McDonalds expands exciting youth work initiative

McDonald's expands exciting youth work initiative

 July 23, 2019

McDonald’s is helping young people overcome barriers and provide access to pre-employment opportunities through its Youth Opportunity pe-employment program which has expanded to Washington, D.C. and Prince George’s County, Maryland after wrapping up its pilot trial in Chicago.

Created in partnership between McDonald’s and the International Youth Foundation, the initiative aims to reduce the barriers to employment for two million young people by 2025 through pre-employment job readiness training, workplace development, and employment opportunities. 

Setting the global bar high to help 'opportunity youth'

“To reach our global goal, we set the bar high for the Youth Opportunity initiative pilot year,” said IYF’s President & CEO, Susan Reichle.

When the initiative launched, Thrive Chicago reported that there were more than 50,000 “opportunity youth” in Chicago - young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither enrolled in school nor participating in the labor market.

“At IYF, we know that all young people have potential. Often, all they need to transform their lives is to be connected with the right opportunities,” Mr Reichle added.

Exceeding expectations and tackling unemployment

The Chicago pilot exceeded expectations. IYF and McDonald’s partnered with four dedicated community-based organizations with deep regional roots and decades of experience serving young people and their communities: After School Matters, Central States SER, Phalanx Family Services, and Skills for Chicagoland’s Future.

All members of the Youth Opportunity initiative partnership contributed something essential to the mix. Tackling the youth unemployment challenge requires that corporations like McDonald's - possess the capacity for impact at scale - the charge.

Local organization partnerships are essential because they best understand the nuances of the local labor market, the dynamics of the local community, and the needs and aspirations of local young people. Before the pilot year even officially started, IYF and McDonald’s benefitted from the expertise of our community-based partners who informed the logistics of the pilot and helped map out the most critical areas of need - physical locations to the relevant market skills needed for success. 

Teaching skills which will help young people to thrive

Youth Opportunity participants are experts about what they need to thrive. Employers across the globe identify “life skills” as the skillset they most desire in employees—the ability to communicate, manage emotions, resolve conflict, problem solve, and work on a team, among other skills. These skills are useful across sectors, and at any stage on the employment journey. According to McDonald's local partners - and the young people they serve - the story is much the same in Chicago. As part of the Youth Opportunity initiative, young participants were trained for a minimum of 12 hours (and in some cases 24 and 36 hours) using PTS, IYF’s flagship life skills curriculum.

The Youth Opportunity initiative created opportunities for young people through skills training - and much more. In addition to pre-employment and life skills training, Youth Opportunity initiative participants gained access to a wide variety of employment-oriented events and activities. Many toured the McDonald’s Headquarters, received career advice during interactive panel presentations, visited McDonald’s restaurants to get a glimpse of what the quick-service industry looks like in action, and attended numerous hiring fairs where they received on-site prep and guidance before interviewing for a position.

Helping participants find work in McDonald's restaurants

Upon completion of the program, 150 young people were hired by McDonald’s restaurants, while many others secured employment elsewhere. Some, like Youth Opportunity participant, Bryan, are putting their skills to work as entrepreneurs. Bryan, who started a one-man landscaping business, aspires to expand his operations. “I’ve learned how to put myself in other people’s shoes, be compassionate and understanding, positive and productive,” Bryan said. He explained that these skills will be useful in dealing with customers, but also in engaging with employees that he may manage in the future.

As the Youth Opportunity pre-employment initiative expands our programmatic footprint, IYF and McDonald’s will begin knocking down barriers to opportunity in the Washington, DC-area with their new D.C. partners: 4-H, Latin American Youth Center, and LAYC Career Academy.

Reach your full potential with McDonald's

The Youth Opportunity program is just one of many McDonald’s initiatives that demonstrate how the company gives back to local communities and people. 

Learn more about McDonalds and apply for opportunities to kick-start your career.


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Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.

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