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How Ben & Jerry's is supporting at-risk youth

Words by Smiley Team

Ben & Jerry’s is known for a lot of things, from their off-the-wall ice cream flavors to “Peace Pop,” the company’s first foray into social causes. The company has made it a part of themselves to stand up and support social causes they care about. 

And now they’re stepping in to help support a cause at helping at-risk youth stay out of jail. 

The company recently announced its participation in Unlock Potential, an employment program for young people who are at the greatest risk of incarceration. The goal of the program is to promote racial equity while also putting a barrier in front of the poverty-to-prison pipeline. 

“The importance of second-chance employment efforts cannot be overstated. But hiring individuals when they’re released from prison isn’t enough – we have to be taking steps to stop them ending up there in the first place,” said Matthew McCarthy, CEO of Ben & Jerry’s.

“Data show that meaningful employment opportunities are one of the most impactful ways to prevent future incarceration. Unlock Potential will create those first chances.”

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Ben & Jerry’s wants to use Unlock Potential to expand their work in racial equity and provide support to those that need it most. 

“Unlock Potential is a critical component in the advancement of our Racial Equity work,” said Allie Reid, Ben & Jerry’s Sr. Retail Racial Equity and Inclusion Manager in a press release. “Creating meaningful career opportunities for Black and Brown at-risk youth supports skill development and economic mobility in the communities we serve and exist in.”

Unlock Potential plans to focus on the 4.4 million Americans identified as “disconnected youth”: individuals aged 16 to 24 who are neither in education nor employment, while also helping businesses that are dealing with the labor shortage.

“Unlock Potential will focus on a subset who have experienced one or more of the following additional risk factors for incarceration: an incarcerated parent, sex or human trafficking, the juvenile justice system, or the foster care system,” the release reads. “By opening up economic opportunities for these individuals, participating employers can help address the root causes of mass incarceration.”

Inspired to Act?

DONATE: The Sentencing Project supports social change and racial equity and much of the data that Unlock Potential uses in their work comes from them.

SUPPORT: Offer insight and support to the people in your life that need it most. If there are kids that might be at-risk around you try and offer advice. Consider volunteering at at-risk shelters or Boys and Girls clubs in your area.


This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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