Big Ideas, Bright Cities Challenge – 2022 Winners

In 2022, we selected 13 finalists to receive grant funding and come together as a community of practice of change-makers across cities nationwide.

The Grand Prize Winner, Action Greensboro (NC), received a $100,000 grant. The Runners-Up Sidekick Education in Madison (WI) and Orlando Community Youth & Trust in Orlando (FL) received a $10,000 grant. The remaining finalists were each awarded a micro-grant to support their work.

Locations & name map of 2022 winners & finalists of the Skills Friendly Cities Big Ideas, Bright Cities challenge.

Map of Skills Friendly Cities – 2022

First Place

Action Greensboro, Greensboro (NC)

Action Greensboro’s program aims to link young people from low-income backgrounds and first-generation college students with paid internships with local minority- and women-owned businesses. It will also financially support students in a summer skills development program.


Sidekick Education, Madison (WI)

Madison’s Sidekick Education idea is a text-based chatbot service that acts as a career advisor for 4,000 low-income youth aged 16-24.

Orlando Community Youth and Trust, Orlando (FL)

The Orlando Community and Youth Trust’s Youth Employment Program (YEP) provides career guidance and preparation, job training, and job placement to youth between 15 and 25. Their business partnerships include GAP, Banana Republic, and Old Navy.


Build up Birmingham, Birmingham (AL)

Build UP is a workforce development program that provides low-income youth career-ready skills through paid apprenticeships.

Center for the Future of Arizona, Tucson (AZ)

The Center for the Future of Arizona‘s Pima County School Superintendent’s Cycle Breaker Program (CBP) assist youth by reengaging them with wrap-around services, career exploration, skills development, and job placements.

EmployIndy, Indianapolis (IN)

EmployIndy‘s Project Indy is an online platform that enables businesses to post seasonal, part-time and full-time jobs for young adults between the ages of 16 to 24. Young job seekers can create profiles, upload resumes, and browse job openings by location. Location-based job searching is particularly important for young people who often face transportation barriers.

Jeffco Schools Foundation, Jefferson County (CO)

GROW(Get Ready for Opportunities at Work) Jeffco is a career hub model. Career hubs are physical locations at high school sites with dedicated space for career training, engagement, and employer engagement and mentorship of both school staff and students.

Junior Achievement, Little Rock (AR)

The goal of the Junior Achievement new program is to help youth possess the targeted skills that align with the emerging needs of the City of Little Rock so that they become the “hires of choice”.

New England Basecamp, Providence (RI)

The goal of New England Basecamp leadership  development program is to expose students to a variety of industries, match them with a local mentor affiliated with a job/career of their interest, and connect them to resources/opportunities.

Philadelphia Works, Philadelphia (PA)

This Philadelphia Works program aims at creating a Career Connected Learning (CCL) system to streamline the thousands of career-focused activities already happening in Philadelphia.

STL Youth Jobs, St Louis (MO)

After a successful pilot and a clear demand from a younger audience in search of gaining workplace skills, STL Youth Jobs seeks to scale up the Discover You program by expanding the age range to include 14-year olds and increase the overall number of youth served.

Urban Alliance, Chicago region, Chicago (IL)

The Urban Alliance (UA) wants to expand its Teacher Institute program in Chicago to help keep students on track and lay the groundwork for more intensive workforce readiness and paid internship experiences in the nation’s third largest school district.

Education to Employment Partners, Corpus Christi (TX)

Education to Employment Partners’s big idea is to create a Youth Opportunity Center to support underserved and all young people from ages 16-24. Through this Center, Education to Employment Partners (E2E), a nonprofit community-based organization, the City of Corpus Christi, school districts, juvenile justice, workforce, and community partners, will come together to create a more “skills friendly” city for young people.

Insights From Skills Friendly Cities

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The Big Ideas, Bright Cities Challenge is supported by: