WASHINGTON, DC – Urban Alliance, a national youth workforce development organization, today announced the appointment of Elizabeth Lindsey, outgoing CEO of Byte Back, as the nonprofit’s incoming CEO. As CEO, Lindsey will steward Urban Alliance’s mission to build a more equitable next-generation workforce by providing critical work experience, skills training, and networks to youth with traditionally reduced access to these building blocks of economic opportunity.
“Urban Alliance is thrilled to welcome Elizabeth Lindsey as our new CEO,” said Mary Menell Zients, Board Chair and Co-Founder of Urban Alliance. “Elizabeth is a highly-regarded, passionate, and energetic leader whose deep commitment to and experience in expanding workforce opportunities for those with historically reduced access makes her ideal to lead Urban Alliance into its next chapter.”
Elizabeth brings nearly two decades of nonprofit and government experience in empowering individuals and communities to create positive change, most recently as CEO of the DC-based organization Byte Back. Under Elizabeth’s leadership, Byte Back expanded its inclusive tech training to Baltimore and built a national profile. Previously, as Chief Operating Officer of Groundswell, Lindsey oversaw the organization’s evolution from a community nonprofit into a nationally recognized social enterprise. Her leadership has gained national and regional recognition, including as one of The Root’s ‘100 Most Influential African Americans of 2019.’ Lindsey officially assumes the role of CEO on April 12, 2021, succeeding Eshauna Smith, who led the organization for seven years, including throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
“As a first-generation college student, I understand the value of connecting to economically-mobile pathways early, and have spent my career working to ensure that others have access to the same types of opportunities I have had,” said Lindsey. “I have long admired Urban Alliance’s work to develop young talent and connect youth to lifelong economic self-sufficiency. I’m excited to lead such a talented team dedicated to building better futures for all youth and to continue this critical work – especially now as youth are looking toward a more uncertain future than ever before.”
Urban Alliance’s signature High School Internship Program connects high school seniors from under-resourced communities in Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, and the greater Washington, DC region to upwardly-mobile career pathways through paid professional internships; job skills training grounded in the principles of social and emotional learning; one-on-one mentoring; and college and career-planning guidance. In recent years through programs including the Obama Youth Jobs Corps in partnership with the Obama Foundation, Urban Alliance has expanded its direct service work to reach students earlier in their high school experience and provide additional post-secondary pathways to economic mobility.
99% of Urban Alliance students are youth of color from low-income communities, and 80% of Urban Alliance students contribute a portion of their paycheck toward household expenses, serving as vital sources of income for their families. The COVID-19 pandemic has also disproportionately affected youth of color, with unemployment and disconnection rates far exceeding any other age group. Research has shown that early, paid work experience and well-designed workforce development is correlated with higher wages, faster job attainment, higher-quality jobs, and racial equity.
With 25 years of experience, Urban Alliance has a long track record of success. 100% of Urban Alliance students graduate from high school, 90% enroll in college, 80% persist to a second year, and 80% remain connected to a pathway toward economic self-sufficiency. An independent randomized controlled trial also found that completing the High School Internship Program has a statistically significant impact upon male college enrollment, mid-GPA student college attendance, and soft skills growth and retention.