COVID-19 has drastically altered young people’s employment trajectories, exacerbating an already fragile youth employment ecosystem—particularly for young people of color. As young people navigate a struggling economy, an ever-changing workforce landscape, and the ongoing realities of racism, sexism, and other forms of economic and social oppression, it is critically important that they feel ready for, connected to, and supported within the world of work.
That’s why the YES (Young, Employed, Successful) Project—a national youth employment initiative launched by America’s Promise Alliance—works toward a world in which every young person seeking a job can find a job—and thrive once they get it.
The YES Project works with young people, community organizations, researchers, employers, and policymakers to drive action through three key strategic areas:
The YES Project’s research goes beyond traditional youth employment data to provide the field with a better understanding of how young people are experiencing and perceiving the world of work. As the nation grapples with economic recovery, addressing systemic oppression, and the changing nature of work, it is crucial to understand the experiences, needs, and goals of young people to ensure that decisions made on young people’s behalf are made based on their own perspectives.
To improve feelings of belonging and inclusion for young employees of color in the workplace, the YES Project launched the 2021 Virtual Action Roundtable series, through which six community grantees have each received $20,000 to partner with local employers and young professionals in their communities to co-design meaningful strategies to improve belonging and inclusion in the workplace for employees of color.
The YES Project is committed to amplifying the voices and experiences of young people as they navigate the world of work amidst a devastating pandemic, ongoing conversations about workplace racism, and a rapidly changing economy. Check out their stories, along with their recommendations for employers.
2021 Virtual Action Roundtable Series:
Race, Identity, and Belonging in the Workplace
The goal of the YES Project is to ensure that every young person seeking a job can find a job—and thrive once they get it. According to America’s Promise’s latest youth-centered research, an important component to thriving on the job is the feeling of truly belonging and the ability to bring one’s full self to work. Young people across the country have indicated that this type of belonging does not happen without direct acknowledgement and appreciation of their unique identities—from their race, to their gender, to their cultural background and more. This type of belonging allows for young professionals to feel seen and appreciated, leading to greater productivity, satisfaction, and retention.
To improve feelings of belonging and inclusion for young employees of color in the workplace, the YES Project at America’s Promise Alliance launched the Virtual Action Roundtable series in summer 2021. Through this project, six community grantees have each received $20,000 to partner with local employers and young professionals in their communities to co-design meaningful strategies to improve belonging and inclusion in the workplace for employees of color. Each participating employer has committed to implement at least one co-designed strategy by the end of the year.
The Virtual Action Roundtable grants reflect a key finding identified in the YES Project’s youth-centered research: that young people view their work and their lives as deeply intertwined. This means that success in the workplace requires a multi-dimensional, whole-person approach that acknowledges and values all aspects of one’s identity. These Action Roundtable conversations will intentionally center the perspectives of young people of color, who are often excluded from employers’ decision-making.
The Virtual Action Roundtables are made possible through the generous financial support of AT&T; the guidance of the YES Project steering committee and alliance members; and insight from corporations, foundations, and individuals who invest their resources and time into the YES Project’s mission.
Below are additional details on each of the six participating communities: