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Panera Bread Foundation Announces $2.25 Million in Grants to Empower At-Risk Youth

by Busines Newswire
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In a significant commitment to fostering opportunity for future generations, the Panera Bread Foundation has awarded $2.25 million in grants to 30 nonprofit organizations nationwide. These grants will directly support programs that empower at-risk, underserved, and historically underrepresented children and youth, helping to equip them with the skills and resources to become leaders in their communities.

The Panera Bread Foundation recognizes the critical role nonprofit organizations play in bridging opportunity gaps for young people. Its vision of a world where “young people can dare to dream and where opportunity and economic mobility are accessible and equitable” resonates deeply with its grant recipients.

“Together, we share a common vision and purpose with our grantees, and we are proud to support their programs for children and youth to unlock their full potential and grow as leaders,” said Debbie Roberts, chief operating officer at Panera Bread and board president for the Panera Bread Foundation.

The foundation’s Give Change for Children program allows Panera Bread customers to round up their purchases to the nearest dollar at participating bakery-cafes. These contributions directly fuel the foundation’s grant funding, creating a powerful cycle of generosity that empowers both donors and recipients.

The 2024 grant recipients represent a diverse range of nonprofits working tirelessly to equip young people with the tools they need to succeed. Some programs focus on college readiness, offering campus visits, application assistance, and financial aid planning. Others prioritize education in the STEAM fields of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math, cultivating future leaders in these critical fields.

Career readiness initiatives, including internship programs and job placement resources, empower young people to enter the workforce with confidence. Additionally, after-school and summer programs provide invaluable opportunities in robotics and computer programming, fostering innovation and technical skills.

The impact extends beyond academic and professional development. One-on-one mentoring programs connect students and families with invaluable guidance as they navigate life after high school. These holistic approaches create a strong foundation for success, ensuring young people feel supported and empowered to reach their full potential.

The need for this kind of support is growing. According to The Washington Post, after about a decade of then-teen job decline in the millennial generation from 2004 to 2014 — which saw the share of teenagers with jobs or looking for them fall from 44% to 34% — the trend is shifting.

After a dip in the labor force during the pandemic, Generation Z has started to increase that number again. The Washington Post reports that as of January 2024, 37% of teenagers either have or are looking for a job.

The full list of 2024 Panera Bread Foundation grant recipients showcases the breadth of support offered:

— Achieve Miami Inc.

— An Achievable Dream

— Apprentice Learning

— Artists For Humanity

— Big Brothers Big Sisters (various chapters)

— Boys & Girls Clubs (various chapters)

— Boys Hope Girls Hope of St. Louis

— Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics (BEAM)

— College AIM

— College Possible Milwaukee

— College Visions

— Construction Ready

— createMPLS

— Foundation for a College Education

— GirlForward

— Girls Inc. of Alameda County

— Guadalupe Center

— Junior Achievement of Central Maryland

— Life Pieces to Masterpieces

— Oasis — A Haven for Women and Children

— STEM Paths Innovation Network

— Urban League Twin Cities

— Wings for Kids

— Youth Eastside Services