McDonald’s Youth Opportunity Program Engages Over 4,200 Chicago Youth 

Following Chicago pilot, McDonald’s aims to connect 1,000 DC-area youth to education, training and jobs  


After announcing the Youth Opportunity initiative last summer, McDonald’s exceeded its goal and provided life skills training to over 4,200 young people to help reconnect them back into the workforce and education pathways. The initiative seeks to reduce barriers to employment for two million young people by 2025 through pre-employment job readiness training, employment opportunities and workplace development.

Upon completion of the program, 71percent of youth reported being engaged in education or employment, and approximately 150 are now working for local franchisees. Of those hired at McDonald’s, many have gone on to take advantage of the Archways to Opportunity education program. This program provides eligible employees at participating U.S. restaurants an opportunity to earn a high school diploma, receive upfront college tuition assistance, access free education/career advising services and learn English as a second language. Since 2015, the Archways to Opportunity education program has increased access to education for over 38,500 people and awarded over $58 million in high school and college tuition assistance.

“As we seek to better serve our customers through technology and enhanced hospitality options, we are creating opportunity for different skillsets deployed in different ways in our restaurants,” said Melissa Kersey, chief people officer for McDonald’s USA. “Pre-employment programs coupled with our existing training and education programs can have a powerful and lasting impact on the quality of service McDonald’s customers ultimately experience, as well as benefitting the professional development and career progression of those who work in McDonald’s restaurants.”

McDonald’s Corporation and the International Youth Foundation (IYF) have expanded the program to Washington, D.C. and Prince George’s County in Maryland. Through a $200,000 investment, McDonald’s and local franchisees aim to support 1,000 area youth develop the competencies and the confidence employers are looking for in entry-level employees.

According to Measure of America, there are 63,900 young people in D.C. and surrounding areas that face barriers preventing them from working or going to school. To address some of the challenges youth in the area face, McDonald’s will partner with three local community based organizations, The Maryland 4-H Foundation, Latin American Youth Center and LAYC Career Academy to reach 1,000 young people in the area with the customized resources and relevant networks to connect their ambition with opportunity.

“Every day we see evidence that young people are our greatest resource and our greatest hope. Too often, though, they lack the opportunities needed to reach their full potential. At the International Youth Foundation, we know that pre-employment skills are a critical piece of the solution,” said Susan Reichle, president and chief executive officer of the International Youth Foundation. “We’re proud to be partnering with McDonald’s to

deliver the Youth Opportunity pre-employment initiative—first with a successful pilot year in Chicago reaching 4,200 young people, and now in the Washington, D.C. metro area. I’m confident that the benefits of this program will impact young people, their families and communities, and the cities where we live.”

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