Youth + Jobs: A Pathway Out of Poverty, Incarceration and Violence

Interview by Caitlin Schnur, Workforce Research and Policy Fellow, NTJN

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Photo Credit: Mark Morelli

Serving communities in the Greater Boston area as well as Springfield, MA, Roca, Inc.’s mission is clear: to help at-risk youth currently on a path toward prison overcome violence and poverty.  Committed to shaping a future in which the highest-risk young people can succeed in their communities rather than being locked into the criminal justice system, Roca primarily targets 17 to 24-year-old men who are at a high risk of adult incarceration.  One of Roca’s central components is its Transitional Jobs (TJ) programming, which offers youth subsidized jobs primarily in general maintenance, custodial work, and landscaping sectors (as well as some work in culinary arts and manufacturing) to prepare them for unsubsidized employment.  Recently selected to lead a $27 million social impact financing initiative to reduce recidivism among at-risk youth in Massachusetts, Roca’s work is poised to become a model for the rest of the country. In this interview, Roca’s Chief Strategy and Administrative Officer, Lili Elkins, shares why it’s important to help high-risk youth get and keep jobs, describes why TJ is an effective employment program model for Roca participants, and explains why repeated failure can be a good thing.

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Spotlight on Women for Black Male Achievement: Page Bailey

Interview by Jonathan Philipp, Research and Policy Assistant, NTJN

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Page Bailey (far left) with Center for Urban Families (CFUF) staff and fellows.

To celebrate Women’s History Month this March, the Institute for Black Male Achievement has been sharing women’s perspectives – mothers, sisters, daughters, grandmothers, and leaders – on black male achievement. Since we love that idea, at the National Transitional Jobs Network (NTJN) we want to highlight another one of the inspiring #Women4BMA this month, Page Bailey. Page is a member of our B.MORE Initiative’s Community of Practice doing amazing work in the field of black male achievement as the director of the Practitioners Leadership Institute (PLI) at the Center For Urban Families (CFUF). Located in Baltimore, Maryland, CFUF’s core mission is to strengthen urban communities by helping fathers and families achieve stability and economic success. Read on to learn more about Page, her work, and what motivates her commitment to black male achievement.

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“This is Way Bigger than Me”: Connections to Success’ Damion Alexander Reflects on His Visit to Capitol Hill

By Caitlin Schnur, Workforce Research and Policy Fellow, NTJN

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At the end of February, staff and program participants from Connections to Success joined the National Transitional Jobs Network (NTJN) in Washington, D.C., to support our B.MORE Initiative in opening doors to employment and economic advancement for low-income black men.  Together, we made the rounds on Capitol Hill, speaking to delegates from Missouri and Kansas about how Connections to Success helps individuals with barriers to employment, including many African American men returning home from incarceration, transform their lives and achieve economic self-sufficiency. 

Damion Alexander, a Life Transformation Coach and Trainer at Connections to Success, played a central role in showing members of Congress how important it is for them to champion policies and programs that advance economic opportunity and strengthen families by helping low-income black men succeed in employment.

In this interview, Damion—who was on his first trip to D.C.—discusses the impact of his time on Capitol Hill; makes a policy pitch for reducing state-owed child support debts; and shares why he made a special stop at the Lincoln Memorial while exploring the city.

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DOL Announces $150 Million for Ready to Work Partnership Grants

By Melissa Young, Associate Director, NTJN


On the heels of President Obama’s Executive Office Report focused on Addressing the Negative Cycle of Long-Term Unemployment that highlighted subsidized employment and transitional jobs programs as strategies to help connect the long-term unemployed to work, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released the Ready to Work Partnership grant totaling $150 million. These grants will help prepare and place those facing long-term unemployment into good jobs.

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Historical Spotlight: Asa Philip Randolph

By Jonathan Philipp, Research and Policy Assistant, NTJN

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In honor of Black History Month, the National Transitional Jobs Network is presenting a blog series around the past, present, and future of employment for black males. The first blog post of the series focused on KISRA, a member of the B.MORE Initiative‘s Community of Practice. This blog is a historical spotlight on Asa Philip Randolph, a Civil Rights advocate and pioneer within the labor movement. Read on to learn about how Randolph changed the black labor movement.

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