This is an exciting week for

Yesterday, along with more than a dozen leading, U.S.-based companies we announced the formation of the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative, which has the goal of being the nation's largest employer-led coalition committed to creating pathways to meaningful employment for America's young people.

The coalition has the collective objective of engaging at least 100,000 Opportunity Youth--16-24 year olds who face systemic barriers to jobs and education--by 2018 through apprenticeships, internships, training programs, and both part-time and full-time jobs.

Along with, the founding companies include Alaska Airlines, Cintas, CVS Health, Hilton Worldwide, HMSHost, JCPenney, JPMorgan Chase, Lyft, Macy's, Microsoft, Potbelly Sandwich Shop, Starbucks, Taco Bell, Target, Walgreens and Walmart.

This effort is personal to me for a couple of reasons.

From a business perspective I can attribute a lot of our early success to the smart, ambitious, and young talent base we have.

There is an infectious energy in the room when you start a company with a bunch of eager, wide eyed, and green talent. Some of our best ideas have come from people who are just starting out in their careers. Why? Because young, entry level employees bring forward a fresh perspective and an ambitious sense of empowerment that is contagious.

When you create the right structure to harness and promote this behavior you can move incredibly fast as a business, while giving your employees a high degree of motivation and sense of fulfillment.

We also gain a lot from the diverse set of disciplines and roles our entry-level employees get to experience. We launched less than 2 years ago and since that time multiple people in our office have worked in sales, account management, marketing, and other areas of the business. This has led to a well-rounded and empathetic workforce where collaboration dominates over silos.

We have people who started with zero experience and we have seen them thrive as they take on more responsibilities and challenges. Some people have finished their undergraduate degrees and others have gone back to school to refine their skills. It's awesome (and it is exactly how we want to build our culture). We always want to live at the intersection of opportunity and empowerment.

As great as that is for us, we know that we can use the same principles to help our community. About 6 months ago we made a conscious decision to invest our time, money, and resources to help at risk and homeless youth in the greater Seattle area. We know that in so many cases what people need most is mentorship, guidance, and an opportunity to feel inspired through empowerment and a safe place to call home.

Joining the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative was a no-brainer for us.

In the U.S. alone, there are currently 5.6 million youth between the ages of 16 and 24 who are out of school and not working. At the same time, there are 3.5 million unfilled jobs in the U.S. Jobs that do not require a four-year degree as an entry point. For employers looking to fill these jobs, young, motivated workers are a vital and untapped resource. However, young people are often unaware that these opportunities are available, nor are they aware of the steps they need to take to pursue and secure these jobs.

In response, the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative is committed to create the pathways young workers need to build skills, attain credentials and ultimately secure a job. Companies engaged in the coalition will help to launch careers for young people who are just entering the workforce through internships, apprenticeships and on the job training, as well as to develop the potential of youth who have some work experience but are looking to gain new skills that will lead to a successful career.

The lesson here for anyone who is thinking about how they can blend their business, philanthropic, and community ambitions with the entrepreneurial spirit that has gotten them this far--do something that you are personally passionate about--and let your values guide.