Apprenticeship program targets nearly 14,000 opportunity youth.

September 8, 2023

Data shows that a concerning percentage of young adults from certain neighborhoods in Greater Atlanta are not on track for success in college or career pathways. CareerReady ATL is adjusting the course.

For several neighborhoods across Greater Atlanta, the lack of clear pathways to successful careers has resulted in a concerning percentage of opportunity youth — people between the ages of 16 and 19 who are neither in school nor part of the workforce. With college and career readiness as one of four key investment priorities, United Way of Greater Atlanta is tapping into this unrealized potential through their CareerReady ATL initiative.

United Way launched CareerReady ATL in 2021 with the goal of increasing access to equitable education and economic opportunities for youth of color ages 16 to 24 who are furthest from opportunity. Through their youth apprenticeship program, they remove barriers to opportunities that are otherwise reserved for young people with higher socioeconomic status, ultimately supporting inclusive economic growth and better economic mobility for the Greater Atlanta region.

United Way’s focus on improving career readiness through CareerReady ATL is a microcosm of their much bigger Child Well-Being Movement. The initiative unites people and resources across sectors to invest in strategies that drive lasting improvements in the well-being of children, families, and the communities that surround them.

According to the latest data from the 2023 Child Well-Being Outlook: Insights for Impact Report, 79 neighborhoods within Greater Atlanta show concerningly low child well-being. These neighborhoods — designated as high-need areas — have an estimated 2,800 opportunity youth not on track for college or career success. Although these neighborhoods represent just 6 percent of the Greater Atlanta population, they represent 20 percent of the total estimated nearly 14,000 opportunity youth in the 13-county footprint. The disproportionate number of opportunity youth in these neighborhoods indicates a systemic failure to equitably provide the tools needed for success.

RE:IMAGINE, an Atlanta-based nonprofit organization and United Way partner, is a shining example of a CareerReady ATL partner that is making an impact. With their EMERGE paid apprenticeship program, RE:IMAGINE is educating a generation of young Atlantans with a variety of technical and artistic skills to prepare them to enter the burgeoning Georgia film industry.

“RE:IMAGINE has offered many job opportunities pertaining specifically to my interest in writing and directing. I got the chance to write and direct my own short film which premiered at RE:IMAGINE events and became an addition to my portfolio,” says TyKaia Riley, one of the talented young people who has benefited from an apprenticeship.

Another apprentice, Laila Harrison, highlights the companies she was able to work with through the program, “Thanks to RE:IMAGINE, I’ve had the chance to be a part of productions associated with NBC, Teach for America, Microsoft, and Dagger. These projects will enhance my probability for other work, which I’m very thankful for.”

Funded by powerhouses like the NBA Foundation, Microsoft, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, CareerReady ATL aims to fulfill 4,000 youth apprenticeship opportunities by 2027 so young people like TyKaia Riley and Laila Harrison aren’t limited by factors beyond their control.

“Our efforts are intentionally building programs that reach into our schools and create pipelines to good jobs through pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs connected to high demand industries that pay family-sustaining wages. We are building a comprehensive workforce development initiative that will create sustainable career pathways with youth at the center,” says Michele Jacobs, Senior Director of Youth Development at United Way of Greater Atlanta. United Way can’t continue this important work without your support. Join them in unlocking the potential of children, families, and communities today by donating to the Child Well-Being Fund.

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