MORTON GROVE, Ill., June 25, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Lifeway Foods, Inc., (Nasdaq: LWAY), a leading supplier of cultured dairy products known as kefir, announced a Commitment to Action at the Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) meeting to address the opportunity gap for 16-to-24 year olds. The company is launching an internship program to help underserved youth build valuable job skills in entry-level positions while earning full-time wages. Working with Chicago-area nonprofits to identify young people to participate in internships to full-time positions at Lifeway's senior leadership offices, the company will take positive action to address the lack of economic opportunity for youth while gaining valuable new perspectives.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is prioritizing youth employment as one of the key issues for her work at the Clinton Foundation, and believes that business-led initiatives will play a critical role in addressing this important economic challenge. The Clinton Foundation is working closely with businesses and leading nonprofits, economists, and advocates across the country to identify and scale effective ways for companies to address their core business needs through engaging our nation's opportunity youth. At the 2014 CGI America meeting, Secretary Clinton announced Job One, a major set of commitments - including Lifeway Foods' - focused on improving job pathways for youth in the United States. To facilitate the sharing of best practices, and encourage more companies to adopt youth employment activities, Secretary Clinton also announced at the 2014 CGI America meeting that CGI will be creating a U.S. Youth Employment Action Network to help CGI members continue to work on this important issue over the year ahead.
"This has been a priority for us because six years after the financial crash, many young people are still struggling," Secretary Clinton said. "In fact, one of the most terrifying statistics is that nearly 6 million young Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 are out of school and out of work, and for those who don't get a college education or even high school, most doors just won't open no matter how hard they knock."
"The Great Recession has technically been over for more than four years, but almost six million young Americans are still out of work, and businesses of all sizes are having difficulty filling four million critical job vacancies," said Julie Smolyansky, CEO of Lifeway Foods, Inc. "Lack of opportunity limits lifelong economic prospects and puts a strain on local communities. At Lifeway, we're proud to make a Commitment to Action to the Clinton Global Initiative to address this urgent issue. Our internship program gives participants a chance to receive the experience and mentoring they need to build future opportunities while making valuable contributions to Lifeway's success."
Smolyansky is a member of the UN Foundation's Global Entrepreneurs Council, which recently highlighted youth empowerment and job creation at the Global Accelerator summit held last week to bring entrepreneurs and UN personnel together to find new solutions for the greatest challenges of our time. Smolyansky noted that youth make up 40% of the world's population and that a My World survey conducted with support from the Global Entrepreneurs Council found that access to a job was the highest rated priority among young people around the world.
Working with CGI and local nonprofit organizations, Lifeway made a commitment to recruit underserved youth for internship positions in the company's Chicago headquarters over the next three years. Program participants will be matched with Lifeway mentors who will provide training and ongoing support. Participants will gain valuable experience with administrative operations in the marketing, accounting, production or sales departments. Frequent evaluations will give participants and their mentors a chance to discuss progress and goals. Interns who successfully complete the program will have the opportunity to interview for full-time positions at Lifeway.
"Lack of opportunity in underserved Chicago communities is a serious problem, but by working with local nonprofit partners who can provide a talent pipeline, Lifeway can continue to make a real difference," Smolyansky explained. "CGI provides an excellent framework to expand the discussion to other Chicagoland companies, which are also experiencing talent gaps in their operations, as well as an opening to address the issue with skills development programs that in turn provide more opportunities for communities in which opportunity has been in short supply for far too long. By working together, we can create a lasting and sustainable impact."
About Lifeway Foods
Lifeway Foods, Inc. (Nasdaq: LWAY), recently named one of Fortune Small Business' Fastest Growing Companies for the sixth consecutive year, is America's leading supplier of the cultured dairy products known as kefir and organic kefir. Lifeway Kefir is a dairy beverage that contains 10 exclusive live and active probiotic cultures plus ProBoost™. In addition to its line of Kefir products, the company produces a variety of Frozen Kefir and probiotic cheese products. Lifeway also sells frozen kefir, kefir smoothies and kefir parfaits through its Starfruit™ retail stores.
About the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)
The Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America), a program of the Clinton Global Initiative, addresses economic recovery in the United States. Established in June 2011 by President Bill Clinton, CGI America brings together leaders in business, government, and civil society to generate and implement commitments to create jobs, stimulate economic growth, foster innovation, and support workforce development in the United States. Since its first meeting, CGI America participants have made over 300 commitments valued at more than $15 billion when fully funded and implemented. To learn more, visit cgiamerica.org.
Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders year-round and at its Annual Meeting to create and implement solutions to the world's most pressing challenges. CGI also convenes CGI University, which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their communities and around the world. To date, members of the CGI community have made more than 2,800 Commitments to Action, which are already improving the lives of more than 430 million people in over 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $103 billion. For more information, visit clintonglobalinitiative.org and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at facebook.com/clintonglobalinitiative.
SOURCE Lifeway Foods, Inc.