Walmart Foundation Grants $500,000 to Support Summer Jobs for Youth in Philadelphia

The Walmart Foundation provided a $500,000 grant to the Philadelphia Youth Network, Inc. (PYN) via its 2012 Summer Youth Employment Initiative. This grant will fund 320 paid summer work opportunities for low income, disengaged youth, including out-of-school youth as well as those in the public care system (homeless, fostered, abused, adjudicated). In addition to 150 hours of paid work experiences, participants will receive a range of educational and supportive services designed to address barriers to success in school and work. Philadelphia Youth Network is the managing partner of WorkReady Philadelphia.

In its sixth year, the initiative, a collaborative effort by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce with TD Bank, and WorkReady Philadelphia and their partners, encourages regional companies of all sizes to change the life of a young person by providing a paid internship.

To date, more than 5,000 students have taken part in this important initiative with over 100 companies and organizations. This year alone, 1,114 students are taking part in this program. For participating organizations, the costs are minimal. Each position costs the employer roughly $1,670, which includes intern salary and program administration. For six weeks, the interns work for at least 20 hours a week per week Monday through Thursday and attend professional development programs on Fridays.

“We are grateful to the Walmart Foundation for their investment in Philadelphia’s youth. This infusion of dollars, coupled with local funding, has helped Philadelphia to bring the number of WorkReady Summer youth employment opportunities from a projected low of 4,800 to over 5,600. Just as importantly, the Walmart Foundation dollars are enabling WorkReady to pilot an expanded summer program for a critical population. Research conducted through this project will shed light on best practices that can be incorporated into future WorkReady programming,” said Stacy E. Holland, PYN’s President and CEO.

This grant is part of a three-pronged, $20M investment the Walmart Foundation is making to enable low-income children to enjoy smarter, healthier and more productive summers. The grants will help expand nutrition, learning, and employment programs for elementary, middle, and high school students in 350 local communities throughout the 2012 summer months. The grant PYN is receiving comes via Brandeis University, which is serving as the National Program Office for the summer jobs component of this larger initiative. Philadelphia is only one of seven cities funded by this program; others include: Phoenix, AZ; New York, NY; Hartford, CT; Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; and Los Angeles, CA.

The issue of youth employment has drawn recent attention from the White House, which released a report in early June 2012 from its Council for Community Solutions. The report concludes that there needs to be increased collaboration between governments, grant makers and nonprofits to get young people educated and prepared for jobs.

“Summer is a critical time for the continued health and development of our nation’s youth,” said Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of the Walmart Foundation. We know that providing access to job opportunities and skills training during the summer months will allow students to return to school healthy, prepared and ready to succeed. By working closely with Philadelphia Youth Network, we can help kids have better summers and ultimately, better lives.”

WorkReady Summer programs began on July 2 and run through August 10.