Media Highlights

New Interactive Jobs Website Shows Businesses How to Develop and Leverage Today’s Opportunity Youth


June 4, 2012


Christopher Cashman, 212-804-6370


Opportunity Nation, in Partnership with Gap Inc., Launches a Web Tool that Offers Step-By-Step Instructions to Businesses to Create New Employment and Learning Opportunities for Youth

With the number of unemployed youth nearly double the rate of national unemployment, Opportunity Nation, in partnership with the global specialty retailer Gap Inc., today launched the Connecting Youth & Business microsite, an interactive and easy-to-use online tool that both demonstrates the value today’s opportunity youth can bring to the workforce, and walks businesses through the process of how to create new employment and learning opportunities for youth. The web tool was unveiled as part of today’s White House Summit on Community Solutions for Disconnected Youth.

Businesses can use the online tool to identify one of three ways to create opportunities for young people: (1) helping youth develop Soft Skills – professional workplace skills and behaviors – through mentoring on topics such as communication, leadership, and presentation skills; (2) helping youth develop Work Ready Skills – qualities that enable youth to respond to workplace situations encountered in everyday adult life – through activities such as career days and job- shadowing; and (3) helping youth put these skills to use in an actual work environment through Learn and Earn Programs like internships, experiential learning, and apprenticeships.

“Our Opportunity Index revealed that one of the most dominant factors in determining an area’s overall opportunity score was the engagement of the youth living in those areas. This online toolkit takes aim at rebuilding this early and pivotal rung on the ladder of opportunity,” said Mark Edwards, executive director of Opportunity Nation. “It provides an unassailable roadmap for businesses of every shape and size to follow to re-engage today’s disconnected youth and help put them back on the path of personal and economic success. We couldn’t be more pleased to have partnered with Gap Inc. on this tool and look forward to future endeavors that continue this trend of creating innovative ways to help improve economic mobility for all Americans.”

“Businesses can play a critical role in helping young people develop skills to boost their future job competitiveness, a sense of accountability, and a vision for their future,” said Bobbi Silten, senior vice president, global responsibility at Gap Inc. and president, Gap Foundation. “All of us benefited in some way from that first job or internship. This web tool outlines the many ways businesses can make that same kind of impact for a young person seeking to enter the workforce.”

At the peak of the 2011 summer jobs season, more than 18 percent of Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 who were looking for jobs were unemployed, nearly double the rate of total unemployment in the U.S. According to a report published by Columbia University and Queen’s College CUNY, the cost per year of youth disconnected from school and work translates into more than $93 billion in lost taxes and direct costs to support these young people.

While young people face barriers to employment, they also recognize that they can greatly benefit from outside support and training to develop work skills and experience. They are looking for mentors and opportunities from the business community to help them develop the knowledge, skills, and attitude required to be successful in the workplace through programs and partnerships.

The website is based on a publication called A Toolkit for Employers: Connecting Youth and Business, created by Gap Inc. with the support of McKinsey & Company, Corporate Voices for Working Families, and the Taproot Foundation. This toolkit supports the work of the White House Council for Community Solutions, which was established in 2010 to identify, encourage growth, and maximize the impact of cross-sector community initiatives that engage all citizens to help solve our nation’s most serious problems. Through its work to learn more about effective local collaborative efforts, the Council chose to apply its findings toward expanding opportunity for young people who are not connected to learning and work.

Today at the White House, the Council presented its final report and recommendations for how all Americans can work together to address key community challenges and create real, systemic change for youth who are out of school and work, and for their communities. The report can be read here.

To learn more about Opportunity Nation and the steps they are taking to develop a shared plan to close the skills gap and restore opportunity in America, visit


Opportunity Nation is a broad coalition of more than 200 businesses, non-profits, corporate partners, faith-based organizations, educational institutions, and civic organizations focused on closing the opportunity gap in America. The campaign has created a shared agenda of bipartisan policy proposals and private sector innovations to increase opportunity, economic mobility, and access to the American Dream. For more information please visit and check us out on Twitter @OppNation and on Facebook at OpportunityNation. 

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