PRIDE Industries has long prided itself on working with underrepresented populations, helping create career pathways for those with disabilities and other barriers to employment through a business-to-business service. The social enterprise also has a workforce-inclusion department to support people looking for jobs.
Despite more than 5,000 employees working to achieve PRIDE’s goals, the company noticed a gap in services: one that could serve a community coined “opportunity youth” those ages 16–24 who are disconnected from school and work.
“We decided to work with some funders to close that gap,” says Jennifer Luebke, chief workforce inclusion officer for PRIDE.
That is how a special arm of the organization called YES (youth employment services) was formed. To qualify, participants need to meet the age requirements, live or go to school in either Sacramento County or Placer County, and identify with at least one of several known barriers to employment (disability, homelessness or PTSD, among others).
The age requirement was created because statistics show that when a person with barriers to employment does not integrate with society and get started in the workforce by their late 20s, they are more likely to end up incarcerated.
The two-year initiative started in July 2022 with 12 youth. By the end of February, 50 young people were enrolled in the program and getting matched to internships with local companies. By the end of year one, PRIDE plans to have 75 youth enrolled.
“When we make a difference in the life of someone who is young . . . and we can get them set in that right direction, it’s so powerful and meaningful for that person’s life and its trajectory,” Luebke says.
In year two, the program will pair its 75 existing participants with 75 new participants in a one-to-one peer counseling format. That will be in addition to the continued workforce support provided by PRIDE. After year two, the goal is to continue the program by securing additional funding.
To recommend a youth for the program or if you have a business open to working with YES, contact assistant manager Carlos Perez at firstname.lastname@example.org.