NOLA Youth Works

NOLA Youth Works and United Way
are strengthening the school to career cycle!
EDUCATION is the cornerstone of individual and community success. The ability of students to think, learn and communicate affects their likelihood of becoming productive adults and active citizens. Strengthening the school to career cycle of education is fundamental to our community’s economic prosperity.
During the summer of 2012, a partnership was launched with the City of New Orleans through NOLA Youth Works, the city’s summer youth employment program. United Way of
Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA) and NOLA Youth Works collaborated to create a local career development model that incorporates the best practices of youth development while simultaneously being informed by the needs of local business. This multifaceted approach would improve youth employment skills, increase the competency of adults who work with adolescents, and engage businesses both as informants and beneficiaries of this career readiness work.
A three-year pilot program was established to measure the impact of developmentally appropriate youth employment and internship opportunities on soft skills, employability and school outcomes for pilot participants as compared to a cohort of other NOLA Youth Works participants.
The NOLA Youth Works and UWSELA pilot recruited and trained a select group of summer employment providers in developmentally appropriate practice (DAP) for adolescents and incorporated it into program structure and daily practice.
The program ensured that coaches/instructors were not only highly competent but understood the important factors that intrigued the minds of teens by exposing them to careers. Instructors used pedagogy techniques to understand how the adolescence brain develops and learns, and throughout the program coaches/instructors taught judgment and decision making techniques as critical factors to adolescent development. They were trained to explore:
· What characteristics and skills indicate workplace success
· Ways to enhance a student’s self-value and confidence
· How do you foster flexibility and adaptability in teens
· What makes learning last
· Three components of effective communication
· Strategies for developing 21st Century workplace communication in teens
A sample of youth was selected from each program to evaluate and assess youth opinions about their Summer Youth Employment Experience. The surveys identify workforce development skills gained, youth overall satisfaction with program, and other personal factors related to youth summer employment experience. Here are some of the results: 
· Overwhelming number of youth sampled revealed they learned about the NOLA Youth Works Summer Job Program through their school. Very few youth identified television, billboard, and radio media      as their source of learning about the program.
· Of the 238 students surveyed, 92 percent would recommend the Summer Program to their peers.
· Nearly 50 percent indicated that they felt smarter and better prepared for school after participating in the program.
· Almost 90 percent believe they are better prepared for work as a result of their summer youth work experience.

One of United Way’s strategic goals is to improve the readiness of area youth to join the workforce and have career pathways. We understand that academics, as well as social, emotional, and physical health are significant factors that influence the likelihood that youth will grow to become successful adults.
If every individual has an opportunity to succeed, our entire community will thrive as a result. We're getting closer every day- with successful partnerships and programs such as NOLA Youth Works. And with continued generosity and support, our work will not stop. Join us. LIVE UNITED.