As a native of Richmond, California, I am acutely aware of the challenges young men of color face growing up in the Bay Area. When I walked through the doors of the Oakland Convention Center on Tuesday, October 17, to attend the BAYEP Career Summit, I was thrilled to see hundreds of young people lined up, anxiously waiting to be interviewed. It reminded me of the importance and responsibility of leaders of color to ensure that every young person who wants to work has equitable access to a career with a future.
To help achieve this, a strategic alliance was formed in 2016, with LeadersUp, Bay Area Council, PolicyLink and Urban Strategies Council. This new collaboration, the Bay Area Young Men of Color Employment Partnership (BAYEP) was created to activate a diverse network of partners committed to connecting young men of color (YMoC) to the growing Bay Area labor market and ongoing talent development support. This year BAYEP returned to the Oakland Convention Center with a new partner, United Way Bay Area; and thanks to the tremendous support of the Lumina Foundation along with the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), Kaiser Permanente, James Irvine Foundation, Prudential, Microsoft and LinkedIn, together we formed a deeper commitment to helping connect young men: African American, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian Pacific Islanders, as well as Opportunity Youth, to sustainable careers.
Twenty top employers, including AT&T, Lyft, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Noah’s Bagels, Marriott, and American Hotel & Lodging Association, delivered career exploration tips and conducted on-the-spot hiring for more than 350 attendees. Prior to the summit, LeadersUp partnered with Bay Area community organizations to host a series of career training workshops to help young adults successfully prepare for interviews with prospective employers. I want to especially thank Laney College, Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), and Richmond WORKS/East Bay Works for their incredible support. With their help, more than 300 young adults attended career development trainings. The young adults, including current college student Darren Sasser, were able to secure job interviews and many fielded multiple on-the-spot job offers on the day of the summit.
“I found the training to be helpful,” said Darren, who attended the LeadersUp Pre-Summit Career Training, hosted by Youth Employment Partnership. “I definitely learned a lot about the P.O.W.E.R. skills, especially R: Relationships and Teamwork. I’m finishing up my schooling with a communications degree, so I feel that connecting with people and asking questions are important assets that I need to continue to (learn how to) use.”
We were very grateful to have Mayor Tom Butt from Richmond join us at the breakfast and the pinning ceremony to congratulate and support young adults before their one-on-one interviews. Having local political leaders like Mayor Butt and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf encourage the young adults was a meaningful component of the summit and it validated our efforts to connect Opportunity Youth to career pathways throughout the Bay Area. Darren told us, “One of the biggest things that stood out to me was seeing Mayor Tom Butt and Mayor Libby Schaaf support this event. Having Mayor Tom Butt give that big speech about the whole BAYEP partnership…was very valuable to me because it showed that he truly cares about getting young men to open up to new things that they wouldn’t normally do.”
Creating an Interactive Hiring Experience
Our goal as partners with the Bay Area’s leading nonprofit organizations was to put together a hiring event that would benefit our growing population of unemployed YMoC and help address the socioeconomic challenges they face on a daily basis. This transformative event also hosted a number of career and resource workshops including:
- Photographers from LinkedIn provided headshots to help attendees create professional online profiles.
- Finance experts provided one-on-one budgeting support and customizable plans to help young adults take control of their financial futures.
- Microsoft sponsored a technology hub where young adults were able to speak with tech industry professionals about their own career pathways and demo the new HoloLens, Microsoft’s revolutionary untethered holographic computer with a head-mounted display.
- Los Rakas, Oakland’s own Grammy-nominated Latin hip-hop duo, performed popular tracks and gave indispensable advice to their peers.
- Free haircuts were provided by Massive, the East Bay’s popular barbershop.
- Macy’s sponsored a dress for success boutique and provided young adults with suits and ties to help them look and feel professional for interviews.
Working Together to Build Upon the Impact Achieved
We know that the lasting impact we seek requires more than an annual hiring event. As a young man of color and a Bay Area native, it has been difficult for Darren to obtain a job in the current labor market, but having attended the summit, he left with a job offer from Noah’s New York Bagels and Whole Foods. He admits, “One of the struggles I will no longer face is having to live from month-to-month, I’m looking forward to doing things for myself, like paying my own bills.” Darren and the nearly 300 young people who receive job offers can’t be the only exceptions to the youth unemployment crisis.
Over the next 12 to 18 months BAYEP will provide ongoing support to hiring partners and mentorship for the new hires and young adults throughout the Bay Area. Please join us by volunteering, becoming a mentor or helping to spread the word about upcoming opportunities and events. Get involved here. View photos from the career summit here and stay connected to www.BAYEP.org for the latest updates.
President & CEO