JUMA - It Starts With a Job

Juma is a nonprofit social enterprise that creates employment opportunities for youth from underserved communities.

Photo of Heather Saunders
16 12

Written by


  • I am not an employee of BNY Mellon, or an immediate family member of a BNY Mellon employee
  • I am over 18 years of age
  • My organization is incorporated as a non-profit, for-profit, or hybrid organization, or I have a partner that is incorporated and could accept funds on my behalf
  • I have already piloted my initiative and have some initial evidence of impact
  • My organization is headquartered and creating impact in the United States


  • Woman

Where are you making a difference?

California: San Francisco (94105), Oakland (94621), San Jose (95113), Sacramento (95817) Washington: Seattle (98134) Georgia: Atlanta (30303) Texas: Houston (77002) Louisiana: New Orleans (70125)

Focus Areas (required)

  • Children & Youth

Date Started


Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)


  • over $5m

Website or social media URL(s) (optional)


Twitter URL


Facebook URL


LinkedIn URL


1.Founding Story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed.

Juma was founded on the radical idea that a business could help homeless youth reach their highest potential. 25 years later, Juma has grown into a national nonprofit social enterprise that employs 1,300 young people across eight cities in the United States. You will find Juma youth selling concessions at stadiums such as AT&T Park - home of the San Francisco Giants. Our business model enables us to create real social change that is sustainable and allows us to reach many more youth than a non-market based solution. We are able to provide a supportive job and early work experience to thousands of youth who would otherwise not be given a chance to earn a paycheck and develop critical soft skills, or may face too many barriers to succeed.

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Forty years ago, a teenager leaving high school—with or without a diploma—could find a job in a local factory and sustain a family. But today, young Americans are experiencing unemployment rates that are at least twice the national average. Too often, low-income youth of color are the last in line. Unless someone gives them a chance to work toward a better future, they risk remaining trapped in a cycle of poverty.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Juma recently launched a promising new program called YouthConnect that combines employment with financial capability and career support services for some of the 4.9 million American youth ages 16-24 who have become disconnected from school and work. Referred to as Opportunity Youth, many of these young people grew up in poverty, have a history with foster care or juvenile justice, and have experienced significant trauma. As a result, they face a multitude of barriers to employment at a critical juncture in their lives. YouthConnect’s Earn, Learn, Connect model helps bridge the opportunity divide by creating career pathways toward middle-skills careers offering a living wage. We ensure youth earn their first paycheck, learn to manage their money and gain essential soft skills like responsibility, teamwork and how to communicate in the workplace. Juma then partners with corporate employers such as UPS, CVS Pharmacy, Gap Inc., and Starbucks to connect youth to their next job and provides 90 days retention support. Youth are also supported to explore and enroll in post-secondary education and industry-aligned training pathways necessary to advance toward middle skills jobs.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of how your solution is working to solve the problem.

After graduating from high school, Devyon was caught in an increasingly common trap. Application after application, he would not get a call back. His limited work experience was a barrier preventing him from securing permanent employment and opportunities to earn an income ‘the right way’. Devyon's case manager encouraged him to apply to Juma. After only a month, Devyon was promoted from Food Prep and then to a Stand Manager. Juma helped Devyon to land a permanent position with their corporate partner, UPS and importantly, complete a supply change management certification at Georgia Tech. One year later, Devyon has stable full-time employment and is an Operations Manager after successfully passing UPS’ Supervisor Exam. He oversees 15-16 workers, earning a living wage with benefits. Devyon says, “Juma has taught me everything I know about what it means to be a professional."

5a. Too many people in the U.S. have unmet needs for financial products and services. How is your work reaching a population(s) that is currently underserved? If it is not reaching an underserved population yet, how might it in the near future?

Growing up in underserved communities, Juma's participants face economic hardship as a result of low income and asset bases, limited financial knowledge and access to safe and affordable financial services. Juma leverages the teachable moment of a first paycheck to help youth open a bank account and provide an opportunity to develop lifelong money management skills through financial education and 1:1 financial coaching on topics such as budgeting, financial products, credit and debt and fraud.

5b. Please specify if the population you are reaching is underserved due to any of the following characteristics:

  • race/ethnicity
  • age - youth
  • socio-economic class

6. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There is a growing national movement trying to address the challenges faced by 4.9 million American youth disconnected from school and work. A major convenor is the Opportunity Youth Network (Aspen Institute), which is made up of non-profits, philanthropy, government, and businesses. As a social enterprise, Juma is able to partner with many nonprofit organizations who are trying to place youth into employment but to also partner with businesses committed to impact hiring. By providing a unique pre-training ground, we are able to help youth overcome barriers and connect to permanent employment.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Since 1993, Juma has employed 7,200 youth, who have earned $9.5 million and saved $6.2 million. YouthConnect is focused first on supporting disconnected youth overcome barriers to employment through on-the-job work experience and training. Since the program launched, 85% of participants have gone on to secure employment with our corporate partners, and 89% are still employed at 90 days - an industry marker of retention success. Juma is now focused on ensuring our youth are connected to a range of career pathways that lead to financial independence. During the program, Juma exposes its young people to careers in high-growth industries such as healthcare and advanced manufacturing, and specifically well-paying roles that require more than a high-school diploma but less than a four-year college degree. Youth are supported in their connection to industry-aligned training pathways.

