Building New Career Pathways

Former homeless teens engaging in workforce development | Covenant House

At least 50 young residents of Covenant House New York will soon be on their way to achieving professional training to enter careers in three burgeoning fields, thanks to the support of the Heckscher Foundation for Children and commitments from some of our most dedicated corporate partners. 

CHNY was among just 20 organizations this year to win part of a total of $7.6 million in grants from an initiative Heckscher calls the Heckscher Foundation Challenge. The challenge is to change up traditional job placement models for young people facing homelessness and other youth, and replace them with a guaranteed pathway to success via commitments for specific positions by identified employers. 

“We are thrilled that Covenant House joined our challenge and is helping to change the paradigm of traditional workforce programs,” Nessia Sloane Kushner, Heckscher’s director of strategy, wrote in an email. “Covenant House has secured commitments from an impressive group of employer partners to offer full-time employment to the under-resourced, homeless youth it serves, based on objective criteria for hiring,” she said.

The Heckscher initiative perfectly intersects with and supports CHNY’s plan to build career pathways for our youth in the fields of administration, customer service, and maintenance. These career fields have all shown exceptional growth since the end of the COVID pandemic and are projected to continue growing.

Through our Career Pathways program, youth will receive robust training and take advantage of a direct pipeline to full-time employment in any one of these fields, in which our residents have shown persistent interest.

Even before youth enroll in a career pathways program, they’ll benefit from CHNY’s job readiness training to advance their success once they are employed. The training exposes youth to workplace norms, such as punctuality and timely and courteous communication, and to general job-performance expectations. Youth polish their resumes, hone interviewing skills, and gain confidence through mock interviews and career mapping exercises. 

Over the course of the two-year Heckscher Foundation Challenge grant, CHNY corporate partners Delta Air Lines, Hard Rock Cafe, and Rising Ground, among others, will stand ready to hire enthusiastic graduates of the program.

“We at Rising Ground are very excited about partnering with Covenant House New York to provide jobs for their Career Pathways graduates,” said Nancy Hruska, Rising Ground’s vice president of program development and strategic planning. 

“This is a win-win opportunity, in that young people moving out of homelessness will be able to work at a supportive, impactful organization, and we at Rising Ground will gain well-trained and highly motivated new employees,” she underscored.

Says Heckscher’s Nessia Sloane Kushner, “This is providing these young adults with clear paths to careers with upward mobility and financial stability, while also offering a critical solution to ongoing workforce shortages.”

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