Seattle companies launch programs to help youth

Michelle Li reports.

There is a new trend this summer among several Seattle companies that will impact disconnected youth - people who are not in school nor working.

It's called impact hiring, and companies like MOD Pizza, Nordstrom and T-Mobile are launching pilot programs this summer to help reconnect those young people with jobs.

If you ask any of those involved, they'll tell you it's about more than just feeling good. According to FSG, a Seattle-based consulting firm that connects nonprofit organizations and businesses, there are about 45,000 disconnected young people in the Seattle metro. Disconnected youth will earn 44 percent less income during their lifetime, and the public cost is about $170,000 over their lifetime as well.

"Companies are looking at talent very differently," says Nicole Trimble, executive director of the Impact Hiring Initiative at FSG. "They're opening their view about who talent is, and where to find talent."

MOD Pizza is a pioneer in impact hiring. A few years ago the company started making an effort to hire ex-convicts in its 220 stores around the country. CEO Ally Svenson says it was a hiring risk worth taking.

"They had the strongest work ethic," said Svenson. "They were so deeply engaged, they had such a sense of gratitude for the job opportunity they had been given. What they gave back to MOD was incredible, and we looked at that and realized that is what the world needs more of. If we can help provide those opportunities to more people, that's the business we want to build."

MOD is launching a pilot program this summer to help reconnect youth to the job force. These are people aged 16 to 24 who are not working and are not in school. Though the program is in full swing in all of its stores, actual data is being collected from one of its stores in California.

One of the best business values in impact hiring is retention, says Trimble.

"When given a little bit of investment, support, and mentorship, they stay longer," said Trimble. "We're getting calls from companies all around the world who are looking to change their HR practices, how they hire, and how they advance people."

One MOD employee says he's excited about the youth program because the company has already helped him in other ways.

"I got in trouble a while ago," said Ryan Townsend, MOD shift leader. "It was hard to get a job, but these guys gave me the opportunity to work. And they're letting me move up in the company. Not a lot of companies let you do that."

© 2017 KING-TV


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