“If it wasn’t for Enterprise for Youth, I would have given up on applying for jobs especially now that it’s so hard to find jobs. But after losing my job at Target during the pandemic, I remained hopeful because I learned that there are always jobs out there and that you have to wait and be persistent. Now, I work at a cake shop using the skills I learned from the internship that I got through Enterprise.”
In 2019, as a junior in high school, Damaica Espy enrolled in Enterprise for Youth. She completed the job-readiness training program and rounded out her Enterprise experience with a summer internship at V Boutique in San Francisco.
“My internship was so fun and it opened up my eyes to the workplace.”
Damaica loves fashion and hopes to continue to work in retail when she attends college next year. Yet, Damaica’s main goal is to help kids, which is not surprising since she has five younger siblings for whom she strives to be a role model. To make her dreams come true, Damaica came to Enterprise with an interest in social work and law.
Even with a diverse set of professional pursuits—fashion, social work, and law—Enterprise was able to place her in an internship that touched on all three! At V Boutique, Damaica had the benefit of witnessing a nonprofit that gives back to girls. The store owner, Victoria Zitrin, is a lawyer who guided Damaica in her decision to follow a career in social work. Plus, she got to work in fashion and gain the skills needed to land her next job in retail! She’s now putting her cashier skills to good use while also making people happy by selling cakes.
“It is scary trying to figure out what to do,” says Damaica, but she felt supported by Enterprise every step of the way. She shared two poignant moments:
“My parents are both deaf and my first language is ASL. Knowing this makes me feel special, but it can be hard having to interpret for my parents. At Enterprise gatherings, they had an interpreter. They are the ONLY program that does that!”
“Everyone at Enterprise was so nice and supportive and made everything work for each individual student. Once I couldn’t get the money to come to the workshops, so they gave me a Clipper card for Bart.”
Now as Damaica is applying for college, going to school, and working a part-time job, she is still implementing what she has learned from Enterprise for Youth, such as filling out applications and writing essays.
Damaica will be the first in her family to attend college.
Damaica Espy’s story demonstrates the impact Enterprise has on individual lives. This humble and smart young lady has not only gained important workplace skills but has also built confidence and faith in the process. Enterprise taught her to believe and persevere. Her internship experience directly related to her professional field of interest and opened doors for future employment so she may support herself while in school. And, she didn’t have to do it on her own. Enterprise’s supportive staff and community made her feel valued. The program facilitated connections, something she didn’t feel she would have found on her own. In fact, Damaica has a great relationship with her manager from V Boutique and they are still in communication over a year later. She also made “fun friends” whom she will know for a long time.
Please take a moment to put yourself in Damaica’s shoes… Think about what it was like when you were a teenager. Perhaps you felt societal pressure to figure out what you wanted to do and what would come next. You may have been one of the lucky ones with guidance from family or other adults. Or you may have felt like a fish out of water, not knowing where to start. You may have had parents, like Damaica, who told you to do what you feel is in your heart but hadn’t themselves experienced college. Whatever you may have felt as a youth, it probably was overwhelming and daunting to some degree. Countless times, supporters of Enterprise have said, “I wish I had this program when I was young.” Enterprise makes the transition from high school to the working world easier. Enterprise provides supportive and caring environments in which youth can flourish.
As CEO, I have seen how Enterprise has positively impacted the lives of individuals in our community. I am constantly touched. As a lifelong educator and as someone who strongly believes in equity, I can firmly say that Enterprise for Youth empowers young people and develops a stronger future one youth at a time.
I can see Enterprise’s impact and I know the work makes a difference and I want to ask you to consider making a gift to Enterprise, so we may continue to improve and grow our programs. We want to reach more young people like Damaica and offer more connections and opportunities for each young person.
Working with primarily under-resourced youth, we provide the necessary building blocks for their futures and in doing so we are creating a more inclusive and vibrant workforce now and for generations to come. I hope you will join us in our endeavors by donating to our program.
We greatly value your support and couldn’t do it without you!
Chief Executive Officer