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A recent Brookings report estimated that 3 million young people ages 16-24, or 7.6 percent of all young people in the U.S., are disconnected from pathways to economic success, because they are either unemployed or not in school. The report also found that young people become more competitive job candidates when they have education, skills, and experience on their resume.

This is an area that I’m passionate about – I can still vividly recall meeting a group of teens from Anacostia in Washington D.C. in 1996 at a forum for youth violence. They eloquently articulated the obvious, that they needed jobs to help them forge a new path and stay out of trouble. They were eager to develop their credentials in order to join the workforce but lacked the opportunities. Too often, urban young adults face a multitude of challenges that impact their long-term success. My experience led me to help create Urban Alliance, a nonprofit that supports youth in the D.C. area and additional cities across the country with paid internships, training and mentorship. For many young people, Urban Alliance opens a door for them to gain employment experience that is vital for them to develop a trajectory for success.

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