Larkin Street Academy – Employment

Employment Services & Job Assistance

Other than shelter, what the kids at Larkin Street need most is a safe way to support themselves. They need to find immediate alternatives to the survival behaviors they have had to pursue to get money to support themselves – in the worst instances, prostitution and drug dealing.

In response to this crucial need for our youth, Larkin Street offers Larkin Street Academy, a collection of comprehensive education, employment, and career services for homeless and at-risk youth in San Francisco. Employment programs for homeless youth at Larkin Street’s Larkin Street Academy program include YouthForce, Job Readiness Class, Institute for Hire Learning, and Wire Up.

YouthForce is a Larkin Street program for youth able to do entry-level work but who have not yet completed education or training for a specific career path. YouthForce youth work in supervised day labor crews, cleaning facilities of local businesses, washing graffiti off of walls, moving furniture, stuffing envelopes, and completing other employment tasks for an hourly stipend. The YouthForce program at Larkin Street gives staff a valuable opportunity to get to know each at-risk youth, assess their skills and abilities, and link them with the education and employment programs they need. The program also builds the work ethic of participating youth and gives them a sense of connection to the community. YouthForce youth learn important skills like following directions, teamwork, and accountability, which helps them be more successful as they enter the working world.

Job Readiness Class (JRC) at Larkin Street helps street kids explore career possibilities and set their employment goals for the future. Youth receive counseling and help to create individual plans for economic stability. With the help of Larkin Street staff, these at- risk youth gain the skills they need to be successful in the workplace. The JRC curriculum includes résumé writing, mock interviews, and other pre-employment skills required for a successful job search. Staff also invite guest speakers to help expand the kids’ perspective about what they can do with their lives. Larkin Street’s housing and health services provide for their immediate needs for shelter and safety, while employment services like JRC open their eyes to the possibilities in their futures.

After completing the Job Readiness Class, kids have the option to apply to Larkin Street Academy’s Institute for Hire Learning (IHL), a competitive program offering paid internships with local businesses and organizations. The Institute for Hire Learning also helps youth access and afford formal vocational training, enabling them to work themselves into a higher income bracket. IHL participants may pursue internships in an impressive array of career areas, including culinary arts, veterinary care, and multimedia. Youth are encouraged to seek their own path, and staff help develop exciting internship opportunities that will prepare them for lifelong vocations. In many cases, they choose to work toward careers in which they can help others as they have been helped, through internships in nonprofit social services, HIV prevention, or nursing. Throughout each IHL internship, participants gain extra support by attending professional development workshops on topics such as time and money management, self-care and crisis management. These workshops focus on teaching advanced skills to help youth succeed in their internship and beyond as they head toward permanent employment. One-on-one counseling with Larkin Street staff offers a safe place for youth to discuss successes and struggles both with the internship and with life.

Wire Up is an intensive 15-hour computer and technology skills course offered to youth in Larkin Street’s on-site computer lab. The Wire Up curriculum, which includes vocational training in basic computer applications and website design, is linked specifically to the skills that businesses in the technology sector say they need most. Wire Up classes run in conjunction with our Job Readiness Class to offer training for an advanced set of technical skills. These important skills increase hiring potential for youth as well as readying youth for careers both inside and outside of the local Bay Area technology industry. When youth graduate from Wire Up, they are well prepared to formulate their résumés, apply for work, and interview for jobs in the technology sector. They can move forward with their careers secure in the knowledge that they have the skills necessary to help them leave street life behind forever.

Because of employment programs at Larkin Street like YouthForce and Job Readiness Class, more than 100 youth each year are placed in jobs where they make a living wage. Approximately 100 young people gain marketable computer and technology skills through Wire Up classes each year.

Local employers that have recently hired Institute for Hire Learning interns into permanent positions include Goodwill Industries, Low Income Investment Fund, and Pacific New Service.

“My plans for the future are to attend City College and study Sociology. Eventually, I want to get a good job helping people who are down on their luck, like I was. Larkin Street Youth Services has given me the extra step to get myself where I need to be. They are always there to push me when I need that extra push.”
-Jason, Job Readiness Class Graduate