In 2014, Gap Inc. committed to taking on four areas of activity to equip underserved youth with the skills they need to get on pathways to success.
1) This Way Ahead is a job training and internship program that Gap Inc. runs in partnership with Old Navy, Gap, and Banana Republic stores, as well as four nonprofit organizations. The program is currently running in New York City, Boston, San Francisco, and Houston. In the upcoming year, Gap Inc. will expand the program to a fifth city.
2) Gap Inc. and Gap Foundation provide funding that bring workplace skills to 90,000 underserved youth in the United States, through their First Jobs Training program; in the upcoming year, Gap Inc. will expand partnerships with youth-serving nonprofits by brokering relationships between Gap Inc. stores and these partner organizations, and by facilitating training, mentoring, and in-kind support.
3) Gap Inc. launched the Opportunity Youth Network (OYN) in early 2013 in partnership with the Aspen Institute and the Forum for Youth Investment to address a need for more information-sharing and collaboration across the ecosystem of organizations focused on opportunity youth. In the upcoming year, Gap Inc. will work to recruit 3-5 additional companies to join OYN, explore youth engagement activities, and take first steps to train, mentor, or hire opportunity youth.
4) Gap Inc. will work to raise awareness among customers and the general public around the importance of first jobs, and the role that employers can play to support underserved youth. Gap Inc. will leverage its social media channels to share these messages and will place key company leaders in external speaking engagements. (For reference: Gap Inc. brands' Facebook followers exceed 15M.)
Q2 2014: Conduct research for new This Way Ahead city; outreach (email, phone calls, in-person meetings) to recruit new OYN corporate representatives. Explore then confirm gameplan for public awareness activities.
Q3 2014: Site visit at least two potential TWA sites; outreach to OYN corporate reps (see above; continue outreach until 3-5 new corporate members are identified); hold OYN in-person convening.
Q4 2014: Finalize new TWA city and select local nonprofit partner; train local store employees and nonprofit staff to run trainings for youth; continue outreach to recruit OYN corporate representatives.
Q1 2015: Launch new TWA city: run job training workshops; partner with Algorhythm to create and execute evaluation assessment to measure impact.
Throughout the year: work with Gap Inc.'s youth-serving community partners to deepen their impact by linking them to Gap Inc. volunteers and other resources; execute public awareness activities articulated in Q2 workplan.
There are currently 5.8 million 16 to 24 year olds who are not in school and not employed. Finding employment in this economy is challenging, but even more so for a young person, who has no professional work experience, lacks the appropriate educational background, and faces obstacles in life that make getting that first job seem impossible. Finding solutions to reengage these youth and get them on productive pathways is critical. In 2011 alone, the cost to the United States in lost revenues and social services associated with this population was billion (Belfield, Levin, Rosen: The Economic Value of Opportunity Youth, 2012). Until recently, these young people have received limited attention in unemployment headlines and policy discussions. Ironically, at a time of high unemployment, America has a skills gap. Surveys of large and small employers tell us they cannot find qualified workers in the U.S. to fill their non-managerial ranks. We can no longer afford to ignore the untapped potential that all young people represent and must redouble our efforts to educate and train them.
Gap Inc. recognizes the importance that a first job plays in the life of a young person and believes that today's youth are not just future employees, but are also future customers. Gap Inc. seeks to leverage its expertise around training first-time workers, and equip more underserved youth with the skills they need to get on pathways to success.
Gap Inc. is seeking a new community partner in the new This Way Ahead city.
Gap Inc. can offer best practice information on youth employment, and related tools and resources.