New Profit Invests $1 Million in Learning and Career Skills Connector Urban Alliance
Urban Alliance provides high school students from underserved communities with access to opportunities needed to solidify lifelong economic self-sufficiency.
New Profit, a national venture philanthropy organization, announced that it will support Urban Alliance with $1 million in unrestricted funding and additional strategic support to help CEO Eshauna Smith and her team expand the organization’s impact.
Urban Alliance serves high school students who are on the cusp of transitioning to adulthood, but are at risk of becoming disconnected from pathways to economic self-sufficiency as a result of systemic barriers in our economic and workforce systems. Urban Alliance’s vision—a world in which economic advancement and prosperity are no longer predicated on an individual’s demographic or socioeconomic background—is pursued through their flagship High School Internship Program, which provides students with professional skills training, paid internships, and personalized mentorship. The organization has placed over 5,700 students in internships in professional settings such as law firms, banks, hospitals, and nonprofit organizations in Baltimore, Chicago, Washington, DC, Northern Virginia, and Detroit.
“At a moment when the devastating economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is intersecting with larger forces of automation and worker displacement rapidly brought on by the Future of Work, there has never been a more critical moment to invest in an organization like Urban Alliance, which is well positioned at the intersection of the education and employment sectors to drive meaningful employment outcomes for thousands of young people in cities across the country,” said Kevin Greer, Partner at New Profit.
Research shows that introducing youth to employment helps high school students from underserved communities avoid disconnection from future education and employment. Early access to job training and networking can help students persist in their college and career journeys. Urban Alliance’s own data backs this up: 100% of Urban Alliance students graduated from high school, and over 80% of all program alumni enrolled in a two- or four-year college. Additionally, 80% of program alumni remain “connected” to an economically-mobile pathway – including college, employment, or a career training program – one year after completing Urban Alliance.
“Youth from underserved communities are fighting on two fronts right now: against a pandemic disproportionately affecting their communities and against a system that was never built to work for them,” said Eshauna Smith, CEO of Urban Alliance. “More than ever, these young people need access to the kinds of training, paid work experience, and social capital needed to connect to successful pathways after high school. New Profit’s support will be instrumental in helping Urban Alliance provide these critical supports to thousands of youth over the next four years.”
In 2013, Smith joined Urban Alliance as the organization’s first President, and the following year she was promoted to the organization’s national CEO. Under her leadership, Urban Alliance won one prestigious Department of Education i3 Award to expand their national impact.