Pathways to Prosperity NYC: Building a Thriving, Inclusive Economy Powered By Our Students is a public awareness campaign that brings together employers, schools, educators, young people and non-profits focused on improving racial equity and New York’s talent pipeline by strengthening career pathways for young people across New York City. An effective youth talent development system must work for all students, contribute to employers’ success, and benefit the regional economy. Our current system fails to do this, with young people of color disproportionately left behind. Through an integrated braided learning approach, educational institutions and employers share responsibility for talent development and students have multiple pathways to success.

The Problem

As New York City emerges from COVID-19, now is the moment to rebuild an economy that is stronger than it was before — an equitable, thriving economy that includes young people of color and is powered by local talent that our City has been missing out on. With new strategies to prepare New York City’s young people for meaningful careers and meet the changing needs of employers, we can drive economic growth, reduce inequality and create a vibrant economy that works for all New Yorkers. 

Our economy is based on the assumption that we do a good job matching talent to opportunity. We don’t—and the result is an economy that leaves young Black and Latinx New Yorkers behind and wastes talent and resources. Using innovative approaches to connect schooling and employment for our public high school and college students is a major lever in a citywide economic development strategy and essential to an inclusive recovery.

The Solution

Shift our youth talent development system from “learn then earn” to “learn and earn”.

We need a talent development system that better integrates education and employment, translating learning from work experience during high school and college into academic credentials and creating multiple pathways to career success for all young people.

A braided learning approach means educational institutions and employers share responsibility for fostering young people’s talent by pairing in-school curriculum with employment opportunities. Students do real work in the real world, and build on academic instruction to further develop their skills, interests and networks. Employers get to develop talent pipelines from under-represented communities. 

  1. For Students: Schools that partner on braided learning programs with organizations like HERE to HERE, Urban Assembly, ExpandED Schools, and New Visions for Public Schools report improved outcomes; New York City CTE high schools that use a WBL model have far better graduation outcomes for low-income Black and Latinx students. WBL has been shown to empower students who do go to college with a sense of direction about their future, give them real skills, and offer them opportunities to apply their activated skills and interests, and internships, not college majors, are more predictive of a student getting a job in that field.

  2. For Employers: Employers report that even college graduates are not presenting the core set of skills needed to succeed in the workplace. Through braided learning, they build up a pool of talent that is prepared to contribute and succeed on day one. Workplaces become more diverse and profitable, staff are less likely to turn over, and employers spend less on in-house training programs because entry-level staff are equipped with 21st century skills that match what employers need.

  3. For the Economy: Connecting education and employment builds on the City’s assets—a diverse labor market with employers of all types—to more efficiently develop a robust and nimble talent pipeline that can quickly adapt to a rapidly changing economy. It allows New York to better compete with states, like Texas, Delaware and Washington, and cities like Boston, New Orleans and Denver, who are ahead of the curve on developing homegrown youth talent.

How To Start

  • Enact Universal School-Connected SYEP: Every public high school student should have the option of a paid summer job that aligns with their skills and interests, created with the support of their schools. 
  • Expand credit for concurrent learning at CUNY: Most CUNY students work. Students should be able to get credit for those experiences and formal recognition of how much they learn on the job. The Bronx Recovery Corps at Lehman College is just one example of how schools and employers can work together to make this happen. 
  • Connect youth internships, apprenticeships, and other braided learning opportunities to City, State, and Federal economic development strategies and to opportunities offered to private companies. WBL opportunities should be part of any proposal that uses City funding or incentives. For example, City agency RFPs could give respondents bonus points based on the strength of their strategies to employ and train NYC DOE and CUNY students for promising careers, or requirements for paid internships and apprenticeships could be embedded in the City’s procurement policies.
  • Create a NYC Youth Corps. Leverage Federal and State stimulus funding to position youth talent development at the center of the City’s economic recovery and overall economic development strategy. The NYC Youth Corps could serve as an umbrella effort that makes sure existing and planned youth corps positions contribute to the City’s well being, provide transferable skills training, and position students for career as well as college success.

With these first steps, we can lay the foundation for a New York City where local talent drives our economy and powers our growth, and all young people have a shot at building careers and achieving their dreams.

Pathways to Prosperity NYC: Building a thriving, inclusive economy powered by our students