An equitable future.
Project Z is a nonprofit on a mission to close the skills gap for youth facing social and/or economic barriers, while empowering cross generational positive impact and innovation. It is our mission to disrupt the approach of workforce development and education. Project Z envisions a world where community equity is a priority, education equals experience, and disparities in economic mobility and access to resources do not exist.
Our Elevator pitch
Project Z prepares underrepresented youth for the future of work while creating a pipeline of talent for companies. Youth work on a project team to provide consulting services to real companies and nonprofits after applying the training we’ve provided. Not only are youth not charged for this program, they are paid as they provide measurable value to organizations and companies, decreasing their economic barriers to focus on self-development. Upon graduation from the program we register the youth consultants as independent contractors trained to bid for work and enter the gig economy should they choose not to seek full-time employment for a company. This prepares youth for any type of -preneurship, a term coined by Aunya Lewis, they choose to pursue.
Project Z Co-Founders Jazmin Tanner and Jamira Burley met in high school as fellows of a mentorship program called Leaders of Tomorrow, an initiative by the National Black MBA Association. The program was pivotal in their development motivating them to maintain involvement as alum. Aside from their mutual experience with youth development programs, both as beneficiaries and program leaders, they shared experience in the consulting industry and are members of the Global Shapers Community where they learned about the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) from Professor Schwab, Founder of the World Economic Forum.
Building on their experience of training youth to compete in MBA-level case competitions and observing the rapid development of those participating students as a result, in the summer of 2018 Jazmin and Jamira piloted Project Z. Youth in Washington, DC were trained and paid to work as consultants on real projects for real companies that provided real value. This approach created a unique approach to addressing the skills gap for youth, as well as a different approach to workforce development and consulting services for companies.
The name Project Z was chosen with dual meanings, the first is due to Generation Z making up our first cohort; although our impact is intended to extend beyond this generation. The second is to highlight Z as unknown. As the landscape changes for how we as a society approach jobs and skills, Project Z will remain agile with our training, partnerships and project selections to remain cutting edge.
65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.
(World Economic Forum, 2016)
15 year olds today will have more than 17 jobs and 5 careers in their lifetime.
(The Guardian, 2017)
1.8 billion youth worldwide stand to be left behind by the current rate of change being brought forth by the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
We believe genius does not have an age limit, race or socio-economic background. With the right tools and resources anyone can succeed. In the digital age companies replicate trends set by youth and then turn a profit on their creativity and digital marketing genius without providing compensation to the idea originators.
The current landscape of education does not prepare youth for jobs of today, much less the future. Further, the job market requires experience in order to gain experience, which puts youth without guidance at a disadvantage. Bootcamps and vocational programs take time and money, not affording youth the space to learn through experience and setting a barrier for youth that may have to choose low-wage jobs to offset the cost of these programs, dividing their attention.
Through our program youth gain immediate experience while going beyond just tech skills and gaining access to the growing gig economy. Youth learn and practice high-demand skills that will be transferable while working for themselves, a company, or simply bringing in extra income. Paying our youth decreases economic barriers, while experiential project based learning serves as a tight feedback loop to iteratively improve and apply learning. Youth build their resume faster than a vocational school or bootcamp, while having the facetime lacking in online programs. We provide the flexibility of periodic work from home days teaching in-office and remote decorum.
By having youth work together in a co-working space it provides participating companies a low risk workforce development and consulting services vehicle.
Youth successfully completing our program will graduate with the following:
According to the GBCE, the skills above are what is necessary to succeed in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Participating companies and organizations gain affordable yet innovative consulting services and solutions. They will also have access to a pipeline of junior talent under the guidance of industry experts, providing organizations the option of bringing in junior talent post-project closeout minus the pressures of embedded internships. Deliverables have clear acceptance criteria and timelines, ensuring value is delivered and timely. Youth will work in a co-working spaces during project completion, which reduces risk, overhead and working space for companies. The co-work set up also enables the youth consultants to work on projects outside of the DC Metropolitan area.