Frequently Asked Questions

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What is Urban Alliance?

Urban Alliance is building a diverse next-generation workforce by providing job skills training, mentoring, and paid internships to high school youth. Since 1996, we've provided over 6,000 internships to youth across greater Washington, DC (including Montgomery County and Prince George's County, MD, and Northern Virginia), Baltimore, Chicago, and Detroit.

We fight for equity by inspiring students to dream big and achieve economic mobility. Our work supports the development of diverse talent pipelines. ​

In partnership with over 200 employers, we level the playing field for young people in the workforce by equipping them with the tools to overcome the systemic barriers that prevent equal access to economic opportunity.

What should I know about becoming a job partner?

For over 20 years, Urban Alliance has worked with thousands of young people to achieve economic success in partnership the business community. Urban Alliance works to make the experience as easy, rewarding, and valuable to job partners as possible.

How it Works

UA provides:

  1. Five weeks of pre-employment training for youth in critical workplace skills such as professional communication, problem-solving, and time management
  2. On-going job and life skill development through weekly workshops
  3. Individual case management to ensure that youth and workplace mentors are supported every step of the way
  4. Mentor training and ongoing troubleshooting to ease the transition for both interns and employers
  5. Regular check-ins, evaluations, and site visits for real-time improvement throughout the year
  6. Public recognition of job partner investment

Job partner provides:

  1. A fee for service to cover intern salaries, case management support, and post-program services
  2. On-site, one-on-one team member (mentor) to supervise intern’s professional development
  3. Meaningful work and assignments
  4. Workplace accessible via public transportation


  • Interns work up to 600 hours over a 10-month period
    • October through mid-June: Interns work part-time (Mon-Thurs from 2-5 pm)
    • Mid-June through early-August: Interns work full-time (Mon-Thurs from 9 am to 5 pm)
  • September: Interns begin pre-work training
  • October: Mentor training & Internships begin
  • January & April: Site visits and evaluations
  • August: Internships end

Contact us to learn more becoming an Urban Alliance partner.

What can Urban Alliance do for high school seniors?

Urban Alliance's core High School Internship Program connects students with paid, professional internships, job skills training, one-on-one mentoring, and post-program support that lead toward economic success. 

Early access to job training, networks, and opportunities can help students connect in any pathway-- college, career, or vocational training. Urban Alliance's uniquely comprehensive approach exposes interns to new professional pathways, removes barriers to success, ensures long-term connections to the workforce. 


What is the history of Urban Alliance?

In 1996, a student at Anacostia Senior High School in Washington, DC said that what young people really needed to be successful were real, meaningful jobs. Urban Alliance founder Andrew Plepler, then an attorney for the U.S. Justice Department, listened, found that student an internship, and enlisted five of his friends to do the same for other students. That experience led to the creation of Urban Alliance.

Urban Alliance has since provided over 6,000 students with internships in professional settings such as law firms, banks, hospitals, and nonprofit organizations. The organization has also worked with over 21,000 students through curriculum outreach. With over 25 years of experience providing evidence-based workforce interventions to thousands of students in Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, and the Greater DC Region, Urban Alliance has a proven track record of improving post-high-school outcomes for young people.

Who participates in the Urban Alliance program?

Urban Alliance provides high school students with access to the training, paid work experience, professional development, and social capital needed to succeed in adulthood. 

Rising seniors are eligible to apply for Urban Alliance's High School Internship Program if they are a) students at a UA partner school, b) currently in their junior year of high school, c) on track to graduate with at least a 2.5 GPA, and d) authorized for an off-campus/early release schedule.

Learn more about our core High School Internship Program here. 

How do we know this program works?

Since 1996, Urban Alliance has partnered with over 500 businesses and 100 schools to provide over 6,000 young people with paid internships and another 21,000+ youth with professional development training. 100 percent of Urban Alliance students graduate from high school; over 90 percent are accepted to college. A further 80 percent of enrolled alumni persist to a second year in college, and 80 percent of all alumni are connected to a college, career, or career-training pathway one year post-program.

A recent six-year randomized controlled trial conducted by the Urban Institute found that completing Urban Alliance’s flagship High School Internship Program had a statistically significant impact on young men attending college (by 23 percentage points), mid-GPA students enrolling in four-year colleges (by 18 percentage points), and students’ retention of professional skills.

Which school districts has Urban Alliance partnered with?

Urban Alliance works with around 500 students annually in 10 school districts spanning five states and four major metropolitan regions: Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, and Greater Washington DC.

How can the business community help?

