Teams from North Carolina, Florida, and Wisconsin Win National Challenge to Boost Youth Skills Development and Employment

The Global Business Coalition for Education (GBC-Education) is pleased to announce the winners and finalists from its first-ever “Big Ideas, Bright Cities Challenge.” The Challenge honors teams for their bold, innovative ideas that equip young people to participate in the workforce. Challenge winner Action Greensboro will receive $100,000 and be part of a network of changemakers working to boost youth skills development in cities across the country.

GBC-Education launched the Challenge to help solve an urgent problem: In the US, one in ten young people is not in school and not employed—a total of four million youth. These young people are badly needed in the workforce. The most recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed 11.3 million job openings—a near record high—with openings increasing in many sectors including service and manufacturing.

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“Cities and businesses across the country are struggling to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. They must attract young, diverse workers who are excited by the innovation and energy of urban centers,” said Justin van Fleet, Executive Director of GBC-Education. “To jump start these efforts, cities need to re-imagine how they can create ecosystems allowing young people to gain the skills they need for meaningful employment. That’s exactly what these winner and finalist teams have done and their ideas are tremendously inspiring.”

The Challenge lifts initiatives that focus on underserved youth. The winning Greensboro, NC program aims to link young people, including low-income and first-generation college students, with paid internships. The initiative, called “Campus Greensboro” will provide stipends for youth to work with minority- and women-owned businesses.

The second-place co-winning teams from Madison, WI and Orlando, FL will receive $10,000 each. Madison’s Sidekick Education designed a text-based chatbot service that acts as a career advisor for 4,000 low-income youth aged 16-24. The Orlando Community and Youth Trust’s Youth Employment Program (YEP) provides career guidance and preparation, job training, and job placement to youth between 15 and 25. Finalists include 12 other organizations from across the country. Together, the winners and finalists will form a nationwide community of practice of changemakers.

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