Over the past two years, the pandemic has hit the U.S. Black community hard when compared to how many Americans fared over the same time period. Further, many Black-owned businesses often struggled to stay open without the possibility of receiving any assistance, thereby sending the message to Black Americans that they had to forge ahead on their own.
For Black youths who see this in their communities, while finding themselves denied the educational opportunities their peers in wealthier neighborhoods take for granted, their future prospects appear even more dire. That’s especially when looking at the U.S. unemployment rate by race, a percentage that has been stubbornly far higher overall for Black Americans than whites and Hispanics.
The long-term results of this disparity include the ongoing wealth gaps between white and Black households. Depending on the source, the median wealth of white families has approached $200,000 while the data suggest Black families’ median total wealth is less than $25,000.
Federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Labor have recently announced more funding designed to serve youth who haven’t been shown doors that could open for better opportunities in both education and employment. Clearly, however, more can and should be done on this front.
For many, the intuitive solution that comes to mind is simply “get a college degree.” Nevertheless, the cost of higher education is out of reach for many families. To that end, if the private sector wants to ensure that it will always have a reliable pipeline of talent, then it needs to do its part.
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One coalition, a partnership between Grads of Life and OneTen, believes it has a solution.
Grads of Life is a nonprofit with a staff determined to eliminate any divides between employers and all qualified job applicants. Its approach is to work with companies in order to secure equity in employment by launching DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) strategies that can both improve lives and generate tangible benefits for businesses.
OneTen is focused on a similar mission, one that is centered on finding ways for Black Americans to become hired in jobs that can support a family. Such jobs, according to MIT’s Living Wage calculator, need to pay in the high $50,000 range to about $90,000 a year, depending on the location in the U.S.
Last week, Grads of Life announced it would accelerate its partnership with OneTen, with the goal to work with Black Americans who do not have a four-year degree. Their measure of success is to help provide 1 million Black youth and adults the tools during the following 10 years so that they can land jobs that pay well enough to support a family.
“We know that structural barriers call for structural solutions — and OneTen has responded overwhelmingly to this call,” Elyse Rosenblum, CEO of Grads of Life, said in an emailed statement. “It has been Grads of Life’s privilege to support OneTen and its more than 60 member companies and 250 executives. OneTen’s efforts have already led to more than 20,000 hires and increased access to economic opportunity and mobility for Black talent nationwide. We are excited to double down on this partnership in 2022, engaging employers in new markets and advancing the talent practices necessary for Black Americans to thrive.”
Companies that have so far lined up to participate in this initiative include Accenture, ADP, Caterpillar, Cisco, GM, HP, IBM, Target, Verizon and Whirlpool.
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