Walmart Foundation Awards $5 Million to Heller

June 13, 2012

WALTHAM, Mass. – Today the Walmart Foundation announced more than $20 million in grants to six nonprofit partners including $5 Million to the Brandeis Center for Youth and Communities.  The Brandeis grant will support work and learning programs that will employ, educate and support nearly 3,000 inner city youth in Phoenix & Maricopa County, Ariz.; New York City; Hartford, Conn.; Philadelphia; Chicago; Detroit; and Los Angeles.  The Brandeis Center serves as the National Program Office and in the role provides grants ranging from $500,000 to $800,000 to government and nonprofit agencies responsible for implementing the innovative designs.  Teenagers will work 150 hours over six weeks doing real work for pay at hundreds of worksites, earning an average of $1200 for the summer.  Brandeis researchers provide onsite technical assistance to grantees and monitor and evaluate the quality and impact of the work and learning programs. 

The Summer Jobs grant responds to the call-to-action issued by President Obama for the private and public sectors to join the Administration in helping to address record unemployment among America’s youth.  This initiative, called Summer Jobs+, challenges business leaders and communities to work together to create summer jobs and other employment opportunities for low-income youth this year. A report issued by the White House Council for Community Solutions finds that increased collaboration between governments, grant makers and nonprofits is important for educating and preparing young people for jobs.

Professor Susan P. Curnan, Director of the Center for Youth and Communities and study leader for many summer youth initiatives agrees with the power and necessity of the partnership approach: “The challenging social and economic conditions in this country are such that no one entity can go it alone” and “summers matter – over the long-term, youth who participate in year round programs or multiple summer experiences can improve educational outcomes, are less likely to drop out, have less difficulty getting and keeping jobs, and have higher lifelong earnings than those who do not.”

Statistics bear out the urgency for investments like Walmart’s.

Low rates of high school graduation, high rates of children living in poverty, and low rates of youth employment together make a compelling case for providing summer youth employment. 

  • Thirty percent of students do not graduate from high school on time; for African American and Hispanic students, the figure is 50%.  Only about one in four high school graduates attend college; only about half of those who start will finish. 
  • The percentage of children whose parents had secure employment was the lowest in a decade, the percentage living in poverty (one in five children) was the highest in a dozen years, and the percentage in food-insecure households was the highest since monitoring began. 
  • During this same period, teenage employment rates plummeted to the lowest levels in 60 years – even as the youth population increased.  Just from April to July 2010, youth unemployment increased by 571,000 (U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL)), but the federal government zeroed out funds for summer youth employment programs, leaving millions of kids idle for the summer.

“At Walmart, we recognize the need to support the development of our nation’s youth,” said Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of the Walmart Foundation. “We know that providing access to job opportunities and skills training during the summer months will allow students to return to school healthy, prepared and ready to succeed. By working closely with the Heller School’s Center for Youth and Communities at Brandeis University, we can help kids have better summers and ultimately, better lives.”

About the Center for Youth and Communities at the Heller School, Brandeis University

Within the Heller School’s mission of “knowledge advancing social justice,” the Center’s objective is to “make knowledge productive” and help practitioners and policy makers prepare young people for college, work and life.  The work is guided by three goals:  1) using science-based research to improve the quality and impact of programs and policies for youth and communities;  2) strengthening leadership and management in philanthropy, nonprofits and socially responsible businesses;  3) applying results-oriented leadership and evaluation methods to deepen public understanding, strengthen programs, prove the efficacy of particular models and shape policies.

 About Philanthropy at Walmart 

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are proud to support initiatives that are helping people live better around the globe. In May 2010, Walmart and its Foundation made a historic pledge of $2 billion through 2015 to fight hunger in the U.S. The Walmart Foundation also supports education, workforce development, environmental sustainability, and health and wellness initiatives. To learn more, visit

Read the BrandeisNOW story, "Heller center to manage $5m of Walmart jobs fund"

Media Contact

The Heller School welcomes media inquiries on this and all other news items. Email  Susan P. Curnan or call 781-736-3771.

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