Youth Social Entrepreneurship

Sundance Family Foundation has been championing Youth Social Entrepreneurship (YSE) as a way to support youth age 14-18 in low-income or underrepresented communities. YSE programs integrate positive youth social and emotional learning, with community engagement, and entrepreneurial workforce skills. Most nonprofits with YSE enterprises encourage youth to take a variety of leadership positions in business, community, and government sectors.

The YSE model also tracks the emotional impacts and socio-cultural disposition of youth in settings that might be challenging. Rather than focusing only on job acquisition, as do classic workforce skills training programs, the YSE model seeks to address several overlapping layers of complexity of the issue. The model also seeks to minimize invasive surveying of youth by encouraging nonprofits to use databases to hold demographic, pre- interim- and post-program data.

In 2020 Sundance created its Earn and Learn model for youth age 18-24+. The elements of the YSE model are the foundation for an expanded and robust model that includes: 1) social/emotional support to increase youth personal agency and confidence 2) community engagement to increase personal social capital 3) work readiness/work skills acquisition through nationally recognized credentials that can articulate into degree credits 4) mentoring during training and into job acquisition 5) on the job apprenticeships and workforce guidance 6) job retention supports: emergency funds, transportation and career laddering guidance.

Sundance has been combining several strategies to advance the field of YSE and Earn and Learn by:

1) Building the capacity of nonprofits to produce rigorous evidence-based evaluation

2) Developing partnerships and collaborations between youth, post-secondary training, and job opportunities

3) Inspiring innovative transportation, apprentice, and workplace mentoring programs

4) Producing hands-on Wunderkammers and COVID-inspired online Zoomerkammers with career exploration opportunities.

5) Communicating these bold innovations through video, social media, and storytelling.

Our goal is to cultivate rich environments for disconnected and/or underrepresented youth living in low-income communities where they can explore careers, post-secondary training and discover their own meaningful futures.