Aug 12, 2019
Eshauna Smith knows first-hand what it takes to break through barriers and achieve success. The eldest child in a family struggling with poverty, she forged a different future. This experience informs her leadership of Urban Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to helping young people from challenging backgrounds attain economic success. As Eshauna learned, having adults stand up for her was transformation. Their support, from helping with Girl Scout camp applications, to summer jobs and internships, propelled her through degrees from UC Berkeley and UT Austin. Now Eshauna is persuading a new set of adults, in high schools and corporations, to stand up for the young people Urban Alliance serves. She does this by engaging them in a model that prepares high school students for higher education and successful employment. Urban Alliance partners with high schools to place motivated seniors into 9-month paid internships with corporations seeking good employees. Front line staff provide students with soft skills training and are available 24 hours a day to corporate supervisors. The model is working. Urban Alliance is celebrating the graduation of 500 high school seniors from these internships and expanding to new cities and industries.