This Way ONward

This Way ONward employee

Unlocking career potential, one young person at a time.

This Way ONward is a program that boosts confidence in young people looking for an opportunity to shine, with a focus on serving Black and Latinx communities. Through one-on-one mentorship, coaching, and on-the-job skill building, This Way ONward provides a career rocket to a more secure future.



By 2025

Hire 5% of entry-level store employees from This Way ONward

Reach 20,000 youth through This Way ONward





Our Approach

Since 2007, This Way ONward (previously This Way Ahead) has provided structured training and valuable work experience for people aged 16–24, giving young people new life skills and confidence that supports their overall growth and employability. The program—which we have expanded through both local and national partnerships —also develops leadership skills among the employees who mentor This Way ONward participants.  

We integrate the lessons we learn about hiring for potential and providing the right supports for retail store employees to thrive, particularly those who are from underrepresented groups. Through Old Navy’s commitment to hire 5 percent of entry-level brand associates through This Way ONward by 2025—the vast majority of whom identify as people of color—the program also supports Gap Inc.’s Equality & Belonging goal to increase representation of Black employees by 50 percent in store leader roles in the U.S. by 2025.

To engage more people, Old Navy invests in high-profile storytelling campaigns that have featured celebrities like Magic Johnson and RuPaul. These campaigns promote the power of mentorship and show how hiring for potential not credential cultivates diversity, inclusion, equality and belonging

Here’s how the program works:

  1. Our employees connect with community partners who provide youth with job training and volunteer to teach youth skills they need to get and keep a job.
  2. When our teams are looking for high-potential talent, they interview youth and hire for potential, not credential.  
  3. When This Way ONward associates begin working, they receive post-hire support, including ongoing coaching from their store manager and a job coach from the community partner. They’re also paired with a Big Sib, a seasoned peer who serves as their go-to for questions and advice.  

Old Navy is committed to not only providing a way into a job, but also creating opportunities for advancement and the ability for This Way ONward alumni to build a career here.  Alumni can participate in training and mentorship workshops, aimed at building awareness and motivation to explore career pathways, while expanding their network and skills. This Way ONward alumni experience economic mobility by successfully moving beyond frontline positions at Old Navy stores. 

A Stepping Stone to Building Your Future

At 16, Kyle Persaud and his mother left Guyana and moved to the Bronx, New York. Shy and introverted, Kyle also had a lot of drive. His mom, who works at a café at Fordham University, sacrificed a lot to raise him on her own in a new country, and he wanted to make her proud. He worked hard to adapt to the fast pace of New York City, trying to “learn everything for two” so he could support his mom, just as she supported him.  

During his junior year of high school, Kyle learned about This Way ONward and decided to sign up. He wanted to challenge himself and working in retail would force him to break out of his shell. It would also be his first real job in the U.S. – a chance to learn about working in this country and build relationships with people from different backgrounds.  

At the end of the training program, he was hired at Old Navy on 125th Street in Harlem. At first, every week was a challenge, but gradually, the work felt natural. “I took my time, and whenever they had feedback for me, I took it as motivation to do better,” Kyle recalled. “Over time, I learned how to be more extroverted and talk to people.” Now, Kyle said, “I can’t stop talking. I’m a bubbly person, bringing positivity to the store.” 

Today, Kyle is working at the same Old Navy store, where he has been promoted to senior lead, in charge of customer operations. In the fall of 2022, after participating in This Way ONward alumni advancement programming, he was asked to step in as acting assistant manager for his store. His shyness has been replaced with confidence. He reflected, “I have a bigger title now, but I’m still able to be me. To be in a leadership role and inspire other people – that’s my goal.” 

Kyle also spent time as his store’s Community Leader, giving talks to new This Way ONward participants at the Boys & Girls Club. He always gives them the advice he once gave himself: take the risk and join the program. “This is a stepping stone to build your career and future,” he tells them. “Remember, your future is all based on what you want in life. You’re in control of your future.”