Lessons for Employer-School Partnerships to Provide Meaningful Youth Employment Opportunities

Research BriefYouth & Young AdultsDec 21 2022

Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP) is a philanthropic organization that utilizes the venture capital model of investing to assist and partner with nonprofits in the Greater Washington, DC region.[1] In 2010, VPP created the youthCONNECT Network in the Washington metropolitan area—an effort to bring together high-performing nonprofit organizations to better the educational achievement, career outcomes, and healthy behaviors of youth ages 14 to 24.1 In 2015, VPP added youthCONNECT to Ready for Work, its initiative to promote career- and college-readiness among high school students in Prince George’s County, Maryland.


Ready for Work—a collaboration between VPP, Prince George’s County, and five local nonprofit organizations—was a three-pronged strategy to improve student outcomes in three Prince George’s County high schools: Suitland High School, High Point High School, and Oxon Hill High School.  The three Ready for Work strategies are as follows:

  1. Strengthen career and technical education programs.
  2. Expand VPP’s youthCONNECT model.
  3. Provide students with meaningful work experiences.

This brief is one of five products that summarize key findings from Child Trends’ implementation evaluation of the three Ready for Work strategies. Here, we present lessons learned related to the third strategy—providing students with real work experiences—and explore the role that employer partners play in implementing this focal area.

The information in this brief will be especially useful for employers looking to increase and improve their youth employment opportunities by partnering with schools or youth-centered organizations like VPP. Since the onset of Child Trends’ implementation evaluation of the Ready for Work initiative, a global pandemic, COVID-19, changed the landscape of school learning environments and employment opportunities available to youth in the US. Despite this, the lessons learned from Ready for Work about how to effectively engage youth and partner with schools remain relevant for employers who would like to diversity their talent pool by providing local students with employment and professional development opportunities. For this brief, we incorporated input about the Ready for Work initiative from staff at Kaiser Permanente and Industrial Bank (two of the initiative’s main employer partners), the Prince George’s County Youth@Work/Summer Youth Enrichment Program, and Venture Philanthropy Partners.

In sum, we identified five main takeaways from Ready for Work’s employer partnerships:

  1. The success of employer-school partnerships relies on clear communication and a shared understanding of partnership goals and roles.
  2. Hiring youth can help employers build their talent pipeline.
  3. Employers have the flexibility to tailor their involvement with youth according to their goals and capacity for program engagement.
  4. Understanding the specific needs of high school students will help employers maximize youth employment opportunities.
  5. Data collection can inform and tailor internship experiences for both youth and employers.


[1] Investment Profile – Ready for Work. (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://www.vppartners.org/investments/ready-for-work/

Suggested Citation

Carney, M., Gilbertsen, J., Andrews, K., & Peckoo, S. (2022). Lessons for employer-school partnerships to provide meaningful youth employment opportunities. Child Trends. https://doi.org/10.56417/934t1514t