Media Highlights

New “Grads of Life” Campaign to Bridge the Gap between Employers and Qualified Candidates known as Opportunity Youth

PSAs and website offer resources, tools and information to help employers connect with unseen talent

[New York] [September 23, 2014] / PR Newswire / — Today at the 10th Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York City, the Ad Council in partnership with Year Up, the Employment Pathways Project, ConPRmetidos, MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, New Options Project, and Opportunity Nation launched the national “Grads of Life” campaign to help businesses fill more than 4 million vacant positions within the United States with qualified workers. The launch took place during CGI’s inaugural in-person meeting of the new Youth Employment Action Network attended by both business and non-profit leaders.

Secretary Hillary Clinton shared a message in support of the launch: “As we continue the work of Job One at The Clinton Foundation, we need to continue to build partnerships and to recruit more businesses to solve this important economic challenge. The Grads of Life PSA campaign is the first effort to drive employer demand for the millions of low-income young adults that are a huge source of untapped talent in our country and through employers can now access the first-ever online platform for the information, tools, and resources they need to take action today. I am asking employers, educators, non-profits, community leaders to join me and the Grads of Life campaign in this bold agenda to grow our economy and to create new opportunities for tomorrow’s leaders.”

Although many employers are open to the concept of alternative hiring practices, the current candidate screening process is still largely tailored towards traditional applicants with four-year college degrees. “Over the past decade, Year Up has connected more than four hundred businesses looking for skilled entry level talent with young adults searching for meaningful career opportunities. We are honored to support the Grads of Life campaign to create employment pathways for our young adults and to highlight the tremendous opportunity this important source of talent represents for businesses, the economy and our country,” says Gerald Chertavian, Founder and CEO, Year Up.

The new “Grads of Life” campaign was developed to raise awareness and change employer’s perceptions of opportunity youth – the more than 6 million young people without access to employment, educational opportunities or the economic mainstream. The effort includes a series of print, broadcast, radio, outdoor and web public service ads (PSAs), which seek to evolve social norms so that proven models of “employment pathways” – mentoring, school-to-work programs, internships, and other hiring opportunities – are widely recognized and used by competitive, best-practice employers to hire previously overlooked candidates.

Companies such as Gap Inc., which includes the Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime, Athleta, and Intermix brands, are already tapping into this pool of talent and seeing the benefits. “Through our stores, Gap Inc. has provided countless young people with their first job opportunities, so we know what it takes for them to get and keep a job,” says Dan Henkle, SVP, Global Human Resources, Gap Inc. “Through our job training and internship program, This Way Ahead, our employees give participants practical know-how and the opportunity to gain real job experience. The experience is mutually beneficial. Our employees sharpen their managerial skills while teaching underserved youth how to do everything from writing a resume to interviewing. We hope the ‘Grads of Life’ campaign encourages other employers to invest in the development of a tremendous source of overlooked talent.”

American companies need to invest in non-traditional, qualified candidates in order to compete in the global marketplace, and avoid negative economic repercussions in the future. According to “The Economic Value of Opportunity Youth Report,” this group of untapped talent will cost the nation $93 billion annually and $1.6 trillion over their lifetimes in lost revenues and increased social services. Furthermore, research from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce reveals that by 2025, businesses will face a shortage of 12 million skilled workers if they adhere to traditional hiring practices.

Employers who utilize employment pathways programs have reported significant business benefits, including cost-effective talent acquisition, increased retention, higher productivity, increased diversity and enhanced employee engagement, among others.

“Every successful hiring story begins with something as simple as an opportunity, with someone opening a door and giving a young person a chance to prove themselves,” says Peggy Conlon, President and CEO, Ad Council. “Unfortunately, most employers aren’t yet looking to this untapped talent as a solution to their needs. We hope this new campaign will help employers see the benefits of looking beyond the typical applications and motivate them to hire these non-traditional candidates.”

The national, multimedia PSAs – created pro bono by Arnold Worldwide – raise awareness about opportunity youth, and the wealth of talent that companies continuously disregard. In addition, a website,, has been developed to help shift perceptions of opportunity youth and arm employers with the information, tools, and connections needed to create employment pathways for these young adults, and subsequently, develop pipelines of work-ready, entry-level employees to the benefit of these companies and the economy.

“The ‘Grads of Life’ campaign is uniting two communities very much in need of one another: our underserved young adults working hard to find the opportunities they need to launch successful careers, and the forward-thinking employers that are looking for untapped talent,” says Pam Hamlin, President, Arnold Worldwide. “Arnold is proud to help tackle such an important issue and propel this movement forward with an integrated campaign that celebrates these motivated young people and the organizations that realize their potential.”

The “Grads of Life” campaign will target hiring managers online through a partnership with LinkedIn, and extended through new Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube channels. Per the Ad Council’s model, the PSAs will run in space and time entirely donated by the media.

The “Grads of Life” campaign seeks to address the opportunity divide in the United States, the gap between the 6 million young people without access to employment or educational opportunities, and the more than 4 million vacant positions businesses are in dire need of filling. To close this divide, a coalition of partners including Year Up, the Employment Pathways Project, ConPRmetidos, MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, New Options Project, and Opportunity Nation worked with the Ad Council to create this campaign designed to shift employer’s perceptions of opportunity youth and support employer’s evolving business practices to include these talented, young adults. To learn more about the “Grads of Life” campaign visit, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or connect with us on LinkedIn.

The Ad Council is a private, non-profit organization with a rich history of marshalling volunteer talent from the advertising and media industries to deliver critical messages to the American public. Having produced literally thousands of PSA campaigns addressing the most pressing social issues of the day, the Ad Council has affected, and continues to affect, tremendous positive change by raising awareness, inspiring action and saving lives. To learn more about the Ad Council and its campaigns, visit, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or view our PSAs on YouTube.

Arnold is a global communications company and one of the top five most creatively awarded agencies of the past decade. We are proud to represent a diverse portfolio of clients, including Aetna, Amtrak, Carnival Cruise Lines, CVS/pharmacy, Dell, Fidelity Investments, The Hershey Company, Huntington Bank, Jack Daniel’s, McDonald’s, New Balance, Ocean Spray, Panasonic, Pearle Vision, Progressive, Sanofi-Aventis, Titleist, truth®, Tyson Foods, Unilever, Vertex, Volvo and many other great brands. Arnold delivers services across all communication touch points — advertising, digital, promotions, direct, design, branded content — and is part of Havas Worldwide with offices in Boston, New York, Washington DC, Toronto, London, Amsterdam, Prague, Milan, Madrid, Moscow, Lisbon, Sydney, São Paulo and Shanghai.

Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 180 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date, members of the CGI community have made more than 2,900 commitments, which are already improving the lives of more than 430 million people in over 180 countries.

CGI also convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States, and CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook

Media Contact: 
Christen Smiley
(202) 756-2402 

Grads of Life Campaign Contact: 
Jennifer Warren
(617) 542-1533 ext. 1591

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