The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has announced a $28 million investment in the New Options Project, a multiyear initiative to create career pathways for out-of-school 16- to 24-year olds who are motivated to succeed but unable to find meaningful work.
The project seeks to help more than four million young adults with no high school diploma connect to career opportunities that match their talents and skills. The initiative will engage employers seeking entry-level workers and connect them to this often-overlooked demographic.
To meet the unique demands of different job markets, New Options will employ a "zone" strategy focused on states or regions such as Baltimore/Washington, D.C., Chicago, and New Mexico. In each zone, the initiative will test new ways of creating incentives for employers, schools, and community-based organizations to change how they work with disconnected young adults. At the same time, the project will work to identify specific barriers to the pursuit of meaningful career opportunities while developing partnerships and accessible, high-impact tools to help communities overcome these obstacles.
"Our ultimate goal is to transform the way employers and the public think about disconnected youth, demonstrating their employment value and contributions to society, while simultaneously disrupting the environment that allows them to remain so isolated," said Kellogg Foundation program officer Nadia Brigham. "We want to build a bridge between CEOs, managers, and human resources directors, and youth who have assets and passions to contribute to the workforce."