Kindred DIS June 2015

Frank Van Bree was a brand marketer working for Motorola’s Nextel business when UrbanFUTURE asked him to help with their marketing. By 2001, Van Bree was asked to lead UrbanFUTURE, a St.Louis-based youth mentoring program that exposes disadvantaged youth to career opportunities and provides a solid framework of support in addition to regular schooling.

Said Van Bree: “They brought me into an eighth grade classroom, and my partner started screaming at these kids. The boys in the front – you’d think they might be fearful. You’d think they might be challenged. There was nothing. Absolutely nothing. A blank look in their eyes. I was told, ‘If you’re not careful, you’re going to be up here, too.’ And, a year later, there I was at the front of that classroom, trying to make a difference.”

The students are three or, in some cases, five years behind in reading. Thirty-three percent of St. Louis youth drop out of school before graduation, not necessarily due to lack of motivation but because the students lack visible models of success. Ripe with talent, creativity and drive, too often these students simply do not have exposure to some of the best career opportunities.

The cost of students who do not graduate or matriculate is significant:

• 7,000 kids a day drop out of high school
• The average cost of a high school drop out to society is $300,000 over a lifetime.

“11 million Americans remain unemployed while 49% of employers struggle to fill jobs, and 37% youth from the ages of 20-24 are unemployed. We have youth who want to work but who lack opportunity and lack skills. We have Successful Companies that want to hire a diverse workforce. UrbanFUTURE exists to bridge this gap.”

UrbanFUTURE says that their job is to ensure our kids can dream so that they can answer this fundamental question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Kindred has partnered with UrbanFUTURE to give talented youth a firsthand look into the many career paths within healthcare. The workforce pipeline between Kindred’s rehabilitation division, RehabCare, and Urban FUTURE gives students:

• Exposure to career options and professional speakers
• Tangible experience at career sites through field trips
• Support and engagement with mentors
• Job readiness training
• Points of entry, like internships and jobs

UrbanFUTURE opens many doors for students, but mentors usually feel equally rewarded by the challenges presented by providing long-term guidance.

“The mentor experience has been extremely rewarding and has challenged me in a way I haven’t been challenged before,” said one mentor. “My challenge for her is to help her stay focused. I know becoming a pediatrician is a big goal,” said another.

This program shows the commitment that both organizations have to seeing these students make the most of their futures. To recognize them for their service and dedication to this partnership and these programs, two awards were presented to Kindred leadership at the 2015 Diversity & Inclusion Symposium:

Jim Douthitt, Senior Vice President, Skilled Nursing Services, RehabCare – Global Impact Award
Audra Early, Division Vice President – 2nd Annual Global Impact Award

Thank you to all of our “career connectors” from both UrbanFUTURE and Kindred for helping our youth realize incredible opportunities.