Investment Profile

Ready for Work

Champions for Career- and College-Ready Graduates in Prince George’s County

Our Challenge

Many students are leaving high school not fully prepared for employment and college, while local businesses struggle to hire and retain qualified employees. The heart of the issue is that our youth need to reach their full potential and our businesses need to fill positions with talented and skilled employees.

Quick Facts

  • According to a Job Opportunities Task Force Special Report, only one-quarter of young people (ages 16-19) in Prince George’s County are employed, compared to over one-third of young people statewide.
  • In Prince George’s County, nearly one-quarter of high school students drop out and do not receive a diploma.
  • According to the Center on Education and the Workforce, by 2020, 65 percent of all jobs in the economy will require postsecondary education training beyond high school.

Our Response

VPP’s high-engagement investment style blends a private equity model for investing with time-proven best practices from foundations and nonprofits. This allows us to help create long-term systematic change. We are working in partnership with Prince George’s County administration, public schools, local business leaders, philanthropy and a number of nonprofit organizations to create a holistic, collaborative, and sustainable strategy.

Our Goal

By 2021, we anticipate that 2,775 students at Suitland, Oxon Hill, and High Point high schools will be career- and college-ready, with another 400 graduates in the pipeline every year thereafter.

Our Plan

A three-part strategy across three high schools: Suitland, Oxon Hill, and High Point.

I. Strengthen Career Academies

  • Partner with TFA-DC Region to improve academic achievement
  • Build capacity of career academies to enhance technical skill development and expand enrollment numbers so more students can graduate career- and college-ready

II. Expand youthCONNECT

Students must develop foundational life skills to transition into being successful adults. youthCONNECT is a group of high-performing nonprofits that collaborate with schools to improve students’ readiness for employment and post secondary education.

We are currently working with:

  • PeerForward–National Capital Region (formerly known as College Summit)
  • Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection
  • Maryland Multicultural Youth Center
  • Urban Alliance
  • Year Up-National Capital Region

The nonprofits we invest in have undergone a rigorous selection process, and they are the best at what they do. These nonprofits coach students on:

  • Developing career goals
  • Time management
  • Appropriate behaviors in the work environment
  • Applying to college and technical education programs

The Ready for Work Nonprofit Capacity Building Initiative

The Ready for Work Nonprofit Capacity Building Initiative, a partnership with the Prince George’s County Council, supports Strategy II by building the capacity of nonprofits based in Prince George’s County. This program strengthens selected nonprofits to become organizations that can collaborate to provide support that will help young people achieve their goals.

Through this initiative, four selected nonprofits will not only be provided with the support they need to become high-performing organizations, but will also have the opportunity to practice and strengthen their grant writing, grant management and report writing skills and capacities. The four selected nonprofits are:

Fair Chance, an experienced provider of nonprofit capacity building, will co-manage the initiative and work with the nonprofits to improve organizational outcomes.

As part of the program, each organization will compete for mini-grants that they can use over a three-year period to further enhance select organizational and programmatic capacities. There will also be a particular focus on strengthening the boards of the participating organizations.

By the end of the three-year period, participating nonprofits may be invited to begin serving students in the Ready for Work high schools.

Read the press release here and watch the Ready for Work Nonprofit Capacity Building Program Cohort 1 Graduation from March 18, 2021:

III. Provide Real Work Experiences

Students need real work experiences before they graduate. When young people get connected to meaningful job experiences at an early age, they are more likely to be employed and stay employed as adults. We are partnering with business leaders and employers to make certain the skills and competencies students are learning meet employer needs.

We’re partnering with Prince George’s County to provide real work experiences to prepare young people for careers. Watch this Comcast Newsmakers segment to learn more about our work.

The Power of Partnership

By working together—leveraging the resources of businesses, philanthropy, nonprofits, and government—our bold vision can be achieved. Preparing our youth to become the experienced talent needed for growing business opportunities in the County is a compelling investment—for our young people, the community and businesses. Collectively we can achieve far more than what any one of us can achieve on our own.

Our Funders

  • VPP investors and donors of the Capital Kids Portfolio
  • Prince George’s County Public School System
  • The Peterson Family Foundation
  • Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States
  • The Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation
  • The Economic Club of Washington, D.C.
  • Bank of America Private Bank