YouthForce NOLA














Company Name: YouthForce NOLA – YouthForce NOLA is an education, business, and civic collaborative that builds bridges between school and work. They prepare New Orleans public school students for the successful pursuit of high-wage, high-demand career pathways and facilitate systems change to accelerate and sustain progress.
Name and Title: Cate Swinburn, President
College: University of Pennsylvania (bachelor’s); Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University (master’s degree)
Family Members: Brady (spouse), Josey (5)
Hobbies/Interests: New Orleans festivals (especially Freret Festival, Voodoo, and Jazz Fest), reading, word puzzles, and exercise

What are some of your biggest accomplishments for YouthForce NOLA?

  • Since our inception in 2015, we have accomplished the following:

– engaged more than 8,200 students in career awareness;

– impacted 17,000 students through educator soft skills training;

– coached over 1,000 students to complete paid internships; and

– supported approximately 2,400 students in earning industry-based credentials.

  • With COVID-19 disrupting programming and posing unique challenges for our young people and community, we pivoted quickly to continue delivering on our mission while factoring in the ever-evolving realities of the situation.
  • We essentially set out to do the impossible nearly seven years ago when we started, and we’ve done just that. Now, we’re ready to take on current challenges and carry on our work to bring about systemic change for sustained progress.

What drives you to work every day? What is your motivation?

I believe that talent and potential know no geographic, racial, or socioeconomic boundaries, yet access to career opportunities is typically limited by one’s network and schooling. I wake up every morning motivated to close this opportunity gap – creating access and forging connections between our talented young people and our innovative regional companies.

What attracted you to hire PRIME for your business advisory needs and have they met your expectations?

PRIME came highly recommended by a trusted partner and won me over with their commitments to transparency and excellence. It also helped to meet a fellow female business leader in Natalie!

If you could have three wishes for YouthForce NOLA, what would they be and why?

Are these attainable wishes, or fantasy!?!? 🙂 I’m limiting my answer to two, as they’re both pretty meaty.

  • Banish the mentality of “college or career!” It cannot be an either/or, but rather an “and” – some careers require a certificate, others an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, and others require many more years of training. All to say: we need to contextualize college, not track students one way or another!
  • Establish a recurring, sustainable funding source for career-connected learning. Career insights and soft skills are as essential to student success as the current TOPS “core”. We need public funding to match this priority rather than crossing our fingers for the annual generosity of philanthropy.

The last few years have been tough dealing with the pandemic. How has PRIME helped you navigate your business during this time?

  • Instrumental in helping us navigate the Paycheck Protection Program process
  • A critical partner in adjusting our budget to reflect our COVID pivot strategy
  • Flexible and supportive during Hurricane Ida

What makes PRIME unique and can you list three strengths that PRIME brings to the table?

  • Open to feedback and flexible – willing to adapt to how our organization operates
  • Willingness to learn – quickly got up to speed on fiscal requirements of our federal grants to ensure we are in compliance
  • Technical expertise – knowledgeable team members we trust!

If a business is considering a business consultant such as PRIME/Natalie Barranco, what advice would you offer to them? Why should a company consider PRIME?

They are thoughtful about how to make processes more efficient and effective. If you’re struggling with clunky accounting systems, they can help you streamline.