100,000 Opportunities Initiative Kicks Off as Companies Expected to Make Hundreds of Immediate Job Offers to Chicagoland Youth

August 5, 2015

Contact: Monique Miles 
Aspen Forum for Community Solutions
202.736.2296 | Monique.Miles@aspeninstitute.org

100,000 Opportunities Initiative Kicks Off as Companies Expected to Make
Hundreds of Immediate Job Offers to Chicagoland Youth

Three-Year Commitment to Hiring 100,000 Opportunity Youth Begins on Aug. 13 in Chicago, and Will
Serve as the Model for Future Cities of Impact

CHICAGO, IL – Aug. 4, 2015 – The 100,000 Opportunities Initiative, a national coalition of leading US-based companies launched in July 2015 by the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions, Starbucks, and the Schultz Family Foundation in collaboration with corporate and philanthropic partners, today welcomed additional partners – including Chipotle Mexican Grill, Domino’s, FedEx, Hyatt, Mars, Nordstrom, Pizza Hut, Prudential, Red Robin, Sweetgreen, and T-Mobile – to the collective effort to form the nation’s largest employer-led coalition committed to creating pathways to meaningful employment for America’s young people. 

The national initiative, which now includes 29 companies spanning various industries, will collectively hire and engage at least 100,000 Opportunity Youth – 16 to 24 year olds who face systemic barriers to jobs and education – by 2018 through apprenticeships, internships, training programs, and both part-time and full-time jobs. The coalition will work with community-based organizations and civic leaders to help deliver the local skills training and hiring opportunities young people need, ensuring that this truly cross-sector effort is sustained in the long-term.   

The Aspen Forum for Community Solutions will act as an intermediary for the initiative in the hiring cities, building upon the existing work of its national Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund (OYIF). The OYIF currently supports collaborative efforts focused on reconnecting Opportunity Youth in 21 communities around the country to pathways to education and employment. The Aspen Institute will provide direct leadership, technical assistance, and programmatic support to launch the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative in Chicago and future cities. 

“This initiative is an extraordinary opportunity for employers to play a central role designing and scaling the pathways that Opportunity Youth need to build skills, attain credentials, and secure employment leading to careers with family sustaining wages,” said Melody C. Barnes, former director of the White House Domestic Policy Council and Chair of the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions. “Employers, community stakeholders and youth are working across sectors to grow our nation’s talent pipeline and move low-income young people and their families out of poverty.”

“We are seeing an unparalleled commitment on the part of employers to support the population of young people who have all too often been marginalized in our economy and shut out of access to opportunities for meaningful employment and careers,” said Steve Patrick, Executive Director of the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions. “We are looking forward to working together with this coalition to achieve long-lasting impact on the lives of young people, their families, and our communities.”

“Through this unprecedented partnership with the private and public sector, we will further accelerate our collective hiring efforts over the next three years,” said Blair Taylor, Starbucks chief community officer and representative of the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative. “Chicago represents an important city for this launch. While there are more than 200,000 Opportunity Youth in Chicago alone, there is also an incredibly vibrant system of civic leaders, nonprofit organizations, businesses and elected officials who share a commitment to bridging this opportunity divide. And, I am confident that our collective impact in Chicago will serve as the blueprint for communities across the country for years to come.” 

Chicago Opportunity Fair & Forum
The official launch of the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative will take place on Thursday, Aug. 13 in Chicago where the participating companies, in collaboration with the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership and 28 community-based organizations, expect to collectively engage more than 3,000 pre-registered youth and make hundreds of on-the-spot job offers, delivering immediate impact for their businesses, the Chicago community and many young jobseekers. The day will begin with an Opportunity Fair, which will feature informative and interactive experiences for youth including workshops, on-the-spot mentoring and feedback, college counseling, skill development, and entertaining events and activities. Participating companies expect to hire thousands of youth in the Chicago area over the next 18 months, delivering an unprecedented impact to the young people and businesses in Chicagoland. 

“A job is the first step for many toward a responsible life, and we are energized by the commitment of these companies to engage and hire so many young people in our region who are looking to take this significant step,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “I commend the companies who are participating in this initiative, as our young people represent an unrealized pipeline of talent and an engine of economic growth for our communities.”

Following the Opportunity Fair, an inspirational Opportunity Forum will be hosted by Academy and Grammy Award winning performing artist Common, who will lead an open discussion with more than 3,000 young people and their support networks focused on economic opportunity in America. Joining Common on stage will be special guests, local “heroes,” young people, entertainers and speakers. The event is a ticketed event for pre-registered young people and their support networks. 

The following member companies have joined the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative, and many will be represented at the first Opportunity Fair & Forum in Chicago:

Alaska Airlines
CVS Health*
Hilton Worldwide*
JP Morgan Chase*
Pizza Hut*
Potbelly Sandwich Shop* 
Red Robin*
Taco Bell* 

*Denotes attendance at Chicago Opportunity Fair & Forum, many of which will be seeking new hires 

More than 35 community based organizations, government agencies, and other stakeholders have joined together to participate in the Chicago Opportunity Fair & Forum with the objective of connecting Opportunity Youth to services, workshops, and employment opportunities. 

