Ready for A Change
In Buffalo, there’s no shortage of opportunities for jobs, training, and further education. We’re privileged to have so many institutions, trade unions, and not for profits. These organizations, coupled with strong private sector growth in construction, health care, and other business, offer more opportunities for the youth in our community than have been available for a very long time.
That being said, many of those who’d benefit most from these opportunities don’t have the skills, experiences, and readiness to access them. Many of these young people are ready to make a start. They want to create a new direction for their lives. They want a change!
Build Job Readiness Skills
To access jobs like those at Solar City, to be successful in a union apprenticeship position, to enroll at a community college, or even to hold a job at Tim Horton’s, they need a broad set of readiness skills to enable that success. Very simply, they need to master the basics, skills many of us take for granted. They need to be able to show up on time, be prepared to work, work consistently without distraction, manage their personal lives, and work collaboratively with their peers.
Provide Education & Training
Similarly, they need requisite education and training. Many do not have diplomas or even GED’s. Many can’t measure or compute. They may have trouble reading and communicating effectively with their colleagues. They’re underskilled for many jobs and lack safety training and understanding.
Nurture A Support Network
Finally, they need a support network, with supportive mentors and a community of adults who will do everything possible to support their path.
We’ve designed a program, City Action Corps, that brings together over twenty years of educational experience with out of school young adults and the chronically underemployed. City Action Corps is a training, mentoring, and educational initiative creating a bridge between the youth in our communities who so desperately need an opportunity and the jobs, institutions, apprenticeship programs, and training initiatives existing right now.
Earning A Wage for Meaningful, Productive Work
The City Action Corps (CAC) members earn a wage for the days they’re working on the job (typically three days a week). CAC crews complete meaningful work projects for project sponsors throughout Western New York, and this fee-for-service model generates revenue to the program. It also creates a vehicle to teach basic job skills and team building, while instilling a strong work ethic. The remainder of the week CAC members spend time expanding their educational skills, completing service projects, job-shadowing professionals in their areas of interest, and designing an apprenticeship experience for their final semester in the program.
Ready for Life
The CAC is a year-long program, because our experience and research has concluded young people need time for these skills to become ingrained into their daily lives. Upon completion of the CAC program, young adults will be able to enter a community college, a union apprenticeship or community service program, or entry level job experiences (like Solar City) with the readiness, confidence, and educational experience needed to both complete and succeed at their next career opportunity.
We Need It Today
This program is needed not only in Buffalo, but in every urban area in this country, where youth unemployment is high and high school completion low. These young men and women are capable, they’re talented, they’re ready, and they’re able to make a difference in our communities. They need the structure and support to turn that intention into their daily reality.