Deutsche Post DHL’s approach to creating lasting social impact through supporting youth in vulnerable situations

PL Staff

Around 267 million young people around the world are neither employed or in education, with those who grow up in difficult environments and lacking parental care, the most likely to face challenges securing stable and decent work.

2021 World Sustainability Awards Shortlisted Initiative

This example was shortlisted for the External Partnership Award at the 2021 World Sustainability Awards after being reviewed, scored and discussed by a panel of 17 global Chief Sustainability Officers. The judging panel was impressed by the progress being made and felt this initiative was one that should be shared and celebrated.


Around 267 million young people around the world are neither employed or in education, with those who grow up in difficult environments and lacking parental care, the most likely to face challenges securing stable and decent work.

This problem has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, with many of those in casual jobs being left out of work and young people without access to digital devices struggling to get an education.

Partnering with SOS Children’s Villages International, global logistics leader  Deutsche Post DHL (DPDHL) runs the GoTeach program, which connects disadvantaged young people with the company’s employees, who can share insights into the world of work and help them build their employability skills.

The program’s aims include:

  • Helping young people to recognize and foster their talents, and to develop their sense of self and self confidence
  • Providing them with early first-hand exposure to the working world
  • Providing DPDHL workers with the opportunity to give back to society and improve their job satisfaction

Furthermore, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the program was mobilized to help the young people emerge from the crisis with renewed self-confidence and well-prepared to find fulfilling work.

SOS Children’s Villages

SOS Children’s Villages is the world’s largest non-governmental organization focused on supporting children and young people without, or at risk of losing, parental care. Founded in 1949 SOS Children’s Villages is now present in 136 countries and territories providing abandoned and neglected children with a safe and loving home. Many SOS Children’s Villages are affiliated with kindergartens, schools, educational centers, medical centers or emergency relief programs, which are also available to children in need and families in the neighborhood.

DPDHL’s partnership with SOS is built on the following core principles:

  1. Deep anchoring in the SOS Children’s Villages Strategy 2030 and the Sustainability Roadmap of Deutsche Post DHL Group
  2. Joint decision making and co-creation of program strategy
  3. Mutual trust and teamwork
  4. Knowledge transfer in various areas


How the  GoTeach program works

GoTeach brings DPDHL’s employees together with disadvantaged young people, with the aim of boosting the young people’s employability skills while providing the DPDHL staff with an opportunity to make a difference to their communities, boosting employee engagement. The organization’s purpose of Connecting People, Improving Lives is the driving principle behind the program.

In practice, this means the DPDHL employees giving an insight into their roles and sharing their skills to help participants develop the attributes they need to succeed in the workplace. For the most part these are local employees, who can connect participants with opportunities in their area and tailor their advice to the particular culture and environment they are used to working in.

Employees are provided general training on areas such as the Code of Conduct, as well as specific training depending on the particular program they are involved with.

Their contribution includes a mix of:

  • Employability and skills workshops
  • Mentoring
  • Entrepreneurship programs

Facilitating exposure to the working world, through workplace visits or internships, for instance.

With the specific content organized on a local basis, the nature of these can vary from country to country. While the major focus is on employability, some activities also aim to educate the young people on sustainability and environmental topics.

Some recent examples of programs delivery included:

  • a comprehensive internship programme in South Africa
  • a job training course over 13 weekends in Brazil
  • Entrepreneurship workshops and support for young people in Mali

Following the end of each program, SOS continues to provide ongoing support to ensure participants have the opportunity to find jobs, continue their business or pursue their education.

How the GoTeach program is structured

Operating in 52 countries around the world, with focus on developing countries, GoTeach is coordinated on a global level, with the 6 member global lead team ( which includes 3 Global program managers, representatives of SOS Children’s Villages, Teach for All , DHL UK Foundation) proposing a strategy-level framework in consultation with the wider Global Team  (which includes 11 DHL employees, including three global and five regional programme managers and three regional programme co-ordinators, as well as representatives from the DHL UK Foundation and DPDHL’s partners SOS Children’s Villages and Teach For All)

This is then adapted to local conditions, with country teams from both SOS Children’s Villages and DPDHL working together to jointly develop programs that suit their particular environment. Every program runs on an annual basis, with the signing of a national agreement between both parties setting out the course for the year.