Highlights include:

  • Twelve different organizations will host workshops on rotating topics, including the Chicago Urban League who will help young people craft a great resume and provide tips for how to make an application stand out when applying online and the College Advising Corps, who will advise young people on how to choose a college pathway that is right for them and how to finance their college choice.  
  • More than 10 workforce development and youth support agencies, including Youth Guidance, Goodwill, YearUp, and Employment & Employer Services, will be available for youth to get connected to support, training, and job placement services. Attendees will also be able to connect to national service opportunities through organizations, including Public Allies and City Year, will be recruiting youth to join paid programs where they can build skills while giving back to their communities and schools.
  • LinkedIn will be onsite to help attendees create and improve their online professional profiles and networks. 
  • Youth will have also have opportunities through Get Schooled, Road Trip Nation, and the Young Chicago Authors to find new and creative ways to express themselves.
  • Participants will also be able to get reconnected to the Chicago Public School system through the SOAR program, access crucial personal documentation through the Secretary of State, and even discover all the resources available through the Chicago Public Library.  

The following is the complete list of community based organizations, government agencies, and other organizations that will have a presence at the fair, in addition to the more than 200 agencies that are helping to recruit youth to attend the event and interview for jobs:  

  • All-Stars Project
  • Arizona State University
  • Beyond Z
  • Boys and Girls Club of Chicago
  • Business and Career Services, Inc.
  • Chicago City of Learning
  • Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership
  • Chicago Public Libraries
  • Chicago Public Schools
  • Chicago Urban League
  • Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance
  • City Colleges of Chicago
  • City Year
  • College Advising Corps
  • College Greenlight
  • Department of Family & Support Services
  • Economic Awareness Council
  • Employment & Employer Services
  • Get Schooled
  • Goodwill
  • Illinois Mentoring Network
  • Indigo
  • La Casa Norte
  • LeadersUp
  • LinkedIn
  • Metropolitan Family Services
  • National Council of Young Leaders/Opportunity Youth United
  • One Goal
  • One Million Degrees
  • One Summer Chicago
  • Public Allies
  • Road Trip Nation
  • Secretary of State 
  • Central States SER
  • Service Nation
  • Teach for America
  • Thrive Chicago
  • UIC
  • Year Up
  • Young Chicago Authors 
  • Youth Guidance
  • YouthBuild USA

For more than ten years, Sheri Schultz, cofounder of the Schultz Family Foundation, which is a key supporter of the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative, has been working with community based organizations to develop job training programs for youth and young adults.  “Like all of us, these young people need clear pathways to employment so they can acquire the skills and support to be work ready.  We know that this is a complex issue and we need all of our collective horsepower to solve it. For too long, it’s been the nonprofit and public sectors tackling this issue, without meaningful involvement from the private sector. Closing the opportunity divide requires bold leadership and innovation across all sectors.”

Funders participating in the initiative include:

Accenture (in kind)
Joyce Foundation
JPMorgan Chase Foundation
MacArthur Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation
Schultz Family Foundation
Walmart Foundation 
W.K. Kellogg Foundation

For more leader quotes from members of the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative, including Alaska Airlines, Cintas, CVS Health, Hilton Worldwide, HMSHost, JCPenney, JPMorgan Chase, Lyft, Macy’s, Microsoft, Porch.com, Potbelly Sandwich Shop, Starbucks, Taco Bell, Target, Teavana, Walgreens and Walmart, visit: www.100kOpportunities.org. 

Media Registration
Media interested in attending the event must pre-register for credentials by contacting media@100kOpportunities.org.  

About the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative
The 100,000 Opportunities Initiative has the goal of creating the nation’s largest employer-led private sector coalition committed to creating pathways to employment for young people. Companies engaged in the coalition will help to launch careers for young people that are just entering the workforce, including internships, apprenticeships and on the job training, in addition to developing potential in youth that have some work experience but are looking to gain new skills that lead to a successful career.  The participating companies are committed to diversity and equal employment opportunity, and the Opportunity Initiative does not prevent opportunities for older workers.  Its purpose is to open up new opportunities that currently do not exist for some youth.  For more information, please visit www.100kOpportunities.org.  

About the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions and the Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund
The Aspen Institute’s Forum for Community Solutions and Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund build on the work and recommendations of the White House Council for Community Solutions. The mission of the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions is to support community collaboration – including collective impact – that enables communities to effectively address their most pressing challenges.  The Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund (OYIF) is the first funding collaborative launched by the Aspen Forum. By focusing on the development of educational and career pathways for Opportunity Youth, the OYIF seeks to interrupt the multi-generational cycle of poverty that undermines the vibrancy and economic health of communities. The Forum is chaired by Melody C. Barnes, former director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, and run by Executive Director Steve Patrick. For more information, visit: www.AspenCommunitySolutions.org.  

About the Aspen Institute
The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, D.C.; Aspen, CO; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org. 


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