Corporate Voices and a number of our partner companies played a key role in a White House event  held January 5 to launch the Summer Jobs Plus Initiative.

“Corporate Voices for Working Families supports the Obama administration in launching the Summer Jobs Plus initiative, which recognizes that there are a number of ways that employers can provide pathways to success for our nation’s low-income young adults, including Life Skills, Work Skills and Learn and Earn initiatives along with summer jobs,” said Stephen M. Wing, who represented Corporate Voices.

Wing made his remarks as part of the White House Summer Jobs Plus Summit. He participated on a panel that explored the moral imperative, economic need and potential value of connecting low-income and disconnected youth to employment opportunities, both in the short and long term. The panel, titled “The Case for Summer Jobs+ 2012,” consisted of Alan Krueger, Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers; Alma Powell, America’s Promise Alliance; James White, CEO, Jamba Juice; R.T. Rybak, Mayor, Minneapolis, MN; Janet Murguia, President and CEO, National Council of La Raza; and John Bridgeland, CEO, Civic Enterprises/ White House Council for Community Solutions.

The event marked the launch of President Obama’s challenge to businesses to commit to provide low-income youth with summer employment and other pathways to success. Recognizing that in a difficult economy not every business is in a position to hire, the administration’s new Summer Jobs Plus initiative will support not only businesses that hire youth, but also those companies that provide additional pathways for youth, such as internships, mentoring and other programs.  Summer Jobs Plus identifies three key ways for companies to help connect youth to a better future while simultaneously deriving benefits for their businesses, such as increased employee engagement, customer loyalty and employee retention.

Businesses can accept the president’s challenge and make a “Pathways Pledge” by choosing at least one of the following three pathways to employment for low-income youth: Life Skills, Work Skills and Learn and Earn.

Corporate Voices’ Senior Workforce Readiness Consultant, Elyse Rosenblum, served as a content expert at one of the featured breakout sessions: “Creating Pathways to Employment for Youth.

“More than five million young people in the United States are disconnected from education and employment,” Rosenblum said. “Corporate Voices is encouraged that the Obama administration has brought together leaders from the public and private sectors to find solutions that will enable young people to succeed, help employers tap new sources of skilled talent and strengthen our nation’s economic prosperity.”

A number of businesses committed to providing our nation’s young adults with jobs, internships and other pathways to opportunity, including the following Corporate Voices’ partner companies: Bank of America, Baxter International, Inc., CVS Caremark, Deloitte, Goodwill Industries International, H-E-B, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo.

Over the last five years, Corporate Voices, in partnership with the New Options Project, and with support from the WK Kellogg Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has been deeply focused on ways companies can provide low-income young adults with pathways to employment and education.

Most recently, Corporate Voices has worked with Gap Inc. and McKinsey by providing content and information for a toolkit being released today by the Corporation for National Service. The toolkit provides employers with a roadmap for how they can use different strategies, such as Life Skills, Work Skills and Learn and Earn initiatives to provide opportunities to America’s young adults. The toolkit entitled “A Toolkit for Employers: Connecting Youth & Business” is available at no cost and can be accessed here