Citi helps hone young minds
Foundation is also supporting projects that help to inspire youth to build their leadership skills
The Citi Foundation invests in ideas and solutions to address complex social and economic challenges around the world. One of its priorities right now is supporting innovative ways to train young people for employment and help them build an entrepreneurial mindset by using i nternet technology.
“Young people are increasingly more mobile than ever and are also i ncreasingly more connected through technology,” said Brandee McHale, president of the Citi Foundation.
“I’m fascinated by the way that young people use technology to support one another, to share messages and their stories. One person hears someone else did it, he or she thinks: ‘Well, I identify with them.’ So technology not only delivers skills training but a community of support,” she said during a recent visit to Beijing.
As the mother of three teenage children who prefer texting her rather than talking to her, she asked: “If this is how young people communicate, why not build structured online mentoring programs that are powered by technology?”
The foundation has been testing online mentoring in the US, with the employees of Citigroup Inc serving as mentors. She sees the effort as one of the opportunity areas in China.
“In 2017, our youth economic development i nitiative is going to be a big focus for us globally. Here in China, connecting young people to employment is a public policy priority and a huge issue facing the country,” she said.
Pathways to Progress, a flagship initiative of the foundation, is designed to prepare young people for a 21st century workforce.
Apart from training people for specific skills in specific sectors, t he foundation is also supporting programs that help to inspire young people to believe i n their future and help them build the leadership skills, the communication skills, the problem-solving skills and the ability to work in teams that every employer is looking for.
“What we’re finding is a big shift in the way employers are recruiting these days … They are looking for people who have the sort of entrepreneurial mindset that they walk in the door with a sense of optimism and enthusiasm about their future,” she said.
In China, the Citi Foundation’s two nonprofit partners in the field of youth econom- ic opportunities, Leping Foundation and BN Vocational School, have been working with stakeholders to support disadvantaged youth who have migrated to cities.
Both partners have pioneered and i nnovated i n ways to modernize training and support for youth. For instance, employing the fastgrowing population of online and new media portals to transform traditional training into online modules or to reach more young people in need.
“Our partners like Leping and BN Vocational School aren’t j ust l ooking at the completion of training as the finish line. They are looking at what other support young people need in order to be successful to get a job, hold onto that job and then progress throughout their career. We’ve been sharing the experiences of our partners here in China in all the 80 plus countries where we have grant-making operations,” McHale said.
In addition to investing in nonprofit innovators, the foundation will support more research activities that help shed light on what is happening and support forums that bring together stakeholders to share ideas.
A Citi volunteer and a student from BN Vocational School in Beijing make hand-painted bags during Citi’s Global Community Day.