WorkingNation Overheard: Elizabeth Lindsey on work-based learning for high school seniors

Having access to a network is crucial for young people to gain economic mobility, according to Elizabeth Lindsey, CEO, Urban Alliance.

WorkingNation sat down with Lindsey at Presented by JFF Horizons – See Beyond 2022 in New Orleans.

Urban Alliance connects mostly high school seniors of color with paid work-based learning experiences. Lindsey says participants gain professional skills, development and mentorship. “We support them in moving onto a pathway into a great career, either through moving directly into college or directly into the workforce,” she says.

“We work with employers in all of our cities. Our employers are the key partners in our work. In each city we have signature partners like Bank of America, Rocket Mortgage, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. with whom we work and who provide these experiences for our young people,” says Lindsey.

She adds, “We also focus in on connecting high school seniors to careers in high-demand industries where there are many opportunities for folks without college degrees. Some of those industries include IT, health care and property management.”

Lindsey says the organization supports its students in building networks to help them as they navigate their career paths. “Social capital seems like it’s this buzzword, but it’s actually essential to the development and maintenance of any career. I know so many of us are in our current positions because someone recommended us or because we heard of an opportunity through a friend or a colleague. Many young adults of color, many young adults who are first generation college students or who will be – have no access to professional networks.”

Urban Alliance serves high school students in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Detroit, and Chicago. But Lindsey notes, “We very much want to expand into other cities. Right now, we’re planning and starting conversations in cities across the country. So, stay tuned.”