In a piece linked to America’s rising high school drop out rate–only 68.8 percent of the nation’s students graduated in 2007–TIME reporter Jacob Templin shot a video of YouthBuild Newark students and alumni, which is posted on TIME’s website today.
The video, called “Giving Dropouts a Second Chance,” features interviews with our Executive Director Robert Clark and recent alumni Sara and Kayseem, who are among this year’s 103 YouthBuild Newark graduates. They were filmed working at a South Ward construction site, where they were renovating an apartment to be sold as affordable housing.
Watch the video here!
So for the past year, Latasha and Faheem rose at dawn to catch the bus to daycare before her YouthBuild Newark school day began at 8 a.m.
At 4 p.m., she hopped three buses to her job as a Pathmark cashier, which didn’t end until 11:30. Relatives helped take care of Faheem, her three-year-old, but sometimes he cried for her to stay. Latasha felt a pang of guilt, knowing she wouldn’t see him until the next day.
“It was hard. I wanted to stay home. But I had to do what I had to do because I knew it would better him in the long run,” says Latasha, who is 23. “I came here because I wanted to be his role model. I can’t tell him finish school if I didn’t. That would be hypocritical.”
“I would not say that I’m a new person, but I’m an improved person,” declared Ebony, one of three students to share her “story of transformation.”
“I’ve learned to trust people…I have faith in myself and I believe in myself,” she said. “I never would have guessed in a million years that I would be getting my high school diploma today.”
Transformation, both personal and collective, is an essential part of YouthBuild Newark’s mission. Since the organization was founded in 2003, students have inspired others with their narratives of hope and possibility. Yesterday, they also sang, read poetry and performed a rap song.
U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) announced that the Department of Labor (DOL) would award the funds as part of Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, designed to help create jobs during the recession.
“The YouthBuild program provides young adults in New Jersey with the opportunity to further improve their education while learning valuable job skills and providing meaningful services in their neighborhoods,” Lautenberg stated in a press release from his office.
YouthBuild Newark received $412,500 under the program. Isle Inc. in Trenton also received that amount. Two organizations that run YouthBuild programs received $400,000: New Jersey Community Development Corporation in Paterson and the Housing Authority of the City of Camden.
For more information, read the press release on Launterberg’s website here.
The students who were profiled have faced many obstacles. Jamillah, a graduate and administrative intern at YouthBuild Newark, resorted to dealing drugs to take care of her young children. Carlos dropped out of school to work for his dad, but wasted his time partying. Juan, who grew up in foster care, joined a gang and was locked up for stealing cars.
But they all completed the YouthBuild Newark program and found some stability. They have been taking college courses or planning to enroll. A key to their success has been the relationships formed with staff and classmates, who’ll be there for them even after they graduate.
The four sub-recipients are Brand New Day, Inc., serving Elizabeth, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark, serving Jersey City; Covenant House New Jersey, which will serve Atlantic City; and St. Paul’s Community Development Organization, serving Passaic City. The replication effort is supported by the State of New Jersey Office of the Attorney General (OAG), which will act as a key partner.
YouthBuild Newark’s youthful offender model helps juvenile ex-offenders between the ages of 16 and 21 includes education, job training, youth development, leadership training and community revitalization efforts. In particular, YouthBuild Newark students are taught construction skills that are applied on-site at affordable housing developments. Read More
That’s when Earlie, 18, decided to get a haircut, his first since age 14, when he began growing his shoulder-length dreads. Without them, even his five-month-old son, Mazi, had trouble recognizing Earlie until he adjusted to dad’s new look.
But the haircut helped Earlie get a job at FedEx as an “inbound docker,” operating a forklift. And it will save him a trip to the barber when he goes to Navy boot camp in August.