Employment and Jobs

The Benefits of Bridging Divides: How YouthBuild Philly Shares its Supportive Practices to Build Business Value and Better Jobs

January 28, 2020  • Amanda Newman & Jenny Weissbourd

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Many workforce development organizations have expertise in supportive strategies that help people succeed at work. By learning how to translate these practices to their business partners, workforce organizations can provide greater value to employers – helping improve their management practices, reduce turnover costs, and create better jobs.

This profile documents how YouthBuild Philly partners with retail businesses like Gap Inc. and Brown’s Superstores Inc. — ShopRite! to shape the workplace experiences of the young people the organization serves. YouthBuild Philly translates its internal culture of respect and belonging into training and capacity-building services for front-line retail supervisors. Businesses report that the supportive practices supervisors learn are useful for improving engagement and retention across their entire workforce.

Our profile highlights three key practices YouthBuild Philly uses that other organizations can adopt to engage retail businesses and strengthen equity, inclusion, and retention:

  • Identifying “good-fit” business partnerships that set young people up for success
  • Strengthening front-line management through coaching and feedback
  • Providing customized training to help business partners institutionalize supportive culture and management

Reimagine Retail, an initiative of the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program funded by the Walmart Foundation, has explored ways to enhance job quality and improve mobility for the retail workforce. In Philadelphia, we partnered with five workforce organizations – Philadelphia Youth Network, the Job Opportunity Investment Network, JEVS Human Services, YouthBuild Philadelphia, and District 1199C Training and Upgrading Fund – focused on connecting youth and young adults to employment.

This report is part of a series on promising workforce strategies from across the Reimagine Retail network. We’re excited to share valuable lessons from work on the ground by local Reimagine Retail partners across the country.



.@YouthBuildPHL shows what it takes to #ReimagineRetail: translate a culture of respect and belonging into supportive practices for front-line workers.

How does @YouthBuildPHL engage retail businesses to support and retain young workers? This profile by @AspenWorkforce highlights key practices.

Workforce organizations (like @YouthBuildPHL) can go beyond training and placement by helping businesses create better jobs and advance equity.

Structural inequality leads to racial disparities in outcomes, such as access to employment for young adults. Learn how @YouthBuildPHL is embedding equity in all aspects of its work.

Working with partners like @GapInc and Brown’s ShopRite, @YouthBuildPHL translates its culture of respect and belonging into training and capacity-building services for front-line supervisors.

Many businesses struggle to develop and retain young workers. Supportive strategies can help them succeed and advance in their careers, while reducing turnover.


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