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Raley's has joined nonprofit organization iFoster to develop a hiring program for foster youth, which so far has resulted in the placement of seven youths in Sacramento, Calif.-area Raley's stores. The partners' current goal is to expand the program, which marks the first such collaboration between the foster care system and the grocery industry, to the company's other stores.
The Foster Youth Hiring Program aims to find employment for foster youths who are close to "aging out" of the foster system. Within the first two to four years of leaving the system, an estimated 50 percent of these young adults are jobless, 70 percent are on public assistance and 50 percent will experience homelessness.
To try to forestall such grim outcomes, Lake Tahoe, Calif.-based iFoster identifies, screens and trains both the youth candidates and Raley’s associates to ensure a successful match.
"We are committed to helping our communities prosper," noted Mark Foley, SVP, human resources and labor relations at West Sacramento, Calif.-based Raley's. "Our partnership will help youths gain valuable work experience and the opportunity for employment advancement. We invite other companies to join Raley’s and iFoster in considering these incredible young people when making employment choices.
Added iFoster Executive Director Serita Cox, "Not only has Raley's hired our first cohort of youths, but they are providing invaluable guidance in developing the pre-employment curriculum and assessment to develop each youth's soft skills and job skills, as well as post-employment management support and trainings to give each of our youths the best chance to succeed and progress in their careers."
"The Jobs Program is a tremendous example of a strong and durable public-private partnership," observed Yali Lincroft, program officer at the San Francisco-based Walter S. Johnson Foundation, which is providing funding for the initiative. "This program leverages existing local work skills, development initiatives and foster youth transition services; and adds a critical new resource – the jobs our youth need to achieve independence.”
May is National Foster Care Month, a time set aside to honor foster parents, family members, volunteers, mentors, policymakers, child welfare professionals and other community members who make a meaningful difference in the lives of the almost 400,000 children and youths in the foster care system.
Privately owned, family-operated Raley's operates 127 stores in Northern California and Nevada under four banners: Raley’s Supermarkets, Bel Air Markets, Nob Hill Foods and Food Source.