Economic Mobility

Future of Work

Investment Area: Future of Work

The Richard King Mellon Foundation’s Economic Mobility program’s vision is that all children and youth living in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties will be able to access their most promising future. 

The Economic Mobility program has three guardrails that inform all of the program’s funding decisions:

•    The funding program benefits children and youth ages 0-24 years.
•    The program’s funding serves residents of Allegheny and Westmoreland counties.
•    The program prioritizes children and youth from low-income families. 

The Economic Mobility program organizes its grantmaking into four investment areas. Collectively, these four investment areas describe the Foundation’s approach to addressing the problem of limited economic mobility. Each investment area contains priorities that further describe the Foundation’s funding interests. Finally, each priority has evidence-informed outcomes that describe specific changes that the Foundation hopes to create. Organization’s applying to the Economic Mobility program should be clear in their application how the proposed efforts will advance at least one of the program’s outcomes.

The four investment areas and the priorities and outcomes within each investment area are described in further detail below.

The future of work will require children and youth to be well-educated and cultivate a range of skills to be competitive in new industries. Helping children and youth prepare for the future of work raises their chances of enduring unexpected crises and experiencing upward mobility. Our Future of Work investment areas has two priorities: (1) develop career readiness skills and (2) access relevant applied work experiences. Within each priority, the Foundation has identified evidence-based outcomes that, if achieved, will prepare children to achieve lifelong prosperity. 

Priority: Develop Career Readiness Skills – Career readiness skills include soft skills that employers have repeatedly identified as critical. These broadly transferable skills can be coupled with an understanding of the pathways that exist between K-12 education and different careers to increase the likelihood that students will successfully pursue a career path. The Foundation will promote the development of career-readiness skills through funding focused on two outcomes: mastery of social and emotional skills and knowledge of industries and job opportunities. 

Priority: Relevant Applied Work Experiences -  Internships and hands-on project-based learning opportunities allow children and youth to gain and improve important skills. These and other career exploration opportunities also give children and youth the chance to identify their strengths and weaknesses and see themselves in a career. Stable employment and sustainable living wages for young adults are key steps on the ladder to economic mobility. Meaningful paid employment opportunities help youth strengthen their resumes and open the door to other better-paying jobs in the future. The Foundation will promote the development of relevant, applied work experiences through funding focused on two outcomes: participation in internships, project-based learning, and other career exploration activities; and employment and earnings.

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