Jeffery T.D. Wallace is the president and CEO of LeadersUp, a nonprofit that former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz hand-picked him to set up in 2013. The 501(c)(3) organization connects young people from disadvantaged backgrounds with job opportunities and training and helps employers reduce turnover in the process. Formerly the chief of staff for the L.A. Urban League, Wallace was offered $1 million and access to 18,000 Starbucks suppliers, then tasked with “unleashing the talent needs of those suppliers on low- and middle-income communities,” he recalls. In its first year, LeadersUp helped the employers it worked with convert 250% turnover into 70% retention and lower interview-to-hiring ratios from 18:1 to 3:1. Five years since its founding, LeadersUp has connected 5,000 young people with jobs at over 70 major employers and boasts an average annual retention rate of 67%.
LeadersUp, says Wallace, represents “the next generation of talent management consultants,” equipping businesses with “a robust pipeline of diverse talent” and “generating a tremendous amount of social impact.” He estimates the economic return from every young person who’s hired and retained through LeadersUp at $1.3 million.
The nonprofit now has five times its initial budget, 20 full-time staffers, and operates in Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and Chicago. “I’m from the hood,” Wallace reflects. “I was blessed to have two great parents and a wonderful village around me that poured into me. I believe every young person deserves that.”