Unprecedented partnership will prepare local youth for college and careers while boosting the workforce.
Today, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg announced the official launch of Thousand Strong, the Mayor’s bold workforce development initiative that brings together school districts, high schools, community based organizations, state and local funding partners, students, and businesses to provide year round paid internships for local youth while fostering a highly trained and diversified workforce for Sacramento businesses.
Thousand Strong matches students with businesses for a year-round, paid internship and then readies those interns for success on the job. Unlike most high school internship programs, Thousand Strong provides 40 hours of workplace skills training at no cost to the employer, before a student begins their internship. The workplace skills training will be provided by local community organizations. By hiring an intern, businesses will ensure that the future labor pool will be skilled and experienced, benefiting both Sacramento businesses and communities.
The name of the program refers to the Mayor’s ambitious goal to create a wide-spread program that is aiming for 1,000 internships a year. By aiming big versus starting a small pilot, the goal is to make the practice of Sacramento’s youth participating in a year-round, paid internship a systemic change that will have impact on Sacramento’s prosperity now and in the future.
“This is not another program,” said Mayor Steinberg. “It is the way we intend to do business in our city. We don’t run the schools, nor do we run a business – we are the link to ensure that our kids are first in line for the jobs in Sacramento’s new economy.”
The initiative launches a community effort with strong momentum and wide-spread support from the California State Employment Training Panel, Sacramento Employment and Training Agency – Sacramento Works, the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce Foundation, other local community based organizations and businesses, and participation from Natomas, Twin Rivers, Sacramento City, and Elk Grove Unified School Districts.
To launch and run the initiative, Steinberg hired a new Director of Workforce Development, Erica Kashiri. Kashiri was previously the director of policy and programs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Center for Education and Workforce in Washington, D.C. Kashiri underscored the real need for providing place-based learning opportunities for students citing Sacramento region as having one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the country and second highest in the state.
“We are seeing extremely high youth unemployment rates,” said Kashiri. “This initiative is focused on uplifting kids that might never get these kinds of opportunities, which is why we are providing every student with 40 hours of training before they even begin their internship to ensure they can be successful.”
Providing a paid internship experience levels the playing field for applicants from all walks of life to participate. Youth from lower income families often can’t sacrifice the time for unpaid internships because they are under pressure to provide for their families. Thousand Strong is inclusive of all interested students, regardless of background.
“We are very proud to be partners in this program, along with the many other community organizations that are participating. Community organizations play a critical bridge role in supporting students at the workplace so that they – and their employers – can have a successful experience,” says Rachel Rios, Executive Director of La Familia Counseling Center.
Business associations are working with employers of all sizes from small local business to major global companies to hire at least one intern who will start their internship this summer. “Arden Fair Mall applauds and is committed to Mayor Steinberg’s effort to improve the prosperity of Sacramento by investing in the development of the talents of our youth,” says Tod Strain, Senior Property Manager at Arden Fair Mall.