Friday, March 25, 2011

Changing Lives

Among the programs at CitySquare of which I am most proud, is WorkPaths.

WorkPaths is a jobs driven, living wage employment strategy that focuses on working with our neighbors to providing the training for employment with a future. There are three areas of training: Build4Success, a 12 week commercial construction training program; a Paths2Success, a 10 week technology based soft-skills training program and Career Paths, which works with people by providing them with coaching and mentoring that makes them more attractive job candidates.

WorkPaths is a retooled model of job training that evolved from a less efficient model that we used when I came to CitySquare. It has grown from a $80,000 dollar a year program, as recently as 5 years ago, to a nationally recognized program with a budget of nearly $500,000. WorkPaths Build 4Success program has won the Construction Users Round Table Award and has also received recognition and WorkPaths itself has won a Community Partners award from WorkSource Dallas.

WorkPaths in 2009, Build4Success had am 89% graduation rate and from all programs 81% went on to find employment, or enrolled in community college or apprenticeships.

There are some great stories of men and women who have turned their lives around and who have climbed out of poverty through employment. Our Larry James, our CEO/President profiles on of those stories, still in the making today in his blog. It's the story of Sam.

" Sam has struggled with a number of issues since completing the Build4Success program in 2009. When he originally enrolled in B4S, he had been out of prison on parole only a few months after having served 17 years of a 45 year sentence for armed robbery. He got his driver’s license and then landed a job with Ed Bell Construction; after he went to work he was doing well. He saved enough to buy a truck (a deal through Ed Bell, they arranged for him to purchase one of the trucks their company was selling and he got a great deal from them). After working at Ed Bell for about 9 months, he was offered a better position with Azteca-Omega. The job at Azteca-Omega would provide him with benefits and training. He left his job at Ed Bell on the Friday before last Easter and was to start with Azteca-Omega on Monday following Easter (2010) when he was shot early Easter morning in the eye, it was a case of mistaken identity. I think most of us are somewhat familiar with Sam’s story surrounding the shooting but to refresh – Sam lost his eye..."

Sounds horrible doesn't it?! It is. But there's more to it. The great thing is Sam is making remarkable recovery and will soon be a part of a new WorkPaths venture: A partnership between CitySquare/WorkPaths and Habitat for Humanity in a transitional jobs program in residential construction. WorkPaths trainees will assist in building at least 50 homes over the next two years with some of our neighbors and people from the southern Dallas neighborhoods where the homes will be built. One of the first employees in the transitional jobs program? Sam!

Read the rest of Sam's story here. Read more about WorkPaths here. And remember, if you aren't supporting our work at CitySquare, remember, you're missing an opportunity to invest in people like Sam!

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