JPMorgan Chase & Co. has committed $1.3 million to help Houston area’s disconnected youth – which includes more than 111,000 local young people aged 16 to 24 who are not employed or enrolled in school – access the education and skills they need to succeed.
Educate Texas at Communities Foundation of Texas is leading the innovative Bridge to College and Career Success pilot initiative with national partner Jobs For the Future (JFF) as the technical assistance provider. The initiative will re-engage disconnected youth into local, high growth career pathways such as healthcare, advanced manufacturing and construction. The partnerships will guide youth and young adults as they prepare for workforce training and community college, monitor their progress and provide additional necessary support so they are able to graduate.
The effort also got a $250,000 commitment from the Trellis Foundation, which has helped Texas students and families pursue their educational and career dreams for 40 years.
“This generous investment will help provide a future to many young Houstonians who work hard, despite life’s many challenges, by giving them the guidance and support they need to complete their education and discover meaningful career opportunities,” said Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis.
The success of these disconnected young people is critical to Houston’s economic growth. The cost of inaction to support this population could be as much as $30 billion.
“This is a moral and economic crisis. Without the right skills or education, young people are stuck in low-skills, low-wage jobs or unemployed and employers lack the skilled workers they need to support Houston’s economy. Here in Houston, we’re investing in high-quality, career-focused education programs so that more young people have a real shot at a better life for themselves and their families,” said Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co.
There are an estimated 480,000 disconnected youth across Texas, with almost one in four living in the Gulf Coast region.
According to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, more than half of all jobs in Houston require some education beyond high school.
Helping Houston’s disconnected youth overcome barriers such as poverty and parenting responsibilities requires a variety of innovative approaches. Each of the four partnerships supported by these investments designed creative and youth-centered solutions to help young adults make their way back to education and employment in Houston’s growing industries. The four partnerships include:
- Capital IDEA, in partnership with Houston Community College Southeast, developed the “Career My Way” program, which emphasizes self-discovery, career exploration and academic preparation in the following employment sectors: Healthcare, Advanced Manufacturing, Commercial and Industrial Construction, Ports and Maritime, among others.
- Project GRAD, in partnership with the Houston Community College System, is introducing “GRADcafé on the GO”, a mobile advising center that helps Houstonians get into and complete college and career training, focusing on neighborhoods with high concentrations of disconnected youth.
- SERJobs, with its employer partners Gutier Construction and Marek Bros., is serving as the “employer of record” for paid internships and work-based learning; employers are involved in curriculum design, ongoing mentorship and leadership development.
- Baylor Teen Health Clinic, in partnership with Baylor College of Medicine, established the Ascend Program to help meet the high demand for middle-skill employees at the Texas Medical Center by recruiting and training young adults who come to the clinics for health services. This initiative will greatly expand that effort to place these young people in entry- and middle-skills jobs with the promise of career advancement.
This article originally appeared in the Houston Forward Times.