Putting Youth First for 30 Years and Beyond

Since Juma’s founding in 1993, we’ve believed in the power of work and the potential of young people. As we celebrate thirty years of unlocking youth potential, we’re also looking to the next phase of Juma’s impact. Throughout our history, we’ve fostered a culture of data-driven innovation, reviewing our strategic priorities every three to five years. Juma is committed to being a learning organization, constantly testing the bounds of our model and theory of change. As we look to our next milestones, we’re asking ourselves questions such as: what does expansion look like? and how can we deepen our services? To answer those questions, we were funded to work with two independent consults: Project Evident and Venture Leadership Consulting (VLC). 

Together, Project Evident and VLC have led the process of creating a roadmap to guide Juma through the next three years and beyond. This work resulted in the creation of two frameworks through which to view our next stage of growth. Project Evident’s findings will inform program decisions and capacity building. Their learning agenda—a map of what we want to learn and how to capture those learnings—will guide our work to strengthen our program and enhance our ability to meet evolving youth needs. Guided by the Project Evident plan, we will utilize VLC’s findings to identify and implement sustainable growth.  

Informed by these learnings, we have implemented some changes to our current model beginning with the addition of new personnel roles. First, two new case managers have hit the ground running, providing youth with individualized attention to help them overcome barriers such as unstable housing, enrollment in the foster care system, and history with the juvenile or criminal justice systems. In addition, our new education coordinator is working with individual youth to help them achieve their education goals, guiding them through every stage of the college application process, from choosing a school to seeking scholarships and financial aid. 

Furthermore, our work with VLC established a blueprint for both sustainable current sites and viable future sites. After applying this tool to our current sites, we made the difficult but necessary decision to suspend operations in Houston and Atlanta. This decision considered our priority to deliver our model with full fidelity for maximum impact as well as the reality of the post-COVID entry-level job market in those cities.

Operations within our remaining footprint – Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle – offer the best opportunity to deliver our full model and build our evidence base. Though this decision was difficult, our transition prioritized youth support as we anchored on our value of Youth First, offering youth in Houston and Atlanta support in moving to a direct role at the stadium where they were employed with Juma or assistance in taking their next step forward toward other opportunities.

In our thirty-year history, over 10,000 young people have earned, learned, and connected to resources and opportunities. We have helped them unlock their potential and launched them on to the next phase of their lives and careers. In 30 years, Juma’s constant is our commitment to youth. This commitment has sustained us from our first ever Ben and Jerry’s Scoop Shop in San Francisco’s Mission district to ballparks across America; from serving hotdogs in the stands to opening Steep, our brick-and-mortar boba tea shop. With enormous gratitude to our partners and communities who make this work possible, as well as to the Juma youth who trust us with their goals and dreams, we look forward to a future serving more young people, creating additional opportunities, and contributing to a job market that is inclusive, equitable, and diverse.