Social Capital Builders and Capital One to Launch Opportunity Connections Program


Social Capital Builders (SCB), a Black-owned social enterprise that provides social capital education and training to a range of organizations across the U.S., in partnership with Youth Action Youth Build (YAYB), received funding from Capital One to launch a new pilot program called Opportunity Connections.

Beginning December 1, the 24-week program will empower Opportunity Youth, ages 18 to 26, who are disconnected from school and work opportunities, with the social capital-building skills and tools to create well-supported career paths. Geared to New York-based youth seeking careers in building maintenance and construction, the program will emphasize the value of social capital, connecting them with industry stakeholders and supportive adults who can provide career development support and labor market insights.

Five years ago, Edward DeJesus, Founder of SCB, created the company to help schools and career development programs build the social capital to support skills development, mitigate systemic racism and connect youth with advocates in various industries. To date, SCB has equipped over 1,200 job seekers and students with social capital literacy training for long-term success.

“Minority youth with poor social capital have lower labor force participation rates and fewer opportunities to discover their unique contribution to the world of work,” DeJesus noted. “Without social capital connections, youth miss job prospects and other opportunities to increase their economic mobility,” he said.

“Research highlighting the important role relationships play in determining job outcomes and upward socioeconomic mobility has validated what we’ve known intuitively for years; who you know matters,” said Jenn Walters-Michalec, Manager, Community Impact & Investment, Capital One. “Increased access to, and understanding of, social capital will allow youth to unlock the potential of their networks, and we could not be more thrilled to support this collaboration."

Collaborative by design, SCB will partner with YAYB in East Harlem, NY and Dreams YouthBuild Academy in Brooklyn, NY, to deliver the program to youth affiliated with both organizations. By bringing together like-minded nonprofits that encourage self-empowerment in young people, DeJesus hopes to expand the program’s impact. Building on the success of the pilot program, SCB hopes to launch Opportunity Connections in targeted regions of the United States. Looking ahead, SCB hopes to grow the organization’s partnerships and philanthropic base in the years to come.

Robert Taylor, Executive Director of YAYB, sees the collaboration as a natural fit. “We are excited to work with Social Capital Builders and Capital One to ensure that our young people have an opportunity to build two of the most important assets: social and financial capital,” he stated.

“We want to give youth the tools to build social capital with construction and building maintenance industry professionals so that we can help them leverage good-paying jobs. We pride ourselves on teaching social capital to the young people who need it the most. There is a calling and a necessity to ensure that those who are the lowest connected obtain the resources to be connected,” said DeJesus.

Opportunity Connections participants will receive nine weeks of social capital literacy education, followed by 15 weeks of hourly social capital-building support. Participants will also receive a $150 monthly stipend for completing social capital-building projects and activities. Financial literacy is another aspect of the program, so a percentage of the monthly stipend will be invested in a financial development account that will be opened for each participant.

Additionally, participants in the program will receive access to and training in SCB’s My Opportunity Hub (MyOH) platform for one year. This virtual platform teaches youth the value of social capital and gives them the tools to build it. MyOH will support Opportunity Seekers as they build their familial, developmental and gateway social capital assets.

About Social Capital Builders: Social Capital Builders, Inc. (SCB) is a Black-owned and operated social enterprise whose mission is to raise the social capital literacy and connections of 1 million youth and adults by 2025. SCB is focused on using the power of social capital literacy, analysis and development to advance youth and families; lifelong economic and social well-being. SCB is dedicated to serving all communities, especially those severely impacted by racism, systemic inequities and years of under and misrepresentation.


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