The combination of the entertainment industry, technology innovation, robust manufacturing and being one of the most productive agricultural environments in the world has made California the wealthiest state in the country. And yet, in Sacramento, tens of thousands of 16- to -24-year-oldsfootnote1 are unemployed or not enrolled in school. The nonprofit organization Juma understands the importance of building experience in the workforce as the first step in developing a long-term career. Juma’s YouthConnect program works to place individuals in entry-level positions and then offers skills training, money management classes and career coaching — all with the goal of giving its participants the confidence to set and pursue their own professional pathways.
This learn-by-doing approach is made possible by the nonprofit’s social enterprise, a line of concession stands at sports and entertainment venues. In Sacramento that means service industry jobs at the Golden 1 Center, home of the National Basketball Association’s Sacramento Kings, as well as three other facilities. Juma staffs its concessions with young men and women from low-income neighborhoods, offering them both a salary and an environment of continuous learning.
Funding from Bank of America, part of the bank’s $1.25 billion, five-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity, helps YouthConnect continue to serve disadvantaged young people in the Sacramento area. And, with an eye on continuing to provide opportunity to vulnerable populations, funding from partners like Bank of America will help Juma, which operates in six cities across the country, scale its critical services nationally.