[My student] has been motivated and ambitious because of his involvement with BAM @Work and how BAM @Work has taught him to be responsible.
Career Readiness and Success
Career Readiness and Success
Youth Guidance’s vision is that all young people in Chicago know their value, can envision themselves in a career, and can step into the workforce with confidence and a plan of action to succeed. We believe that creating a more diverse and capable workforce through innovative youth-centered services will lead to lower unemployment, connected communities, and a stronger economy.
Our Workforce Development Programs Offer
Over the past two years, Youth Guidance’s Career Readiness and Success (formerly Youth Workforce Development) programs have served 428 youth and facilitated placements for 306 youth into workforce opportunities.
@Work is a specially designed year-long program for students who have successfully progressed through the BAM and WOW programs. The curriculum builds off of the BAM and WOW core values to empower participants to build and deepen relationships that impact their post-secondary success.
BAM @Work has taught me to trust myself. Trust that I have everything I need to achieve whatever my life desire. BAM @Work has given me the knowledge that I need to figure out my personal and professional goals.
MatiasLittle Village Social Justice High School, July 2019
Thanks to BAM @Work I can help provide for my family. My mother is so proud that I have stepped up and became the man of the house. BAM @Work has taught me to be professional and to not afraid to sell myself to the world.
VershawnDunbar Career Academy, July 2019
Throughout the year, youth attend events with corporate partners to practice these skills and network. Youth participate in additional workshops and receive individual support from an @Work Specialist who connects them with job opportunities and internships.
In weekly circles, youth learn to:
on their personal strengths
a brighter future
their plan of action
for new opportunities
In 2017-2018, 67 CPS students and 15 postgraduates participated in Project Prepare.
All maintained their enrollment in school, while the average dropout rate for students in the same CPS schools was 6.5%. Research further revealed that 93% of participants graduated from high school on time.
For more than 30 years, Project Prepare has helped young people focus on the development of current and future career interests.
The program pairs 11th and 12th graders at three area high schools with career specialists who guide them through career exploration and coach them on developing ten core job readiness skills.
Career Specialists cater the training to meet the individual needs of each participant. Youth also participate in special events such as job shadowing, employer visits, and job readiness boot camps.
Project Prepare helps students develop hard and soft life skills focused on college and career readiness. Most participants are between the ages of 15-19. Students enter the program through referral and meet with highly skilled Career Specialists on a bi-weekly basis. During the 2014-2015 school year, Project Prepare successfully placed students into 96 job opportunities.
Safeguarding graduation is a primary focus for program staff.
Loop Discovery Search
Since 1989, Youth Guidance has also included the Loop Discovery Search as a part of Project Prepare. The activity has educated more than 1,200 inner-city youth on the Chicago “Loop” business district. Student teams are sent on a clue-by-clue search throughout the downtown area to collect information from landmarks, maps, building directories, street signs, and library shelves.
The project helps develop important workforce skills including teamwork, critical thinking, time management, decision making, conflict management, and navigation.
Project Prepare Blue
In January 2016, Youth Guidance launched Project Prepare Blue, a workforce development program that builds upon its proven in-school programming to serve out-of-school and underemployed youth.
Individual and group-based career exploration, job readiness training and other supports take place in a community-based setting. Staff facilitates placement into employment, advanced training and/or college that will lead to work and education retention, skills gains, credential attainment, and increased earnings.
Youth participate in an intensive two-week professional development training then receive up to one year of coaching from their Career Specialist to execute their individual employment plan.
In July 2017, Project Prepare Blue expanded its partnership with Sprint to expose and connect youth to career pathways within Sprint through job shadowing, corporate office visits, and coaching from employees.
When Oscar graduated from high school, he assumed he would go to college and get a job. As he was applying for work he realized he had no idea what to wear to interviews, what to say, nor what he should take with him. Thankfully, his high school BAM Counselor introduced him to Project Prepare Blue. In just the first week, he found a professional atmosphere, one he needed to hone his abilities. Also, the workshops and guest speakers taught him how to overcome his anxiety during group, phone, and in-person interviews; and manage his personal and professional time, and budget for future goals. Also, the youth within his cohort became his accountability partners and constantly encouraged him to reach his goals.
“I knew they were there to help me become more professional. I met a new network and learned to be confident at every social, interview, and work environment,” Oscar said.
After completing a summer internship with a graphic design firm, Oscar reached out to professionals he met from Uber during the training. The program empowered him to apply at their corporate office. Now Oscar is a full-time employee, earning a livable wage with benefits in a corporate career. He is now able to save money for college, his photography business, and his future.
Youth Guidance invests in the future of young men and women by supporting their transition from high school to responsible adulthood. Our workforce development programs support students by exposing them to a wide spectrum of future possibilities and giving them tangible skills to achieve their short-term and long-term goals.
I made a small, positive difference in the trajectory of the student’s life.
It was well worth the experience and you can learn a lot . . .This event was door opening to new possibilities I can accomplish, and the confidence boost I needed to get a job.
Post-Secondary and Workforce Opportunities
Youth Guidance provides placement and retention support to participants for a variety of college and career opportunities curated by staff to meet the interests and qualifications of participants.
These opportunities include paid internships, jobs, and enrollment into college access and advanced career training programs such as Genesys Works, Year Up, Chicago Scholars, and One Million Degrees.
Youth Guidance is grateful for the support of our diverse employer network including: At Your Service, Chicago Park District, Ford Motor Company, Hilco Global, Hyatt, Mariano’s, Sprint, State Farm Insurance, Target, TJX Companies, Uber, and University of Chicago Medicine.
Career Exploration Events
Career exploration events utilize corporate volunteers who meet with youth and provide them with individualized guidance on networking skills, career pathways, and interviewing. These events allow volunteers to interact and get to know youth on a personal level.
During FY19, 350 professional volunteers worked with 475 Youth Guidance students during 16 events. Corporate hosts included Uber, United Airlines, Sprint, and Exelon. Following the events, 77% of students surveyed felt more confident pursing job opportunities after engaging with volunteers and 84% of students felt that preparing and practicing interviewing was very helpful.