Corporate Sponsor Spotlight: Gap Inc.

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At The Children’s Aid Society’s Next Generation Center (NGC), youth who are in foster care or involved in the juvenile justice system have a chance to learn new skills, receive support and encouragement and build the confidence needed to overcome the challenges awaiting them in adulthood. According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), teen unemployment shot up to 40% after the recession began. The WSJ also reported that of the roughly 1,000 youth who age out of foster care each year, only about half find employment. Without the safety net of parents or other caregivers, many of these young people are alone when they try to enter the competitive job market.

Gap Inc., a leading global specialty retailer under the Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic brands, hires thousands of young people each year and has been instrumental in working with the staff and teens at NGC to provide much-needed job readiness training and self-confidence building activities. Gap Foundation has supported The Children’s Aid Society (CAS) since 2000.

In addition to contributing funding for the NGC’s Employment Training Program and offering in-kind contributions in the form of work attire for young people, Gap Inc. provides job-readiness training and education giving NGC teens unique opportunities to learn about the retail industry. Employees from local Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic stores have partnered with NGC teens on community service projects, offered behind-the-scenes tours of stores and served as guest speakers. And through the Gap Inc. Leadership Initiatives, CAS and NGC managers have received leadership training and capacity building support modeled on the company's own executive development program.

CAS and Gap Inc. have collaborated on important initiatives. Gail Gershon, senior director of employee engagement and service leadership at Gap Inc., participated in Children’s Aid’s recent policy forum, where she provided insights on how to best prepare youth in foster care for life as independent adults. In return, CAS's Rich Buery, Bill Weisberg and Greg Morris offered their expertise by reviewing A Toolkit For Employers: Connecting Youth & Business. This toolkit, developed by Gap Inc. in partnership with McKinsey & Company, Corporate Voices for Working Families and the Taproot Foundation, supports the work of the White House Council for Community Solutions.

Gap Inc.’s commitment to serving disconnected youth epitomizes the best kind of corporate partnership. Youth, families and the community at large benefit from the intensive support that Gap Inc. provides. And as young people begin to age out of the system, the company’s brands help young people enter the workforce at a critical time.