Reflections on a Historic Moment for Opportunity.
We started this journey with the 100K Opportunities Initiative to help open the door to career pathways for the 5.6 million Americans between the ages 16-24 that are unemployed and not in school, this population is also known as “opportunity youth” and there are more than 150,000 of these promising young adults in Chicago alone.
At last Thursday’s unprecedented Opportunity Fair & Forum it was inspiring to see over 4,000 young adults walk in and connect with the 30 employers and community based organizations that were onsite with possibilities for new opportunities that were sure to be transformative. This event was particularly special to me because it also marked my second year anniversary as President of LeadersUp.
Standing in the midst of all the energy and promise that seemed to electrify the McCormick Place Convention Center filled me with a deep sense of pride in the groundwork that has been laid by countless organizations and leaders that I have the privilege to work alongside, and continue to learn and grow from. It also proved that 100,000 Opportunities is more than an initiative. It is truly a movement comprised of private and public sector leaders that view the youth unemployment challenge as a movable barrier and one of our greatest solutions for securing America’s future.
LeadersUp is proud to be a part of this necessary movement. Leading up to the August 13th event we had the honor to partner with the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership in helping to prepare over 1,000 young adults through a series professional development sessions focused on resume building, mock interviews, and training in foundational workforce skills. For so many of the young adults that we helped trained, last week was the culmination of preparation and hard work that resulted in over 1,000 interviews and 600 job offers.
During the fair LeadersUp provided on-site workshops on crafting the best elevator pitch and asked young adults to share what opportunity looked like to them at our photo-booth kiosk. The above picture is one of my favorites because it truly captures the hope and impact we want to impart across this nation. In addition to a half day of interviews, the inspirational forum hosted by Common provided a platform for powerful stories of overcoming adversity from special guest speakers and celebrities including Usher, will.i.am and many others.
In a press conference that gathered several business leaders from the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative, Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz shared that “we have to make a comprehensive all in commitment to protecting the American dream.” I believe that last week was that commitment in action and brought us closer towards creating a more inclusive economy.
We know that sustainable impact doesn’t happen in one event, but it comes from a relentless commitment to the goal ahead. This is why LeadersUp is thrilled to continue to support the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative and its goal to form the nations largest employer-led coalition committed to creating employment pathways for young people.
Click here to learn more about LeadersUp, and view photos from the Opportunity Fair & Forum.
It is an honor to serve,