners helps individuals overcome barriers to employment and closes the gap between skills and business hiring needs.
  • Ancestral Lands Hopi Program

    Ancestral Lands Hopi Program (Hopi Reservation in AZ) focuses on the Hopi community’s most at-risk youth between the ages of 14 to 26 who are not actively engaged in school or in the workforce.

Latest News

Resilience Deserves A Chance: Navigating Today’s Job Market As A New College Grad
COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the nation’s employment landscape, and young people are at particular risk.
Sierra W.
5 Ways Employers Can Support Black Employees: A Young Leader’s Advice
I wish employers knew how tired people of color are of hiding their authentic selves. It starts from birth.
Mussab A
Not A Meritocracy: The U.S. and Youth Employment During COVID-19
As we look toward recovery from COVID-19 and what that means for employment, it’s important that we think intentionally about young people – particularly those who are marginalized and underrepresented. Decision-makers should utilize this moment to make our education and employment systems more equitable so that anyone who works hard can succeed.
Working On The Frontlines: A Young Mom’s Reflection
My first job was at Starbucks. I was in transitional living at the time, which is like a second step if you’re in foster care or state custody. I was in a residential group home, and the goal was to eventually be transitioned into an apartment.
Internship Programs Are Filling A Crucial Gap During COVID-19
COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the nation’s employment landscape, and young people are at particular risk.
Struggle And Hope – A College Student Perspective During COVID-19
During these times, loyalty is being put to the test. It’s vital for companies to understand the importance of treating their employees with decency and respect. If they do so, their staff’s loyalty will never waver.

  • The Corporation for Public Broadcasting

    The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) was created by Congress in 1967 to steward our nation’s investment in a public media system that serves all Americans with informational, educational and enriching content. CPB supports more than 1,500 public television and radio stations that play an essential role in education, public safety and civic leadership in communities across America. 

    Building on public broadcasting’s reputation as a trusted media provider and community convener, CPB launched the American Graduate initiative in 2011 to help young people succeed in school, career and life. Today, COVID-19 is complicating their ability to complete high school with the educational experiences and skills they need to pursue higher education or enter an increasingly uncertain workforce. They need support as they navigate educational opportunities and build in-demand skills to start their careers.

    From PBS NewsHour and FRONTLINE to Connecticut Public’s Making the Future to Ohio stations’ Career Path Less Taken, national producers and local public media stations are highlighting challenges students face in graduating high school and pursuing high-demand careers. Other stations such as Idaho Public Television and Vegas PBS highlight local career opportunities, apprenticeship programs, job fairs and provide resources that are valuable to youth and young adults. In addition, Kentucky Educational Television (KET) offers Workplace Essential Skills, an instructional series tailored to meet the hiring requirements for major industries, while a new digital series called Career Hacks, from GBH in Boston, offers tips and advice for navigating careers during COVID-19. 


The YES Project is possible thanks to the generous support of AT&T, Citi Foundation and State Farm.

ATT + citi + state farms

The Steering Commitee for the YES Project can be found here.