Teams from North Carolina, Florida, and Wisconsin win Big Ideas, Bright Cities Challenge

Press Release

New York / April 27, 2022– GBC-Education is pleased to announce the winners and finalists from its first-ever “Big Ideas, Bright Cities Challenge.” The Challenge honors teams for their bold, innovative ideas that equip young people to participate in the workforce. Challenge winner Action Greensboro will receive $100,000 and be part of a network of changemakers working to boost youth skills development in cities across the country.

GBC-Education launched the Challenge to help solve an urgent problem: In the U.S., one in ten young people is not in school and not employed—a total of four million youth. These young people are badly needed in the workforce. The most recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed 11.3 million job openings—a near record high—with openings increasing in many sectors including service and manufacturing.

Cities and businesses across the country are struggling to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. They must attract young, diverse workers who are excited by the innovation and energy of urban centers. To jump start these efforts, cities need to re-imagine how they can create ecosystems allowing young people to gain the skills they need for meaningful employment. That’s exactly what these winner and finalist teams have done and their ideas are tremendously inspiring. Justin van Fleet, Executive Director of GBC-Education

The Challenge lifts initiatives that focus on underserved youth. The winning Greensboro, NC program aims to link young people, including low-income and first-generation college students, with paid internships. The initiative, called “Campus Greensboro,” will provide stipends for youth to work with minority- and women-owned businesses. It will also financially support students in a summer skills development program. The initiative’s partners include local businesses and universities.

We’re thrilled to have earned this amazing recognition. This is about helping underrepresented college students and supporting business growth, especially women- and minority-owned businesses. We have so many students in our area—many of which are low-income or first-generation—we want to support their professional development, connecting them directly with all that Greensboro, NC has to offer. Bramley Crisco, Director of Talent Development at Action Greensboro

The Challenge taps into the exciting work that’s already happening in cities across the U.S. to nurture skills in young people and set them up for success. The Challenge builds on trends and gaps identified by GBC Education in the 2022 report The State of U.S. Cities and Youth Skills. The initiative also encourages collaboration among city leaders, youth-serving organizations, higher education institutions, and businesses.

The second-place co-winner teams from Madison, WI and Orlando, FL will receive $10,000 each. 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. 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. Orlando’s business partnerships include GAP, Banana Republic, and Old Navy. Both programs say this financing will help meet the acute needs of youth in their area.

Finalists include 12 other organizations from across the country. Together, the winners and finalists will form a nationwide community of practice of changemakers. Over the next year, this network will share best practices and connect with business leaders and policymakers invested in youth skills development efforts. This will allow their ideas to grow, succeed, and inspire others.

The “Big Ideas, Bright Cities Challenge” is made possible by the support of Deloitte and Dell Technologies.

Deloitte is committed to supporting innovative approaches that can improve access to education and employability. We’re honored to be part of this effort, which reaffirms our own work at building trust and confidence in a more equitable society. Kwasi Mitchell, Chief Purpose Officer at Deloitte

A panel of esteemed judges evaluated and decided the winners and finalists. Judges include leaders from business, philanthropy, government, academia, and think tanks.

I am so appreciative of this opportunity to examine the work being done across the country to support youth development and professional growth. The winners stood out because of their unique insights and strategies on how to prepare our nation’s youth for the workforce of today and tomorrow. They are not only training individuals—they are creating ecosystems to set up generations for future success. Jessica Anderson, Director of Strategic Giving at Dell Technologies

The full lists of winners and finalists are:

  • Winner: Action Greensboro – Greensboro, NC
  • 2nd Place: Sidekick Education – Madison, WI
  • 2nd Place: Orlando Community and Youth Trust – Orlando, FL
  • Finalist: The Trust for Public Land – Camden, NJ
  • Finalist: STL Youth Jobs, St Louis, MO
  • Finalist: Jeffco Schools Foundation, Jefferson County, CO
  • Finalist: Philadelphia Works, Inc – Philadelphia, PA
  • Finalist: Build UP Birmingham – Birmingham, AL
  • Finalist: Education to Employment Partners – Corpus Christi, TX
  • Finalist: Junior Achievement Arkansas – Little Rock, AR
  • Finalist: Center for the Future of Arizona – Tucson, AZ
  • Finalist: The Urban Alliance – Chicago Region, Chicago, IL
  • Finalist: EmployIndy – Indianapolis, IN
  • Finalist: New England Basecamp – Providence, RI

Learn more about the winners and finalists here.