Lever Fund supports young peoples’ STEM careers in the Nation’s Capitol

$20,000 donation for youth workforce development designed to direct funding to communities that have experienced decades of underinvestment

WASHINGTON, DC -- Lever Fund, the philanthropic fund that is breaking the cycle of poverty in the Greater Washington region through workforce development, has agreed to support internships for disadvantaged youth in Washington, D.C., putting young people firmly on a trajectory toward promising science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.

The $20,000 donation to community-based organization On-Ramps to Careers will sponsor 20 African American and Latinx youth in securing internships and formalize the organization's new alumni engagement program.

Founded in 2013 in Washington, D.C., On-Ramps to Careers matches high school students with paid internships to encourage STEM careers. It recruits, trains, places and monitors students throughout their six-week internships. Simultaneously, the organization develops and maintains partnerships with employers and helps them design meaningful internship experiences for students. 

“Our investment was made possible by donors who recognize how critically important it is for students facing challenging economic circumstances to land a first good job that sets them up for lifelong success,” said Connie K.N. Chang, Lever Fund Board Chair. “Our investment in On-Ramps to Careers highlights this strategic focus of ours.”

“On-Ramps is a partner in our network of nonprofits fighting to end poverty by preparing young people for a place in the workforce. On-Ramps’ success record makes us confident that our first investment in them will lead to tangible outcomes for students and the organization’s alumni network,” added Chang.

On-Ramps to Careers recruits students from traditional public and charter high schools across the District. Students go through an interview and professional development process to receive placement. Participants range from 15 to 21 years in age with most students entering their senior year of high school. Their GPAs range from 2.0 to 5.0, averaging 3.0. Most students are African American and more than half are female. 

“We are thrilled that Lever Fund supports our vision of fighting poverty by getting young people ready for their first job and their careers in technology and engineering,” said Hilary Jones, On-Ramps to Careers Managing Director. “Their process of selecting us for this donation was thorough and supportive at the same time; they are not just a donor, but also a partner that supports us with advice where needed.”

Among DC’s 16- to 24-year-olds, approximately 34% of African Americans and 32% of Hispanics were not employed during 2014-2018, compared to 15% of Whites. Having a job as a youth or young adult is a predictor of long-term work success. Having a job has also been linked to improved self-esteem, self-efficacy, and life satisfaction.

To learn more about the decision-making process behind the investment, see Lever Fund's On-Ramps to Careers Offering Memorandum here

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