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A campaign to create 1,000 summer jobs for young adults is now 60 percent of the way there, says the Portland nonprofit leading the drive.
The annual SummerWorks program had 600 internships to offer, said Andrew McGough, executive director of the Worksystems, Inc. The Nonprofit manages area WorkSource offices, provides workforce training and coordinates the youth program.
Mayor Charlie Hales cut city SummerWorks funding earlier this year, but later restored the contribution after public pushback.
Worksystems estimates that more than 36,000 young people in the metro area are unemployed and out of school. A seperate study showed that workers ages 16 to 24 face 17.8 percent joblessness statewide.
Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith, who sits on Worksystems' board, is helping lead the youth jobs campaign.
So far, both private businesses and public agencies have signed on to provide the 600 internships, nearly double the amount available last year, McGough said. Other interested employers can contact the agency through its website.
Via Carole Scholl
Multnomah County's Londer Learning Center, the City of Portland's Gang Task Force and community agencies are teaming up to offer GED tutoring opportunities to low-income adults. The tutoring effort seeks to help adults in our community finish a GED before the current test expires in December.
The GED campaign begins with a tutor training event from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 1st at the Londer Learning Center, 421 S.W. 5th Ave., Portland. Tutors who want to participate in this inspiring short-term volunteer opportunity should register by Wednesday, May 29 by calling 503-988-3466 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the training, tutors can choose a tutoring site, which includes the Rosewood Community Center in East Portland, Africa House in Northeast Portland, Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center, Inc. and Straightway Services in North Portland and the Londer Learning Center. Each agency will set a tutoring schedule, but volunteers should expect to tutor once or twice a week, for a minimum of four weeks in the target months of June through August.
For more information contact Carole Scholl at 503-988-6828 or visit the Londer Learning Center's website.
PreServe, and Commissioner Loretta Smith invited 35 of Portland's black community Visionaries for a special healthy soulfood lunch & discussion to help PreServe Coalition identify health access needs and barriers affecting African Americans 55 and older. Here's a summary of their advice:
Question 1: What are the biggest barriers to healthier living for African American Amerians 55 and older in Portland?
You advised us that there is a lack of knowledge about healthy living and access to programs and services that could support healthy living in Portland. Some elders may not wish to seek assistance, sometimes due to fear of giving up their independence or a lack of trust of programs and providers. Community members, and caregivers in particular, need education-not only about healthy lifestyles, but about how to access services that help. Service providers need to be respectful and culturally competent and use language with elders and their families that honors them as valued and competent individuals.
Families need to be encouraged to maintain the tradition of intergenerational care. Many need information on payment for care, including payments to family members as caregivers, and how to provide financial help and protection for seniors. Elders and caregivers need education on medication adherence, and on label literacy so they understand how to take their medicaions appropriately.
Diabetes is a major concern and families and elders need education on diabetes at all stages and to understand the implications that inattention to provider recommendations has on their long-term ability to thrive.
Access to healthy food at reasonable cost was a major concern and suggestions included engaging seniors and their families in gardening, connecting with local farms, and bringing food to convenient, familiar neighborhood locations for easier access.
Question 2: Community engagement and outreach strategies
In response to this question, you advised us to work towards getting information about health out to elders through churches, public service announcements, Twitter, and Radio 1480. We were encouraged to reach out to men who typically don't seek health care. We were advised to get a place on meeting agendas of local health-related groups to introduce our mission and possibly begin collaboration with existing programs.
Question 3: Who else should be involved in the conversation?
As above, you suggested we seek assistance from churches and other community organizations. We were advised to consider looking to other communities, such as the Wisdom of Elders program used in the Native American Community, and Achieve that works on healthy-food initiatives. In summany, the information our Visionaries provided will help us shape our future work as we strive to address community-voiced needs and create programs that engage, educate, and empower older African Americans and their families to live their healthiest lives.
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Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith knows first-hand the value a paying job can have for a teenager.
In 1980, Smith was a job seeking 16-year old living in Michigan. Application after application went nowehre.
Then her English teacher unexpectedly offered a job entering test socres into the offical grade book. Money for the internship. she learned, came from a federal jobs- training program.
"That meant so much to me at the time," she said this week. "It was just a huge opportunity that came along at the perfect time."
Now Smith is offering the same opportunity to others by championing the Summer Youth Connect program at Multnomah County. The program is on track to provide paying summer internships to 100 people ages 16 to 21, double the number who landed similar positions last year and four times as many who participated in the program's 2011 inaugural year.
Ther program is part of a larger public-private effort to find jobs for area youth, who are on the short end of the worst employment rate since the end of World War II.
Only one in four teens who want work this summer will be able to find a job, according to Worksystems, a nonprofit job-training organization focusing on Portland and Multnomah and Washington counties.
For poor teens and students of color, the outlook is even more dismal, with unemployment rates of close to 90 percent, said Heather Ficht, Worksystems' director of youth workforce services.
The program targets underprivileged youth who likely would not find jobs otherwise.
"What we are really doing is growing the next generation of young leaders," Smith said. "And there is no better way to do that than by offering kids the chance to work."
The county isn't alone in efforts to create summer internships for youth. Portland plans to offer 97 internships this year, with Oregon's Department of Human Services offering another 90. TriMet is sponsoring 30 internships. and Washington County and the Port of Portland are offering 14, and nine, respectively.
Here's how the program works:
Worksystems, through its SummerWorks program sends out notices to high school counselors and other community-based organizations to advertise the openings. It then provides job training prior ro placement and screens and matches eligible youth based on their skills and preferences.
Ongoing job coaching is also offered. Worksystems handles and funds all payroll processing, taxes and insurance.
Internships. paying minimum wage, typically last six to nine weeks during the summer for a total of 190 hours of work. An employer sponsorship of $2,000 covers all the wages and other direct costs, while simultaneosly leveraging an addiontal $1,000 per intern in services offered by Worksystems.
"I guarantee you that kids participating in this program are going to find themselves headed in the right direction," Smith said. "I've never seen a gang member doing a drive-by on their way to work."
One significant stumble did occur earlier this year when Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, in one of his first prominent decisions, said he was going to help solve the city's budget shortfall by trimming the $194,000 needed to sponsor 97 internships for at-risk youth.
Smith, alarmed at the move, invited Hales to a one-on-one breakfast.
"I just had to give him an opportunity to really see that this is going to change the lives of so many underserved families," Smith said. "He finally said, after further review and listening to community members, that this is something he just had to put back."
Dana Haynes, Hales' spokesman, confirmed the account.
Looking ahead, the future of the program remains uncertain, given looming money shortages. For now, however, a new batch of interns will soon be working in every county department, from information technology to business services to animal services.
By Dana Tims