Urban Alliance, Martha’s Table team up to increase economic opportunity for southeast D.C. youth

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today two organizations with deep ties to southeast Washington, D.C. – Urban Alliance and Martha’s Table – joined forces to increase economic opportunity for youth in the District. With a long history of preparing young people for healthy, successful futures, the organizations are now teaming up to provide workforce readiness training to high school students in southeast D.C. over the next five years. The partnership will give students the skills, experience, and exposure needed to access and succeed in future work opportunities while preparing them for lifelong economic self-sufficiency.

Specifically, the Urban Alliance/Martha’s Table partnership will provide:

  • Five introductory workshops in the 9th grade year to introduce students to possible professional pathways (beginning in fall 2019);
  • Monthly workforce readiness training in the 10th grade year for students to lay the groundwork for professional skill development;
  • Weekly job skills training sessions in the 11th grade year, delving deeply into professional development, financial literacy, post-high-school planning, and increased exposure to the professional world; and
  • 9-month, paid, professional internships in the 12th grade year through Urban Alliance’s flagship High School Internship Program, which combines work experience with additional job skills training, one-on-one mentoring, and comprehensive support services during and after the internship.

Urban Alliance began providing meaningful paid internships in 1996 to Anacostia High School seniors, and has since expanded to serve students across the city, as well as in Baltimore, Chicago, and Northern Virginia. 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 low-income students in the city’s most vulnerable communities.

After successfully piloting and fine-tuning similar early workforce development programs in Northern Virginia and the South Side of Chicago, Urban Alliance joined forces with Martha’s Table – a leader in the community who has hosted Urban Alliance interns since 2011 – to launch the organization’s most expansive early training program to date, working with high school freshmen for the first time in Urban Alliance history. In June 2018, Martha’s Table opened their new headquarters in Ward 8, The Commons, where they will host all Urban Alliance training workshops throughout this partnership. Additionally, the organization will continue to take interns, and help to connect students to meaningful work opportunities with partner organizations.

“Urban Alliance is thrilled to strengthen our commitment to the place where our mission first started 22 years ago through this expanded partnership with an organization so deeply entrenched in the local community,” said Eshauna Smith, CEO of Urban Alliance. “Through early access to job skills training and real, professional work experience, even more young people in southeast D.C. will be set firmly on a path toward lifelong economic self-sufficiency, lifting up not only our youth, but our entire city as a result.”

“In listening to neighbors, partners and community leaders, the call for rich and meaningful work experience for older youth was top of mind,” said Patty Stonesifer, President and CEO of Martha’s Table. “Responding to that call, Martha’s Table is excited to join with Urban Alliance in this deeper partnership for workforce development building on our shared commitment to young people in Wards 7 and 8 of D.C.”

With over 20 years of experience providing evidence-based workforce interventions to thousands of economically-disadvantaged students in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Northern Virginia, Urban Alliance has a proven track record of improving post-high school outcomes for underserved youth. A recent six-year randomized controlled trial found that completing the High School Internship Program had a statistically significant impact on young men attending college, mid-GPA students enrolling in four-year colleges, and students’ retention of professional soft skills. In Washington, D.C., over 85 percent of Urban Alliance alumni enroll in college, compared to 50 percent of D.C. Public Schools graduates, according to data from Raise D.C.