Grocery Industry Opens Doors for Foster Youth

On September 12, iFoster and the L.A. Opportunity Youth Collaborative (OYC) held a grocery industry job recruitment event with over 40 youth. Participants took a work readiness assessment, practiced interviewing and received professional clothes courtesy of Men’s Warehouse and Foster Care Counts. They also applied for jobs with Ralphs, Food 4 Less and Nabisco. They were supported by the Alliance NextStep team and volunteer interviewers recruited by the Alliance.

It was an exciting day to see so many foster youth on the road to quality jobs. This group of 40 youth is the first cohort in the iFoster Jobs Program in Los Angeles. The youth selected were referred through 10 OYC partners. Each one has a case manager who will act as Youth’s Job Coach for standard check-ins over the next six months.

Every year, 30,000 youth age out of foster care nationwide. These youth are often unprepared for the real world and end up unemployed, homeless or incarcerated.

The innovative public/private partnership of the iFoster Jobs Program helps solve this problem by securing entry‐level job and management career opportunities in the grocery industry for foster youth. From cashiers to stock clerks to merchandising assistants there are a wide variety of jobs with upward mobility. With hard work and effort youth can go from cashier to shift lead to manager.

The grocery industry is a $620 billion industry that has a median wage of $10.28 nationwide. Despite above minimum wage pay and potential for upward mobility, there is an incredibly high turnover rate of 70 percent.

Matching experienced youth with positions in the grocery industry helps resolve both challenges: foster youth obtain gainful employment and grocery companies have a dedicated and reliable employee.

With employment in the grocery industry, youth earn a livable wage through full‐time and part‐time employment with guaranteed minimum hours. They will also be able to fund college education with employer and industry association scholarships and tuition reimbursement.

iFoster had tremendous success in Placer County, CA and we are excited to see the results of the Los Angeles program. Applicants are currently being matched with employers and interviews are being conducted this month. We are looking forward to reporting back on these youth and their progress.

The Alliance is the backbone organization for the L.A. Opportunity Youth Collaborative, a collective impact project to help foster youth reach greater levels of achievement in college in career.