Local businesses can host Urban Alliance interns to increase their access to economic opportunity through critical early work experience. For over 25 years, Urban Alliance has connected thousands of young people to achieve economic success in partnership with businesses. Urban Alliance works to make the experience as easy, rewarding, and valuable to job partners as possible

Learn more about becoming a job partner by contacting us. 

Who can apply for OYJC?

Sophomores: Students are eligible to attend up to five workforce readiness training sessions during their sophomore year of high school if they attend one of our current partner schools on the South Side (Little Black Pearl, Hyde Park Academy, and Kenwood Academy). There is no additional criteria for 10th grade participants.

Juniors: Students are eligible for OYJC’s paid, weekly workforce readiness training program in their junior year of high school if they a) are students at our current partner schools on the South Side (Little Black Pearl, Hyde Park Academy, and Kenwood Academy), b) have at least a 2.5-3.5 GPA and a strong attendance record, c) are on track to graduate, and d) able to attend trainings two days/week (total of 3 hours/week).

Seniors: Students are eligible to apply for OYJC’s paid internships in their senior year of high school if they are a) students at a UA partner school, b) currently in their junior year of high school, c) on track to graduate in June 2019 with at least a 2.5 GPA, and d) authorized for an off-campus/early release schedule. (Note: Juniors already enrolled in OYJC are eligible for the senior-year program based on positive performance in OYJC and approval of the Program Manager.)

How is OYJC different from the services UA already provides in Chicago?

Since 2012, Urban Alliance has partnered with some of Chicago’s leading businesses to provide paid, professional internships to high school seniors through its signature High School Internship Program. The program provides: 1) six weeks of pre-employment professional development; 2) a 10-month, paid, professional internship; 3) weekly job and life skills training; 4) mentoring from two caring adults; and 5) ongoing post-program support.

OYJC starts the training process earlier, providing workforce readiness training beginning in students’ sophomore year of high school. It provides a more intensive professional development experience, more fully preparing students for both a senior-year internship and the workforce.

How can businesses become job partners for OYJC students?

Businesses interested in providing internships for OYJC students should contact the Urban Alliance team.

Why did UA decide to partner with the Obama Foundation?

Our goal is always to provide more students with access to economic opportunity. A partnership with the Obama Foundation is the best way to provide more young people with early, meaningful work experience and training. Our mission aligns perfectly with the Obama Foundation’s commitment to the local community, and their goal of equipping young leaders with the tools needed to create positive change in their communities.

How will OYJC directly impact the South Side community?

Young people on the South Side of Chicago lack the same opportunities as their counterparts in more affluent areas of the city. Jobs in Chicago are heavily concentrated in The Loop – the city’s central financial district – as well as in affluent suburbs in the North and West sides. A recent report found that jobs per community on the North Side range from 10,000 – 30,000 while no community further south than Hyde Park has more than 6,700 jobs. Thirteen South Side communities have fewer than half that number of jobs. OYJC will start young people on a path toward economic success early – training them in essential job skills, giving them early exposure to professional workplaces, and helping them plan for lifelong economic advancement.

In recent years, Urban Alliance has recognized the need to connect with youth earlier in their high school careers as part of a broader strategy to prevent disengagement from successful career or college pathways among communities that lack adequate resources. The most successful programs include paid, work-based learning; mentoring from an adult professional; youth-centered support, and at least one year of follow-up services. Few programs encompass all of these elements – but Urban Alliance provides the full complement.

OYJC will work with businesses throughout Chicago to encourage increased investment in the city’s youth. Increased economic opportunity on the South Side will help lift everyone – ensuring a strong, educated, diverse new generation of workers to fill the jobs of the future. OYJC will complement the jobs coming to the South Side as part of the new Obama Presidential Center by preparing the next generation of local talent to succeed in a 21st century workforce.

Why should your business become an OYJC job partner?

Bank of America, Hyatt, and KPMG signed on as signature job partners for Obama Youth Jobs Corps youth, and your company can join them.

Early employment is proven to change the life trajectories of young people at heightened risk of disconnection, increasing their desire to succeed in school and the workforce. Urban Alliance is the connection between students, schools, and employers to increase young people’s access to economic opportunity. Our public and private partners have leveraged their strategic partnerships with Urban Alliance to change the life trajectories of thousands of young people, while generating benefits for their businesses.

Through partnership, companies can:

  • Increase diversity of both personnel and thought
  • Meaningfully engage with the community
  • Establish a local talent pipeline
  • Boost employee morale and retention
  • Augment marketing through meaningful corporate social responsibility
  • Increase capacity and productivity through intern support without the added burden of creating an internal internship program structure
  • Provide emerging leaders with management experience by supervising interns