Inner-City Youth Need Development, Not Just Jobs

As the Starbucks-led 100,000 Opportunities Initiative launches, the All Stars Project of Chicago calls out need to invest in development - of youth and of employers

Aug 13, 2015, 10:03 ET from All Stars Project, Inc.

CHICAGO, Aug. 13, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the All Stars Project (ASP) of Chicago is taking part in the launch event for the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative, expected to bring thousands of youth and a wide range of employers together at McCormick Place. ASP is honored to have been asked by Starbucks to participate in this admirable endeavor. Says David Cherry, the City Leader of ASP of Chicago: "The question of how to create opportunities for the millions of poor and disconnected youth in this country, to transform the reality of what they can achieve, has been the driving force of my career. I understand the challenges involved, both as a Black man who grew up in poverty, and as a leader at the forefront of youth development today."

As City Leader of ASP of Chicago, and of the Chicago branch of ASP's Development School for Youth (DSY), one of the most successful leadership-training programs for poor inner-city youth in the country, Mr. Cherry speaks from experience working with thousands of youth: "There is a lot more to successful employment for inner-city kids than being offered an interview, or even a job. It is the path leading to that interview, to that starting job, that is most crucial to turning a job into a transformative experience – both for youth and employers. The corporate world must take an honest look at what is happening in these poor communities, at the impact of generations of poverty on the ability of youth to enter, engage and succeed in the workforce. We must focus on development."

The DSY, which partners with dozens of corporations, has been successful in reaching and developing often-overlooked youth. Through this work, they have repeatedly found that it is the "ordinary" kids who most need reaching, not the top 10 percent. And finally, any jobs initiative should recognize – this isn't about a "quick fix" job. It's about the need for a life-changing experience for both poor youth and business leaders.

To meet this need, development – of young people and their potential employers – must be integrated into any jobs creation initiative. Young people need to learn how to perform as a professional – everything from public speaking, to dress, to understanding cultural expectations. Employers also need to have a training experience, so they have interacted with inner city teenagers before they have their first day on the job. Youth from poor communities experience far greater success at jobs where management has been trained in how to develop them. Jobs that offer not just a paycheck, but an entry into a professional world from which these youth have been isolated due to poverty.

Mr. Cherry: "I work with Chicago's top business leaders every day to develop our poorest youth – I invite all members of the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative to join us."

About All Stars Project, Inc.

The All Stars Project is a privately funded national nonprofit organization founded in 1981 whose mission is to transform the lives of youth and poor communities using the developmental power of performance, in partnership with caring adults. ASP is supported by some of America's leading companies including MetLife, DIRECTV, Viacom and Investors Bank.  Led by President and CEO Gabrielle Kurlander, the ASP involves over 10,000 young people every year in its afterschool programs in six cities across the country. Learn more at, on Facebook and on Twitter @AllStarsProject.

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SOURCE All Stars Project, Inc.