To combat the employment crisis, JPMorgan Chase’s Fellowship Initiative expands its successful mentorship program

The finance giant is helping young men of color succeed in the 21st-century job market.

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JP Morgan Chase & Co. CEO Jaime Dimon meets with students from The Fellowship Initiative Los Angeles

Solving the skills gap problem for young men of color is the mission of JPMorgan Chase & Co’s The Fellowship Initiative (TFI) and its success is helping the program spread to a fourth American city.

On June 22, JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced that TFI, which offers entrepreneurial training and mentorship to high school aged boys in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, will launch in Dallas this year.

“I am pleased that JPMorgan Chase has chosen to expand its Fellowship Initiative to make a real difference in the lives of Dallas’ youth. There’s no doubt that we can do more when we work together and this powerful mentorship and fellowship program is a sensible solution to one of the most urgent social issues in our cities today, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said in a statement.

The three-year program is more than vocational training. It is an intensive program that offers a life-changing experience for its fellows. The program has sent students to South Africa and partnered with Outward Bound for its expertise in outdoor team-building exercises.

As well as learning the life skills necessary to enter the 21st-century job market, fellows can partake in SAT and ACT test preparation classes and experience the college lifestyle in TFI-sponsored trips.

117 TFI fellows donned their cap and gown at the conclusion of this past school year. It is a number which TFI seeks to increase after the class of 2020 recruitment began in May across its now four major metropolitan areas.

Not only did these young men complete a feat that can be out of reach for their peers, they will be accepted into a four-year college or university. In 2015, all fellows graduated and all received acceptance letters in the spring. The Class of 2017 can boast of the same 100 percent acceptance rate from 200 institutions of higher learning.

Since TFI’s pilot program began in New York City in 2010, it has been celebrated in each city it has started. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that TFI is helping his city realize its goal to make every child in its system “100 percent college-bound, 100 percent college-ready.”

“Having a mentor that unlocks their potential and unleashes their talents in a constructive safe environment is the strongest tool there is for transforming lives. These opportunities not only benefit the young people who take advantage of them, they benefit our whole society, because when one young person succeeds in life, it is a win for our country,” Emanuel said.

TFI is one way JPMorgan & Chase is addressing the social issue of the employment crisis with its $350 million investment in this and other programs worldwide.

In an interview and article for LinkedIn on June 26, JPMorgan & Chase CEO Jaime Dimon (and LinkedIn “Influencer”) explained the moral imperative for his company to produce solutions to this growing dilemma, which he also called an “economic crisis.”

“Too many young people leave high school without clear pathways to a successful future. We must make it a national priority to help prepare young people to be both personally and professionally successful – especially those who are traditionally overlooked,” Dimon wrote.

For example, to meet the increasing demand for more “middle-skilled” trained workers– jobs where prospective workers are required to have more than a high school degree, but not a four-year college degree- Dimon said that his company has invested in quality summer job training programs, which keep students learning and engaged year-round.

Receiving on-the-job training in growth industries like health care is more valuable than low-skilled employment in the retail industry (a typical haven for teenage workers), which is quickly seeing its own employment shock and will be surpassed by health care jobs by 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Tackling the problem of the skills gap requires comprehensive approach to education and forging more public-private partnerships. With TFI and the $75 million New Skills for Youth initiative to eliminate teen unemployment, Dimon wrote that JP Morgan Chase is a leader in helping young people graduate high school prepared to enter the global job market.

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