Provides six learning modules in a toolkit for employers, community-based organizations, and intermediaries invested in developing employment for opportunity youth, based on lessons learned from the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative in Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Phoenix, and Seattle.

“The [100,000 Opportunities] Initiative has rapidly become the largest employer-led, opportunity youth-focused coalition in the country. [Launched in 2015,] the partnership of more than 50 U.S.-based companies with national leaders, innovators and foundations seeks to create more pathways to economic prosperity for vulnerable youth and connect employers to this underutilized talent pipeline.

The Demonstration Cities component within this employer-led coalition…seeks to develop a coordinated approach to engaging the ’demand’ side in creating employer-led career pathway prototypes that have high potential for scaling and replication. The…effort represents a…systems alignment strategy to create and scale this work in ChicagoLos AngelesNew OrleansPhoenix and Seattle” (100,000 Opportunities Initiative – Demonstration Cities).

Goals include:

  • “Develop and support talent pipelines of tens of thousands of opportunity youth leading to hiring, retention and advancement
  • Create new models of urban employer/workforce/education partnerships
  • Develop scalable 100K employer-connected pathways for employment, training, education, upskilling and retention of former opportunity youth” (100,000 Opportunities Initiative – Demonstration Cities).


“This toolkit is designed to help [community-based organizations, employers, and other stakeholders] put youth on a path to employment” (Welcome).

The toolkit is organized as follows: “Module One: Understanding Workforce Needs” and “Module Three: Developing a Community Strategy” are intended for backbone organizations and collaborative members that want to develop an “approach to building out paths to employment for opportunity youth” (Get started with our learning modules).

“Module Two: Understanding the Talent Pipeline” and “Module Six: Shifting Company Policies” are designed for employers “seeking to understand how best to recruit, hire, and retain opportunity youth” (Get started).

“Module Five: Building Out Paths to Employment” is best suited for those “ready to take specific steps to build out paths to employment for opportunity youth” (Get started). Module Four: Holding Hiring Fairs was under development at the time of writing.

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

Module one discusses workforce needs: “In order to develop strong pathways for opportunity youth, it’s important for backbone organizations and other community organizations and intermediaries to understand regional workforce needs. This includes: understanding the labor market, and understanding employer needs. [Stakeholders] can build on this foundational understanding to identify `best bets’…and understand what it means to take a sectoral strategy to building employment pathways” (Module 1). Module two addresses the talent pipeline: “Employers seeking to hire opportunity youth do not have to go it alone—communities have a range of entities that can help with recruitment, employment preparation, skill development, and even retention supports. These services and supports can be provided by community-based organizations, other skill training providers, and community colleges” (Module 2). Module three focuses on community strategies: “Opportunity youth find themselves outside mainstream education and workforce institutions at a critical and vulnerable time in their lives. Creating a path for them back into the workforce requires a community approach that considers what specific populations of opportunity youth to target, the existing employment pathways on which to build, and the political will and system supports that offer opportunities for leverage” (Module 3). Module four on holding hiring fairs is under development. Module five discusses paths to employment: “A backbone, its collaborative partners, and employers each play specific roles in connecting opportunity youth to employment. Partnerships between these entities are especially critical to ensure coordination in creating pathways to employment” (Module 5). Module six covers company policies: “Employers seeking to change practices and policies in order to boost retention know that doing so is not only good for employees; reducing turnover and retaining talent is good business” (Module 6). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)