What are the Next Steps? Training, education coupled with support…
What do you want to be at age 18? I just want to be alive.
There is a desperate crisis among the youth in our city, and in cities across the country. The New York Times reported on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016 that 30% of 20-24 year old black men in NY City were out of work and out of school; nearly 50% in Chicago out of work and out of school. In Anacostia, DC the official rate for young people under age 25 not in school and not in work is 32%. We are losing the creativity, intelligence, and productivity of a generation of African American youth. To evade this reality, we lock up even juveniles in 16 and 17 years old in adult prison, taunt them on the streets with squad cars, expel from school as soon as possible. Who do we think will be the skilled, capable workforce of tomorrow if we do not start today to educate, train, mentor and support young people Today?
It is this group of young applicants Jubilee Jobs is focusing on with urgency. “Nothing stops a bullet like a job,” says Homeboys in Los Angeles. Few places in society create instant community, productive results, economic help and opening doors like a job in the marketplace.
Along with employment right now, all applicants are in need of additional education, skills and credentials. Washington, DC is littered with construction cranes, building high end housing across the city, in every neighborhood, even those traditionally affordable and modest communities. The construction industry is a tight network. Inner city youth who see the development next door to their homes and want to work have been unable to crack the code. However, at Jubilee Jobs we are beginning to unlock the system, and will send our first 22 year old applicant to excellent construction training and access to apprenticeship employment. This opportunity is in Maryland because DC few construction and vocational programs available.
A focus group of older men who ‘have been there’ and whose lives have been deeply affected by the failure of the society met to talk about what we could do. “One said, “I am insatiable with helping people. I want to present.” Others said, “Age 15 and 16 is too late. You must get into the schools at a younger age. “Music is a way to touch young people.” Everyone wants to share their lives, experience, and above all wisdom and caring. Education and trusted relationships with wise, committed and caring persons are always the key components to succeed in the journey out of poverty. .
The construction industry is just the beginning. Health care, hospitality, food service, youth work, transportation, and entrepreneurship are among the industries we are connecting with for partnerships, education and trusted mentors.
March 15, 2016 our first construction trainees begin their C.O.R.E. program, the first step into a career in the trades. Soon they will no longer be watching the buildings going up. They will be the builders.
Today is fifty years since African Americans first marched across the Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama to register to vote for the first time. As they approached the bridge, the marchers were met by brutal vicious attacks by the Selma police and others. Martin Luther King turned the crowd around and decided they would try another day. He then sent out a call to caring people, especially ministers from around the country , to join the group in a second attempt to register to vote. Gordon Cosby, minister of Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC responded. He got on a plane and left immediately.
On March 7 the group set out again to vote, this time accompanied by hundreds of people from across the US. They were trained in peaceful demonstrating and non-violent tactics by a teen age boy. He said, “if you have any weapons on you, empty them out right now. I aint gonna die for no switchblade.”
As the marchers approached the Pettus Bridge, they again met police and state troopers. This time there were no attacks, violence, or brutality. Martin Luther King fell to his knees and the group began to pray, Then they turned around and went back to their homes. Soon after, the Voting Rights Act was passed in Congress, opening the door for all Americans to exercise their right to vote.
As Gordon Cosby returned to DC he flew over a large facility called Junior Village, housing over 900 children who were not able to be with their families. He knew then that this was our Selma – to find homes for all of those children and close Junior Village.
Soon the Church of the Saviour began a new mission, For Love of Children to find homes and loving care for all of the children. We gathered on Saturday mornings for prayer, singing, and inspiration. Then we spread out across the city, knocking on homes and asking people if they would like to have a foster child. Who knows what they thought about early morning visitors, but amazingly many said Yes they had love to share with a child in need. My family was part of that mission.
FOR LOVE OF CHILDREN was one of the early ministries of the Church of the Saviour, leading to the founding of additional missions, including Jubilee Housing in 1973 and Jubilee Jobs in 1981.
Junior Village was closed in 1973. We have crossed many bridges for civil rights since then, but there are many more still to cross. Jubilee Jobs is especially aware of the struggles of the young black men today, ages 16-24, desperately in need of work and direction. Often arrest and prison have set their course for life. Together we will march for meaningful work for all through compassionate job placement and community support.