Joint Opinion Editorial on San Jose Works with San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo featured in the Silicon Valley Business Journal on May 31, 2019.

 Joint Opinion Editorial on San Jose Works with San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo featured in the Silicon Valley Business Journal on May 31, 2019.

Click here to read the online version of the article.

While the world knows Silicon Valley as the nation’s most prosperous region, a prevailing media narrative of San Jose is of a deep and dispiriting economic divide. This economic gap emanates from a “skills gap”: workers with 21st Century skills thrive in our tech-driven and globally oriented economy, while thousands of our families are increasingly left behind.

In the words of social entrepreneur Leila Janah, our Valley’s bountiful talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not. Thousands of families struggle against the headwinds of global economic and technological change. While we cannot change those winds, we can adjust our sails to expand opportunity for them — particularly for our youth.

In 2015, the City of San José teamed up with Work2Future Foundation to launch San Jose Works (SJ Works), an initiative designed to prepare students from San José’s underserved and at-risk neighborhoods to succeed in the Valley’s economy.

In 2017, we expanded that partnership to include the Silicon Valley Organization (The SVO) — which launched STRIVE San José to serve as a bridge between private and non-profit sector employers, and SJ Works — and high school districts in San José.

Since then, the program has grown thanks to the city’s $1 million annual investment, the SVO's resources, private investment from local employers like Facebook, Bank of America, Alaska Airlines, Microsoft, and Western Digital Corporation, and funding from the state Career Technical Education (CTE) grants. Together, we leverage the expertise, connections, and resources of each partner for tremendous collective impact.

The program — now in its fifth year — has connected more than 3,200 young San Joseans with their first summer jobs. In addition to work experience, SJ Works equips students with the professional and financial literacy skills — such as ensuring every student opens a savings account — they will need to participate in a 21st-century economy.

This effort bridges divides by attracting employers who believe in the promise of San Jose’s students. To date, SJ Works has inspired the investment of more than 150 Silicon Valley employers, across a spectrum of industries that include technology, healthcare, government, and manufacturing.

In exchange for hiring San Jose students, SJ Works’ more than 150 employers reap the benefits that come with developing a more diverse pipeline of local talent. By investing in this pipeline, employers are also expanding a workforce that stands to face a shortage of 1.1 million college-educated employees by 2030. Among the chief culprits of this shortage: a declining enrollment rate of Californian high school graduates in four-year universities.

So, we’re connecting many of the participating San Jose Works high schoolers with the San Jose College Promise, and its provision of funding and connections to eliminate the financial barriers of tuition, books, and fees. We also provide them with critical supportive services like academic bridge programs, mentors, counselors, and childcare that keeps students on track to graduate on time.

With widening divides and an increasingly-stretched workforce on the horizon, we critically need more of our local companies to invest in the next-generation of talent — one with Silicon Valley roots and loyalty. By leveraging public-private partnerships like SJ Works, our community can help us disperse the dividends of Silicon Valley’s prosperity while strengthening and diversifying the workforce pipeline they rely on.


As we welcome nearly 1,000 new students to SJ Works this year, we also encourage the continued investment from our partners in the private sector to employ the hundreds of students ready to work, but who are stuck on the waiting list. By investing in our young people, together, we can broaden opportunity in Silicon Valley and nurture the next generation of great talent.

If you are an employer interested in contributing to the SJ Works Program, want to hire a San Jose student, or mentor a participant please contact Eddie Truong at eddiet@thesvo.com.

More Posts

You Might Also Like

COVID 19 Resource Center
Watch Our SVO COVID-19 Business Resource Webinars
We are going to be hosting various online webinars providing our SVO members access to business resources, as well as discuss upcoming policy changes that affect business operations. We have invited political and industry experts to lead our webinars to make you our members are up to speed with all of the legislative updates that relate to COVID-19. In case you miss one, you can watch our webinar recordings here!
Mar 31, 2020
The Silicon Valley Organization
COVID 19 Resource Center
SVO Members Joining the Fight Against COVID-19
Now more than ever it's important we show kindness, gratitude and support to the people and businesses that have been affected by this global pandemic. We are proud of the following SVO members who have committed themselves to just that—joining the fight against COVID-19. This leadership is an inspiration to us all, and we thank them for their contributions and generous donations of desperately needed supplies. We are #SiliconValleyStrong.
Mar 30, 2020
The Silicon Valley Organization
COVID 19 Resource Center
Activities & Programs to Boost Your Mental Health
Take a look at some of these downtown businesses that are offering options for you to stay healthy, calm, and entertained!
Mar 27, 2020
The Silicon Valley Organization
COVID 19 Resource Center
COVID-19 CRISIS MANAGEMENT
Read about resources available to businesses to manage the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mar 26, 2020
The Silicon Valley Organization
COVID 19 Resource Center
COVID-19 City Council Updates
Mar 26, 2020
The Silicon Valley Organization
COVID 19 Resource Center
COVID-19 Nonprofit Resources
Wondering how you can help during this time? Social distancing doesn't mean social isolation. We still need to support the nonprofits in our region who are continuing to provide critical services to the people of our community day and night—ensuring our most vulnerable populations are being housed, fed and cared for. However, they could really use our help in a number of ways: donating extra supplies, offering your time as a volunteer or through any generous donations in order to sustain themselves.
Mar 25, 2020
The Silicon Valley Organization
Explore ALl Posts
Follow Us

We’re on Instagram