Our WorkInitiatives U.S. Youth Employment

U.S. Youth Employment

Engaging employers to increase job opportunities for the next generation of U.S. workers.


While overall unemployment levels have decreased over the past several years, economic opportunity has remained stubbornly out of reach for some. The unemployment rate for younger workers remains more than double the national average.

More troubling still, there are nearly six million opportunity youth in this country—chronically disconnected young people ages of 16-24 who are neither in school nor working. For these young people, failure to gain an early foothold in the labor market can translate to a lifetime of lower earnings, family and community instability, and a host of other challenges.

These challenges jeopardize the lives and livelihoods of young Americans and put the social and economic future of an entire generation—and the nation as a whole—on the line.

Our Strategy

The Rockefeller Foundation’s U.S. Youth Employment initiative seeks to create a more inclusive economy that employs more opportunity youth in career-building jobs. For the last four years, the Foundation and its grantees have collaborated with some of the nation’s largest and most progressive employers and leading community-based organizations to develop “impact hiring.”

Impact hiring provides employers with new approaches to talent practices—specifically related to recruitment, assessment, and support—that address their entry-level talent challenges while simultaneously improving employment outcomes for those facing barriers to opportunity, including opportunity youth, veterans, and refugees.

Addressing the youth employment crisis at scale requires greater collaboration across sectors, efforts to ensure that young people are being connected to jobs and that these jobs are a good match, and support services to position young workers for on-the-job success. Forums such as the 100,000 Opportunities Coalition and the White House First Job Compact are already generating momentum behind these ideas, engaging dozens of leading companies who have committed to make a difference by driving both business and social value.

By helping young people access stable employment and careers, we can improve their chances of leading healthy and productive lives, while building a stronger and more inclusive workforce—a critical part of ensuring the long-term success of the U.S. economy and our communities nationwide.

Featured Insight

See All »

Inclusive Economies

What's next for the future of work?

Filter by

  • All
  • Stories
  • Reports