Here's an article by our intern, Amanda Macaluso, who attended a roundtable discussion about the solutions to creating jobs for at-risk Bronx youth. You can also check out the Daily News' article about the event here, where they mention that some groups may be too small to be helped by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's bill (but never really explained why).
By Amanda Macaluso
With the Bronx’s overall average of unemployed youth more than double the nation’s average, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand joined Bronx Assembly Members and clergy leaders at a roundtable this week to discuss job creation in the Bronx.
At the Bronx Christian Fellowship church at 1015 East Gun Hill Road on Tuesday, Aug. 16, the discussion was geared at the at–risk Bronx youth who are unemployed—20 percent—and the legislation that is trying to be passed that will shrink that population.
The Gillibrand sponsored legislation, "The Urban Jobs Act of 2011,” will give non-profit organizations the resources they need to do job training for at risk youth that will assist them in getting back on their feet and becoming an efficient member of the economy.
She anticipates the bill will pass later this year under a larger jobs bill.
“Supporting education and training for our Bronx youth is a smart investment that will help rebuild our local economy and pay dividends over the long term” the junior senator said. “Youth without jobs only hurt our economy, we’re missing out on possible entrepreneurs, doctors, etc.”
The average unemployment rate for minority youths in urban communities in July was approximately 39 percent for African-Americans and 36 percent for Hispanics. The city’s African American and Hispanic youths are twice as likely to drop out of school and make up more than 80 percent of the city’s detention centers. Additionally, the labor force participation rate for youth without a high school diploma is about 20 percentage points lower than the labor for participation rate.
“If our youth had jobs they would not be participating in illegal activities and the city’s recidivism rate would drop incredibly. However, education goes hand in hand with this without a high school diploma or a GED these kids will never get the building blocks they need for the workforce” Gillibrand said.
The Urban Jobs Act would create an Urban Jobs Program that would award competitive grants to national non-profit organizations in partnership with local affiliates, to provide a holistic approach for preparing youth ages 18 though 24 for entry into the job market. A national organization that received that grant would provide a comprehensive set of services including case management services, educational programming, such as GED preparation and skills assessment, employment readiness activities, and support services, such as housing assistance and health referrals.
“These are the types of initiatives that we support as we look to create both preventative as well as intervention solutions for Bronxites,” said Rev. Que English, a senior pastor at the Bronx Christian Fellowship Church. “We believe that implementing solutions from both perspectives will reduce the alarming school to prison pipeline statistics and offer hope where it appears to be absent.”
Gillibrand believes religious organizations are a good fit for building urban job growth; churches and similar institutions already focus on identifying troubled youth and putting them on a better path.
“The faith-based communities are at the heart of this legislation because they are the people that can identify these at–risk youth in their neighborhoods and point them in the direction of our programs to show them where they can get help and show them where they can better themselves. They will raise awareness to their followers,” Gillibrand said.