OUR NEW CEO
I’m pinching myself that I’m writing this letter as the CEO of Urban Alliance, an organization I’ve been enthralled with for years. I’ve always seen UA as a shining example of the impact a truly mission-driven, student-focused, evidence-based nonprofit could make. And as a Black woman, the daughter of two hard-working parents who struggled to make ends meet, and the first in my family to go to college, I’m personally honored to contribute to UA’s mission.
When I joined UA in April 2021, it was clear that the organization remained a beacon for young adults throughout a year of pandemic, tumult, and uncertainty. In the 2020-2021 program year, UA remained steadfast in their commitment to our students. We connected 475 young adults to paid internships – mostly virtual – creating an opportunity to build networks and gain work experience in once unfathomable circumstances.
Not only did UA maintain its core work thanks to our dedicated school, employer, philanthropic, and community partners, but we also successfully launched a new program training young talent for careers in the real estate industry, and a partnership that will enable UA to provide enhanced digital literacy training to all interns, ensuring these young adults have the critical skills needed to succeed in the 21st century economy.
Looking ahead, I’m even more excited about UA than ever. We’re building out pathways to careers in IT, real estate, and healthcare for all recent high school graduates, not just for those who are college-bound. We’re continuing to take a hard look at our language, branding, and programmatic components to ensure that race and equity are central to all we do. And we’re doing more to ensure that our alumni are connected to continued education and careers after high school.
Urban Alliance’s continued impact is thanks to all of you – our incredibly hard-working staff across the country, our Board of Directors who contribute invaluable insight and connections, our funders, our mentors, and our employer partners. I look forward to partnering with all of you as we enter UA’s 25th year of connecting young people to a better future for themselves and their communities.
At Urban Alliance, our mission is to bridge the opportunity gap for students by providing them with access to the training, work experience, and social capital needed to succeed in adulthood. Our core High School Internship Program is designed using the principles of social and emotional learning to develop these uniquely-human soft skills such as communication, adaptability and critical thinking through a workforce readiness framework.
80% of employers
say that social and emotional skills are the most important to career success (Aspen Institute).
connected to paid internships, mentors, and training through our core High School Internship Program.
participated in training opportunities or received workforce readiness curriculum through UA trained teachers.
reached with support services to address topics related to their post-high school employment, school, internship placement, and ongoing professional development needs including financial literacy training.
All program components including training, paid internships, case management, and mentoring activities were conducted remotely during 2020-2021 to protect the health and safety of our students, staff, and partners.
Interns demonstrated growth in key employability skills as a result of their Urban Alliance experience:
87% gained professional confidence
88% showed growth in adaptability
81% improved verbal communication
83% improved active listening skills
OUR NEW PROGRAMS
of property management interns were offered full-time or part-time employment at the end of the year.
UA launched a new Property Management Pathway in Washington, DC with the support of the Pension Real Estate Association Foundation and the Diane and Norman Bernstein Foundation and 18 property management employers. The pathway enables youth to develop the foundational skills and work experiences needed for careers in residential property management. Thirty-five students were served during the pilot year, receiving certification-based training and paid internships in leasing and maintenance roles. The program was featured in the Washington Post.
In 2021-2022, UA will grow the Property Management Pathway across Greater DC and replicate the program in Chicago and Baltimore, serving up to 70 young adults.
UA and NPower announced a new partnership with the support of Bank of America. Over the next three years, UA and NPower will provide 1500+ high school seniors with critical technology skills training. This training will be added to UA’s standard pre-work curriculum with all seniors receiving an additional 20 hours of digital literacy, and connection to more internships than UA has ever before offered in technology career fields.
This initiative empowers students of color to become economically self-sufficient after high school by connecting them with entry-level jobs in tech or tech-adjacent fields. The partnership was featured in Forbes.
206 young adults connected with paid internships across Washington, DC; Montgomery County and Prince George’s County, Maryland; and Arlington, Alexandria, and Fairfax, Virginia.
“The tools that were most important to me were the organization and communication lessons… in addition the lessons on how to write a professional email and how to conduct yourself while in a professional space were the highlights of the course,” Cameron Cary, UA Class of 2021 said. “Urban Alliance has put me in so many positions that have made my dreams seem more like a reality.”
82 young adults connected with paid internships
Entrepreneurship Pilot Highlight
The entrepreneurial spirit has long been shared among Baltimore youth. Among the young people UA serves, many join the program having already started a business. In response to student feedback, and supported by the Warnock Foundation and the Baltimore Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, UA Baltimore piloted a Business Services and Entrepreneurship Pathway during the 2020-2021 program year.
The Pathway provides specialized training in business and entrepreneurship, case management, and paid internships with local businesses to 10 high school seniors and continued professional development.
“Urban Alliance has taught me a lot about work skills and professionalism, but I believe its major impact on my life would have to be just genuinely preparing me for the real world.”
Cayla Moore, UA Class of 2021
50 J.P. Morgan Chase Volunteers helped UA Baltimore interns set up their LinkedIn profiles, getting them ready for the job market after they graduate high school.
66 young adults connected with paid internships
Urban Alliance and The Skillman Foundation hosted a webinar examining how youth workforce development is essential to building more diverse, equitable talent pipelines and sharing best practices from Detroit for effectively implementing this work.
In addition to UA CEO Elizabeth Lindsey and Detroit Executive Director Margrit Allen, the discussion panel featured Jayme Danzig, Director of Education and Employment, Rocket Community Fund; Benjamin Mathews, Business Planning Manager, Buick GMC; Stephanie Nixon, Chief Program Officer, Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation; and Maria Woodruff-Wright, Interim President and CEO, The Skillman Foundation.
”Becoming an intern for Rocket Mortgage was one of the best things that I could have done for my future. I gained knowledge in all aspects of marketing, work etiquette, ethics and so much more.”
Dah’Marria Reddic, Marketing Intern at Rocket Mortgage
”Our partnership with a workforce development organization like Urban Alliance made establishing and sustaining this talent pipeline easy.”
Dan Ngoyi, Vice President, Talent Acquisition, Rock Central
121 young adults connected with paid internships
Teacher Institute Highlight
With generous support from the Pritzker Foundation, UA created the Teacher Institute in 2020 to train Chicago Public Schools teachers in facilitating Urban Alliance’s core workforce readiness curriculum to build and reinforce students’ social and emotional skills, bringing this critical training to youth in their sophomore year.
“Any positive changes made in a sophomore’s high school attitude, engagement, and connectedness can truly set them in the right direction for the remainder of high school.”
Debra Koran, school counselor at Disney II Magnet High School.
Over the first two years, Urban Alliance expects to train 30 teachers and reach 1,800 youth through this expanded curriculum.
In the first year of the Teacher Institute, not only did the students respond well to the curriculum, attendance was 8% higher on average after students completed the curriculum, and was particularly engaging for Black and Latino boys.
Since 2013, Northern Trust has been a key partner for Urban Alliance in Chicago. They have opened the door to their downtown financial headquarters to 100 young adults from various communities in the city, providing money in their pockets, mentorship, and valuable connections within the financial industry
“Sinai Chicago is excited to continue this partnership with Urban Alliance thanks to Northern Trust’s sponsorship this year,” added Tondalaya Shepard, Volunteer and Community Service Director at Sinai Health System. “The interns bring a fresh perspective and new ideas. We appreciate the energy and enthusiasm that they show for new tasks and projects.”