CityWorks DC is a non-profit venture incubated by CityBridge Education. Our work includes launching new and amplifying existing initiatives that reshape education-to-employment pathways in Washington, D.C. Our first initiative was CareerWise DC.
OUR MISSION: Reshape education-to-employment pathways in Washington, D.C. so that more young people are equipped with the “social mobility trifecta”— 1) paid, relevant work experience, 2) valuable certifications and credentials, and 3) a supportive professional network (i.e., social capital).
OUR VISION: Young people growing up in D.C. secure meaningful work that can support a family, build personal wealth, and drive economic growth in the region.
THE NEED: Washington, D.C. faces a pair of seemingly intractable problems. First, most young Washingtonians, especially those growing up in low-income households, have been shut out of the thriving local economy. We know, for example, that 81 percent of “good jobs” in D.C. require a postsecondary degree, and yet fewer than 20 percent of DC public high school graduates currently complete college within 6 years. As a result, young people growing up in DC are unable to access the tens of thousands of high-wage, high-demand jobs available in our booming regional economy.
Second, many regional businesses increasingly are hurting for talent. Hard-to-fill positions remain open for months. Lacking a local talent pipeline, companies turn to import talent from outside D.C. Employers, as a result, are facing increased recruitment and retention costs. By recruiting only from traditional sources of talent (i.e., 4-year institutions), they’re also failing to build a diverse workforce.
We call this incongruity―where high-wage, high-demand jobs are plentiful, but local residents don’t secure them―the “D.C. paradox.” This status quo is costly for nearly everyone involved: for our young people, first and foremost, but also for employers, training providers, government and taxpayers, and society writ large.
OUR STARTING POINT: In Fall 2020, in collaboration with the Federal City Council, CityWorks DC launched CareerWise DC, a citywide, three-year youth apprenticeship program for D.C. high schoolers in high-wage, in-demand occupations―e.g., Information Technology, Business Operations, and Financial Services. We started with 15 youth apprentices in partnership with 4-6 employers and 4-7 high schools. This year’s cohort will have more than 30 apprentices!