Measuring progress

In order to measure the success of the program in supporting the youth and engaging DPDDHL staff, a results framework and monitoring and evaluation plans, known as Theories of Change, were developed. These provide a graphical representation of possible risk factors that the program is set up to address, such as lack of role models, low access to the job market or in the case of DPDHL staff, lack of knowledge about the company’s corporate citizenship activities.

The Theories of change then set out the key activities that will help to overcome those risk factors (such as coaching and mentoring, skills training and work experience), the outputs and outcomes these will lead to and the impact these will have.

Indicators were developed to make it possible to measure short- and long-term results. This information is collected in a central database, into which each country is required to enter all planned activities, including budget, number of young participants and volunteers, and the number of volunteering hours. They must also provide a detailed description of the activities and their respective goals on an annual basis.

The KPIs tracked for each program include:

  • Number of Youth reached
  • Number of Volunteers from DPDHL reached
  • Number of volunteers hours – working time
  • Number of volunteers hours – free time
  • Number of Internships offered within DPDHL
  • Number of Job Shadowing offered within DPDHL
  • Number of activities
  • Number of youth employed

Following each activity, participants and volunteers are asked to complete an evaluation questionnaire to determine whether the goals have been achieved.

Going digital as a response to the coronavirus pandemic

The 2020 coronavirus outbreak provided a fresh challenge to GoTeach. Not only did travel restrictions and the limiting of in-person meetings disrupt the ability of the program to function, it also saw a fresh influx of interest from young people who had previously completed the program but had now been forced to leave jobs in the travel and tourism sector.

The teams responded to this challenge by adopting new digital approaches, allowing them to deliver much of the content online, with workshops held virtually and online mentorship arranged that could transcend international borders.

For instance, one group mentoring session attracted DPDHL volunteers, SOS employees and young people from 11 different countries, who gathered via Microsoft Teams. Sessions included:

  • The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and changes in the job market
  • Cyber Safeguarding
  • Careers in the ICT sector
  • Online learning

With lack of access to digital infrastructure identified as a challenge, the program also organized financial contributions for the purchase of technical equipment and donations of computers to support participation.

By adapting to this challenge, GoTeach was able to reach more than 5,000 young people in 2020, 40% up on the previous year.



Working together with SOS Children’s Villages, DPDHL has managed to deliver a successful program to help young people in more than 50 countries to become more self-confident and develop their skills.

Since being founded in 2010, the program has reached more than 22,000 young people, with the help of more than 8,000 volunteers. The scale of the scheme has accelerated, reaching over 5000 young people in 2020 alone, with 150 activities and 9,158 volunteering hours. Each year, a number of these go on to work for DPDHL.

Feedback scores gathered from participants showed that:

  • 95% agreed or strongly agreed they were more motivated to work hard for the future
  • 91% agreed or strongly agreed they
  • 90% agreed or strongly agreed they had learned how to better present themselves in a professional working environment
  • Other benefits cited by the participants included knowing what jobs they were qualified for, seeing more job opportunities and expanding their network

As well as helping the young people develop their skills, the program has had a positive impact for DPDHL employees, offering them the chance to gain experience acting as role models and feel more engaged with the company. An internal survey found that corporate citizenship activities such as GoTeach were ranked the third highest “engagement driver” among DPDHL employees. Meanwhile, a survey of employees who participated in the scheme found that 80% agreed or strongly agreed they were more satisfied with their job after taking part.

Advice for others

Having seen significant success with this project, DPDHL shared some key things to get right when partnering on social impact programs such as this:

  • Defining the purpose of the programme in alignment to the role of the company in the society
  • Investing in global partners who have a shared agenda – having the right partner is core to the mission
  • Setting parameters of functioning in the beginning – co-creation is always preferred
  • Allowing time and investing time in developing the relationship beyond monetary contribution

Next steps

The GoTeach program now forms a key part of DPDHL’s Corporate Citizenship Strategy which runs until 2025. Areas of focus for future investment aim to ensure the program achieves and leverages scale and critical mass, and include:

  • Developing multi-regional/global programs with special focus on Entrepreneurship
  • Expanding partnerships in other countries
  • Embedding Sustainable Development Goals such as SDG 5 (focusing on gender equality) into the programs framework.

Image credit: Ilya Platonov /

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