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:

Youth-Centered Research
Report Covers

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.

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Community Activation
ART Virtual

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.

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Youth Stories
Voice of young people

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.  


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aciton round table

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:

  • Central Georgia Technical College Foundation 

    Central Georgia Technical College is a two-year public college and a Predominantly Black Institution in central Georgia. Through this grant, the CGTCF—a nonprofit organization that supports the college’s mission and students—will engage young people participating in the CGTC REACH program, which is a student organization established to promote the success of underserved populations, primarily young men of color, in postsecondary education and the workplace. The CGTCF will work with small to mid-size employer partners in high-growth industries in the region that have expressed an interest in and commitment to diversity and inclusion. These employers—the City of Milledgeville, Spherion Staffing and Recruiting, and Georgia Artisan Furnishings—have also committed to supporting REACH student representatives in job shadowing and other immersive workplace learning activities.  

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  • Greater Stark County Urban League

    GSCUL works to help African Americans and others in underserved communities achieve social parity, economic self-reliance, power, and civil rights. GSCUL will engage a diverse and committed group of employer partners—Aultman Health Foundation, Akron-Canton Airport, and Kenan Advantage Group—who aim to be role models for peer employers who want to improve their work environments. Once the Action Roundtable project is complete, GSCUL plans to leverage existing infrastructure provided through the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce to share the lessons learned from these roundtables and investigate how the recommendations might be able to influence employers throughout the region.

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  • Kalamazoo Youth Development Network

    KYD is the intermediary organization for the out-of-school time sector in southwest Michigan. For this project, KYD will partner with the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Services Agency (KRESA), an intermediate school district providing career exploration programming to K-12+ students as well as internships, apprenticeships, and other work-based learning experiences for young people and adult job seekers. Both KYD and KRESA have begun to implement the Critical Youth Development framework to engage youth, young adults, and adults in the process of understanding their racialized identities, creating belonging in multi-racial contexts, and strengthening agency to dismantle oppressive systems to realize a more equitable future. KYD and KRESA will bring a similar approach to this work with their employer partners: Landscape Forms and Duncan Aviation. 

    Learn more
  • The Pittsburgh Promise

    TPP is a hybrid educational and workforce development organization working to promote high educational aspirations among urban youth, fund scholarships for postsecondary access, and fuel a prepared and diverse regional workforce. Since 2008, the organization has awarded more than $150 million in postsecondary scholarships to more than 10,000 students. For this Project, TPP will partner with UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center), The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., and Thermo Fisher Scientific—three large employer partners who have already made an investment of $1 million or more in The Promise scholarship fund, providing postsecondary scholarships; internships; and, in some cases, full-time careers to students.

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  • Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative

    TCCC works to build collective power to transform education by changing systems that allow Black and brown children to achieve their goals. As a regional intermediary organization, TCCC aligns community resources, removes barriers, and promotes collaborative efforts to build a regional culture where everyone has access to the supports and resources they need to obtain a high quality education, secure a good job, and live a quality life. TCCC’s theory of action ensures all work in the community, including their work on the Action Roundtable project, is informed by the voices of those who are the most affected by programs, systems, policies and/or practices.  As a close partner of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, TCCC will work with the technology solutions firm, eGroup, and other employer partners involved with the Chamber’s Career Academy program. 

    Learn more

Latest News

Cultivating An Inclusive Workplace: Why Embracing Identity Matters
This is the fourth piece in a four-part series exploring how race and identity affect feelings of belonging at work, and how employers can respond and support their diverse workforce.
White “Professionalism” Limits Diverse Employees’ Belonging
This is the third piece in a four-part series exploring how race and identity affect feelings of belonging at work, and how employers can respond and support their diverse workforce.
Why You Should Address Workplace Classism—Now
This is the second piece in a four-part series exploring how race and identity affect feelings of belonging at work, and how employers can respond and support their diverse workforce.
Allowing Employees To Be Their Authentic Selves: A Business Imperative
This is the first piece in a four-part series exploring how race and identity affect feelings of belonging at work.
New National Data Show Toll of COVID-19, Discrimination on Youth Employment and Wellbeing
Two-thirds of young people say the pandemic has adversely affected their work life, with stark differences by race and gender.
Employers, Do Your Part: Practical Steps toward Anti-Racism
At 21, I landed a fellowship that I thought would change my life. It was a small group of us.

Latest Resources

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The State of Youth Employment
Check out results from our latest quantitative study, exploring how young people are navigating the world of work during this challenging time, how the COVID-19 pandemic has shaped their work experiences, the role of racism and discrimination in young people’s career trajectories, and…
Finding A Way Forward: Young People's Experiences Navigating the World of Work
How do young people become ready for, connected to, and supported in the world of work? New qualitative research from the YES Project and the Center for Promise yields important and timely insights from young people themselves.


The YES Project is possible thanks to the generous support of AT&T, Carnegie Corporation of New York and State Farm.

ATT + C+ state farms

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