A job board for homeless youth

Impakt, Home Depot and Workopolis partner to create a long-term solution to youth homelessness.

Social responsibility agency and B Corp. Impakt has partnered with Home Depot and Workopolis to create HireUp, a national job board geared towards helping homeless youth find work with some of Canada’s largest employers.

Developed by Impakt with the support of the two partner companies, the job board helps youth who have experienced homelessness find employment at a company that is right for them by partnering with 18 youth-serving organizations (YSOs) across Canada. Employers have to pay a fee to post jobs on the site, but all profits from HireUp will be re-invested into the YSOs to help them improve their programs. The YSOs will also provide the companies with support for employees for up to six months after they’ve been hired, and Impakt also worked with the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness at York University to provide academic guidance.

Home Depot is one of the companies with listings on the site at launch, as do Nordstrom, NEI Investments and home improvement company Peak Products.

HireUp will be promoted through a PSA campaign by Impakt later this year, and will feature youths who have experienced homelessness telling their stories. Workopolis, in addition to providing the technology the site is built on, will be taking a B2B approach to promoting it, directly engaging companies who use the site through its reps and email newsletters.

This is Workopolis’ first foray into youth unemployment and homelessness as a CSR program. Andrea Ziegler, president of Workopolis, says it is part of a larger strategy the company is launching this year.

“We’ve been reporting on and tracking employment numbers for years, and what we see are consistently high rates that aren’t getting better,” she says. “Youth as a whole have a lot of confusion about how to get into the workforce and what skills they need, so this is part of a strategy we’ve developed around the issue for 2016.”

For Home Depot, this is the latest in a number of initiatives aimed at combating the issue through its charitable arm, the Home Depot Foundation. While its previous work has been based around development, grants, research and community engagement, this addresses a more systemic side of the issue.

“Our operating plan for the Foundation takes a holistic approach to the issue,” says Amanda Cornelisse, manager of community affairs at the Home Depot Foundation. “The bricks and mortar piece of it is obvious, since we’re a home improvement retailer and that’s how people see us helping. But at the same time, we recognized through working with Impakt that it’s more complicated than just putting a roof over their head. It’s about giving them life skills that they need to realize a brighter future.”

Paul Klein, founder of Impakt, says HireUp creates awareness among employers around the possibility of hiring homeless youth, and what the benefits are.

“Businesses need employees. That’s a business priority,” he says. “In this case, they can address their recruiting needs and a potential business problem while contributing to ending homelessness. And because of the partnerships and the people involved, we were able to establish a scaled, national social enterprise very quickly.”

Klein adds that the job board also provides an opportunity for data collection and analysis.The hope is that HireUp will provide data to organizations like the Home Depot Foundation and the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness that can be used to gain further insights about the best ways to combat unemployment among the homeless.