Exploring New Employment Pathways for Youth

In 1993, Juma’s founders saw a need among homeless youth in San Francisco and sought to fill it. They opened Juma’s first business, a Ben and Jerry’s Scoop Shop, where youth could work, earn income, and learn essential skills to move toward middle-wage careers. Since then the social enterprise has been at the epicenter of Juma, primarily focused on providing jobs in stadiums and entertainment venues across the country. Two years ago, we identified an opportunity to expand beyond stadiums and provide our youth with additional work opportunities – more shifts with greater variety. In light of the stadium closures this year due to the pandemic, our goal of expanding our work partnerships has become a priority.


Juma engaged Deloitte, a longtime supporter of the organization, to help us take a closer look at how we could set up our model for success. Together with Juma, Deloitte’s consultants sought to identify and pursue a set of diversified, sustainable partnerships that could provide stable, long-term employment for Juma youth. At the forefront of Deloitte and Juma’s work together was the goal of sustaining the quality of the Juma model. To position youth for success, we found it is important to ensure that Juma’s programmatic infrastructure can be embedded and incorporated into any new business opportunities. By partnering with Juma, employers stand to gain Juma’s expertise in hiring, training and retaining youth employees.


Four key themes emerged as Deloitte and Juma explored the elements to partnerships that could be beneficial for both employers and Juma youth.  These are: leniency and tolerance toward employees by the employer, ability to succeed in the job with an entry-level skill set, employers who can hire multiple Juma youth for a cohort experience, and employers with good reputations for prioritizing safety. A growth mindset, embodying tolerance of mistakes in which youth are given the opportunity to learn rather than punitive sanctions, is one of the keys to helping young people grow into responsible adults. A cohort experience gives youth the opportunity to learn from one another and support each other through first job experience. While Juma youth receive training from Juma in skills like teamwork, problem-solving, and time management, youth are still learning, making entry-level positions ideal for most of Juma’s young people. Above all, potential employers should offer a physically and mentally safe environment with reputable working conditions to protect the health of Juma youth.


Thus far, several industries have stood out as potential candidates for Juma partnerships. These include fields like shipping and delivery services, retail and groceries ranging from local grocery stores to warehouse stores and traditional retail environments, food service, particularly in the growing field of fast-casual dining, and other opportunities.


Given the times and urgency for opportunity, let’s look to ourselves to create an opportunity for disadvantaged youth and benefit our communities. While work is ongoing, Juma envisions a future in which young people coming through the YouthConnect program can choose from many different employment and education pathways to find one that works best for their personal interests, skills, and goals.  Connect with us to learn how Juma youth can add value to your organization and discover how you can benefit your local youth community.