8a. Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling your impact?

As Juma moves into its 25th year, we have developed a 5-year growth and sustainability plan to go deeper in our current footprint and expand YouthConnect to employ and serve 5,600 young people and set them on a path to a career. Impact growth capital will be used to fuel the expansion of Juma’s enterprise contracts and YouthConnect programming, and continue to deepen our partnerships across sectors. By 2022, we believe all of Juma’s sites will become 100% locally sustainable, working toward a break-even social enterprise and a strong base of local philanthropic support.

8b. If applicable, which of the following scaling strategies have you launched?

  • Organizational Growth

9. Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

At a national level, Juma is powered by its 22 social enterprises, each of which generates transformational employment opportunities for low-income youth and require relatively little additional financial support. In 2018, we expect 36% of Juma's income to be derived from our social enterprises. Juma also receives support from more than 80 institutional partners and has a strong base of support from both corporate and private entities.

10. Team: What is the current composition of your team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

YouthConnect is overseen by the National Program Director at Juma’s headquarters in San Francisco and managed locally by regional Site Directors. In each site, we have at least a full-time adult Enterprise Manager, a Career Coach, and 1-2 part-time Assistant Enterprise Managers staffed by Juma alums. As our program and partnerships grow, our goal is to also hire a local relationship manager to ensure strong coordination for youth across our ecosystem of partners.

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 - Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities? (optional)

  • Communities of color
  • Low-income community

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Email

Organization name

Juma Ventures

Program Design Clarity

YouthConnect participants are recruited (and supported) by nonprofit partners for the beginning of the professional sports season. Youth are employed by Juma for ~six months, complete approximately 150 hours of work experience and earn on average $2,000. Alongside the job, they partner with their Career Coach to determine their long-term career goals in an Individual Development Plan. Youth participate in a series of job search skills workshops, participate in career and education tours, and receive financial capability training. They receive 90 days retention support in their next job.

Approach to financial wellbeing: does your project focus on creating financial wellbeing through innovating on any of the following?

  • education / literacy

Innovation type: Please select which of the following types of innovation best characterize your work

  • Product innovation (Introduction of a good or service or improvements made to existing products)

Partnerships in detail: tell us about your partnerships that enhance your approach.

Juma partners with local nonprofit organizations to recruit and provide youth wrap around supportive services such as mental health and housing. Our partnerships with the nation’s largest hospitality companies such as Aramark, have been central to Juma’s success and ability to create employment opportunities for low-income youth. To connect youth to their next job, Juma also partners with corporate employers such as MOD Pizza, UPS, CVS Pharmacy, Costco, Starbucks, and Southwest Airlines.

If you won the Unlocking ₵hange Challenge, how would you invest the prize money of $50,000?

We would pilot a new rewards structure to recognize the youths’ hard work in all aspects of Juma’s EARN, LEARN, SAVE programming. Based on feedback from youth, the pilot would measure gains in engagement from offering three reward levels (Job On, Career Build, Connect Forward) ranging from $50-$150.

Awards & Recognitions: What awards or recognitions has the project received?

Since 1993, Juma has employed more than 7,200 youth who have earned $9.5 million in wages. Juma’s work has received numerous awards including the National Youth Employment Coalition's PEPNet Award for Promising and Effective Practices and the National Organization of the Year from the Social Enterprise Alliance. In 2017, Juma won the Seattle Business Magazine’s Gold Award for Community Impact.

Evaluation results

5 evaluations so far

1. Overall, would you champion this entry as a excellent example to move forward to the next phase of the challenge and become a semifinalist?

Yes, absolutely! - 60%

Yes/maybe - 20%

Maybe - 20%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

2. Is this entry INNOVATIVE?

Yes, absolutely! - 20%

Yes/maybe - 40%

Maybe - 40%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

3. Is this entry IMPACTFUL on financial wellbeing?

Yes, absolutely! - 80%

Yes/maybe - 20%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

4. Is this entry SUSTAINABLE?

Yes, absolutely! - 80%

Yes/maybe - 20%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

5. What are some of the HIGHLIGHTS of strengths of this entry?

Connection to underserved community - 100%

Clarity of Model - 80%

Clarity of Writing - 80%

Idea Originality - 0%

Understanding of the marketplace or sector - 60%

Impact measurement - 60%

Impact Potential - 80%

Financial Sustainability - 40%

Team - 20%

Partnerships - 40%

Potential to scale - 40%

6. What are some of the areas for IMPROVEMENT of this entry?

Connection to underserved community - 0%

Clarity of Model - 0%

Clarity of Writing - 0%

Idea Originality - 66.7%

Understanding of the marketplace or sector - 33.3%

Impact measurement - 66.7%

Impact Potential - 0%

Financial Sustainability - 33.3%

Team - 0%

Partnerships - 100%

Potential to scale - 100%

Attachments (1)


Join the conversation:

Photo of Raj


View all comments