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February 19, 2019

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The San Diego Workforce Partnership is spearheading a new initiative, Career Launch: Service Sector, to help opportunity youth in San Diego County find meaningful employment in the service industry. Service sector roles include anything that is customer-facing, such as retail, hotel or restaurant positions. 

Group Under Sempra SignWith funding from the Walmart Foundation and SDG&E, the Workforce Partnership is partnering with local Hyatt properties (Manchester Grand and Aviara) and the City Heights Coffee House to provide training, career exposure, employment and follow up coaching to San Diego County young adults ages 16–24 who are not currently working or enrolled in school.

While the Career Launch framework has a common thread of helping opportunity youth find meaningful employment, there are two different approaches. Hyatt’s RiseHY initiative, launched in October 2018, is a commitment to hire 10,000 opportunity youth worldwide by 2025. The Workforce Partnership is joining the effort in San Diego County by helping recruit opportunity youth, develop an intensive, one-day work readiness training and provide follow up coaching to participants after employment.

“We understand the challenges young people face, and Hyatt hotels are uniquely positioned to be part of the solution,” said Hyatt Chief Human Resources Officer Malaika Myers in a press release. “Hospitality is one of the few industries where entry-level opportunities often lead to fulfilling, life-long careers that can change the trajectory of someone’s life…”


With City Heights Coffee House, the model provides an 8-week curriculum on life skills training combined with paid on-the-job experience in the coffee house. After completing the training, participants will be placed with businesses in the service sector for continued employment. The Workforce Partnership is supporting this effort with recruitment, logistical support, wage subsidies and follow up coaching. The Career Launch Academy is a pilot program utilizing the Career Launch framework. The goal is to use it as a model for programs with other service businesses and eventually across sectors.

“At City Heights Coffee House, we fully believe that holistic development and care are essential for career success, and are excited to help pilot a program that not only teaches soft workplace skills but also teaches skills for overall self-sufficiency,” says Sterling Tran, director of employee development at City Heights Coffee House. “I am personally excited to see the participants dream for themselves. When you’re in a stable and encouraging environment, it’s easier to dream for yourself, to take risks and to learn from mistakes. We hope to create that environment for our participants so that they can see their futures as limitless.”

The Workforce Partnership expects 100 opportunity youth to participate in this pilot program, with the goal of 70 percent landing employment opportunities after training and 50 percent of those young adults maintaining employment six months after being hired.

Laura Kohn, Workforce Partnership’s director of the Center for Local Income Mobility (CLIMB), sees more and more employers recognizing the latent potential in opportunity youth. “These two service sector employers are creating jobs for young adults that springboard them into long-term careers that pay living wages and promote upward mobility,” she says. “With well-designed training and mentorship, opportunity youth are on their way to self-sufficiency.”

If you are interested in hiring, partnering or applying, email

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