To break the cycle of incarceration of youth at risk,Sam’s Club has revealed its participation in Unlock Potential, a voluntary employment program designed to provide real career opportunities for young people most at risk of imprisonment.
In March 2022, the Responsible Business Initiative for Justice unveiled the revolutionary program made possible by walmart (via Walmart.org Center for Racial Equity). Unleash the potential aims to confront economic immobility at the source providing meaningful and long-term career opportunities for young people at high risk of criminal justice involvement. The program allows companies to use employment to promote racial equity and disrupt the prison pipeline while inclusive create the next generation of business leaders.
Unlock Potential will focus on individuals between the ages of 16 and 24 who are most likely to end up in the prison system: those who have been in the juvenile justice system, who have been victims of sex or human trafficking , whose parent was imprisoned before the age of 18, or from a foster family.
Through Unlock Potential, businesses can help advance racial equity while preventing the lifelong economic consequences of a criminal record. A first sentence can reduce lifetime earnings by more than 30% by more than 30%. A criminal record reduces the likelihood of a callback or job offer by nearly 50%, and the magnitude of the criminal record penalty is twice as great for black applicants as for white applicants. Black Americans are currently incarcerated five times more than whites, and black youth are up to six times more likely than whites to be “opportunity youth.” — a term that refers to people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are not in education or employment. By creating career paths to prevent incarceration, companies joining Unlock Potential can disrupt intergenerational cycles of poverty.
“We know that at-risk youth have limited opportunities and often end up unemployed or out of school, and as a society we need to intervene before it reaches that point,” said Sam’s Club CEO Kathryn McLay . “Programs like this help. We can put young people on a positive path as they begin their adult lives. And even if they leave after their time with us, we’ve provided them with real-life and work skills they can take anywhere.
Programs like Unlock Potential not only benefit at-risk youth, but are also a valuable solution for businesses during the ongoing hiring shortage.
In addition to its new partnership with Unlock Potential, Sam’s Club’s already has an internship program for high school students in underserved communities that provides on-the-job training and basic life skills, as well as a access to free college education through the Live Better U program. To date, Sam’s Club says it has seen a nearly 70% conversion rate for interns moving into full-time positions, and the company has added more than 300 high school interns to the program this summer.
Sam’s Club joins American Family Insurance, Ben & Jerry’s and Delta Air Lines in the design phase of Unlock Potential — provide feedback on program structure, with input from experts and community organizations. Unlock Potential is set to launch a 12-month pilot program in October.
sam’s club, a Bentonville, Ark.-based division of Walmart Inc., operates nearly 600 clubs in the United States and Puerto Rico. Every week, approximately 230 million customers and members visit Walmart’s more than 10,500 stores and numerous e-commerce websites under 46 banners in 24 countries, with approximately 2.3 million associates worldwide. Based in Bentonville, Ark. Walmart USA is #1 on the PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of leading food and consumables retailers in North Americawhile Sam’s Club ranks eighth.