Trusting neighbors : work-readiness and work-based learning project

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Southern New Hampshire University
Despite St. Paul's robust economic growth, many households and communities are not experiencing positive growth. Serious gaps show by ethnicity that impact family and community stability and the overall progress of the City's economy. In particular, African-American young people between the ages of 14-21, who live in the Summit-University Community, are lagging behind in becoming a productive and skilled labor force. In 1999, the City of St. Paul's Summer Employment Program employed 127 African-Americans young people but 2200 lived in Summit-University community; thereby, showing a need to provide more job/career opportunities. In addition, the lack of family stability and serious disparities by race and ethnic origin in family income and social outcomes add to the plight of African-American young people. Some examples of other negative local indicators are the following: 50% of African American students graduate from high school on time, over 40% percent drop-out, over 65% receive subsidized school meals, 47% are homelessness. Also, African-American young people disproportionately have higher teen-pregnancy, delinquency and incarceration rates than other racial and ethnic populations in St. Paul. Without appropriate prevention and intervention strategies, the conditions will grow worse as time goes on for African-American young people in St. Paul. As an effort to address some of the issues, Trusting Neighbors initiated a Work-Readiness Training and Work-Based Learning Project that incorporated the support of a cross-section of stakeholders. Trusting Neighbors is a community-based organization, comprised primarily of African-American residents, who live in the Summit-University community. The organization's mission is to provide community-based development and social service related activities that foster a sense of community support, empowerment and self-sufficiency for disadvantaged African American, children, youth, adults and families, As a result of implementing the new project, outcomes were improved for individual participants, families, Trusting Neighbors, businesses, the broader community and the City of St. Paul. (Author abstract)