Just Economy Conference – May 11, 2021
Each year, the Department of Labor spends billions of dollars on workforce programs that, on the whole, fail racial minorities. Specifically, state-run one-stop employment centers and colleges largely ignore life experiences and cultural understanding. In response, Black, Latinx and women-led organizations and organized labor are creating new models of job training centers and finding unique funding sources for them.
- Carlos Graupera, CEO, Spanish American Civic Association
- Jerry Kellman, Senior Advisor, Organizing, NCRC
- Renaye Manley, Deputy Director, Strategic Initiatives, SEIU
- Rev. Dr. Terrence S. Keeling, President and CEO, Central Bapstist CDC
NCRC video transcripts are produced by a third-party transcription service and may contain errors. They are lightly edited for style and clarity.
Good morning, I’m Gerald Kellman and I am the Senior Advisor for organizing at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. And we’re very pleased to have you today. Four years ago, Janet Yellen, at that time, had the Federal Reserve Bank. But currently, the secretary treasurer, came to speak at NCRC. And she spent the whole time talking about workforce for an agency that principally has dealt with housing, small business. And there’s a green light to begin to deal with workforce and jobs as part of the Community Reinvestment Act. And part of what we’ve done here in NCRC, is try to build that out using a particular funding source, the most underutilized underutilized funding source for workforce in the country, SNAP Employment and Training program run by the Department of Agriculture. In Pennsylvania, we’ve met with Governor Tom Wolf got his commitment to build out what’s now is less than $5 million coming to Pennsylvania, as much as $100 million dollars in coming years. we piloted with a program in Philadelphia, done with the laborers union, a union, which historically it’s been under African American leadership now for seven years. And what we have developed with laborers is a diversity pre apprenticeship where the laborers are training African American Latinos in Philadelphia, and getting them ready for apprenticeships in all white unions. Particularly important we look at the condition of infrastructure, and the company infrastructure bills. But today’s session today is to say that there’s a way to do this, that responds much more appropriately, to minority communities, to women, to special groups have been incarcerated people in recovery single moms, and during the re-entering the workforce. And that’s to look at grassroots organizations developing their own workforce programs. Most of there’s a ton of money in a workforce that almost all goes to state-run, one-stop workforce centers, and to colleges. And they don’t do very well. And this session, we’re going to try to raise the issue and perhaps ask you to join this other movement inside and CRC, which is to develop workforce programs under the leadership of the communities of the people they serve. And to do that on a relational way, which takes into consideration language, culture and experience those being served. So we have three great speakers to talk about today. The first is college prepare. Carlos is the director of the Spanish American Civic Association in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. For those who don’t know, Lancaster Homer, the Amish is a majority Latino city, as is most of their cities in Central Pennsylvania right now. And out of the model of sakha, which is a multi-service company organization. Carlos and colleagues developed tech Central, funded with it almost exclusively with private money, not government money and develop most state Latino workforce program in Pennsylvania, and one of the best in the country, and now are expanding, ready, and too soon for shizune to shoot for York. So Carlos says an exciting story to tell them, let them tell it.
Good morning, everyone. It is a pleasure to talk to you about this very exciting journey that we’ve been on, which is the advancement of community-based bilingual technology centers. In our communities. The issue that we’re trying to always address and I’m sure that it’s addressed in communities all across the country, is the issue of language, which keeps so many of our people from sustainable income, adult basic education, which tends to be lower lack of skills. Unemployment, is structurally two digits and stubbornly stays in there. underemployment is a huge issue in our community. And there is structurally a disconnection between community and vocational education, education institutions, which tell us over and over again, that they would like to be helpful. They simply don’t know how to access the community. The good thing is that employers want to connect with a population that we’re seeking to serve. And local public officials do want the issue addressed, mayor’s No longer are interested in bricks and mortar and sidewalks and, and picking up trash and, and snow removal. They’re concerned about poverty in their communities. community leaders have stopped emphasizing basic social services as important as they are, they are not the way out of poverty for our community. It is learning, raising educational level skills, training, and placement into jobs that are sustainable, and lift people out of poverty. And more of our community advocates are saying this is the path forward. So the community-based Workforce Development Centers need to be bilingual. To serve our communities, they need to be located in immediate neighborhoods of greater need. They have to be high in technology. And they have to be appealing and in high standards, because we want to affect the attitude and the motivation of people that ring our doorbell. These Workforce Development Centers cannot occur unless there are partnerships established. First with the communities and community advocates that feel the need and want to address the need. We need to have a partnership with our community colleges and our vocational institutions. We need employers also to close ranks behind us. And of course, public officials have a very important part in getting us started and keeping us sustained. I’m very pleased that our network is developing first in Lancaster, where we were able seven years ago to develop tech Central, which is a bilingual Workforce Development Center. We have opened up a second center. Subsequent to that, because we needed to expand and we needed to address the issue of trade, occupational training. Since that time, our friends and community advocates in Redding, and also in York, have engaged us in our conversation about how the tech central model can be replicated. And I’m very pleased to say that a reading will open up its Tech Center in July of this year. And York, Pennsylvania, is also ready to open its center later part of this year, as well. And we’re we’re in a conversation with our friends in Lebanon as well. So a network of community-based centers is beginning to emerge. And this effort and the role of lending institutions has been critical. We are communities that do not have the capital to address a lot of the issues. There are before us. And we need strong partners in the private sector. And our lenders are key to help us get started with neighborhood assistance with foundation grants. And simply by the, by the force of their good offices, they open up a lot of doors for us, I can tell you that the return on investment has been very, very impressive for us. In the first five years, we were able to place 903 individuals in sustainable income that has created a $27 million increase in wages in our community. any individual that works with us, for at least four months, experiences a 40% increase in their wages. And we have an increase of $8.5 million in the local economy every year, as a result of the placement that we have made with 100 additional jobs in the secondary economy as a result of these placements. We don’t use those numbers ourselves, we ask our local economic development company to track this for us and report back to us what the impact and the return on investment has been for our efforts. We think that what is happening here is important, because at long last communities are seeking solutions from the bottom up, rather than the top down. It is a very pleasant thing to see those community colleges and private education vocational institutions that couldn’t access our community. Now they have a platform through these community workforce development centers, to meet our community and to engage them. Now. are they offering the same amount of training that they do in their campuses? No, it is short-term training. It is customized, it has a lot of wraparound services, where we’re finally getting to the needs of the community. Because we see them rather than they being dictated from on high to us. I hope to talk to you more about our wonderful journey in the future. But this is where we are as of today. Thank you.
Thanks. So our next speaker is Reverend Terrence Keeling. Pastor Keeling decided to preach the gospel in a unique way East Wilmington is transforming East Wilmington, Delaware. The central Baptist Community Development Corporation, which we’ve worked closely with for a number of years now is a model for the state of Delaware. And it’s just changed the conversation about what a when I low income African American Beauty can achieve when I first met Terrence, that year, East women had the highest rate of murders in the United States. Now he has other things, and Terrence will tell you about them. Thank you.
Thanks, Jerry. Well, let me begin by giving you a little bit of background on central Baptist Community Development Corporation. And how long we’ve been around and what it is that we try to do. We were started pressing me 11 years ago, really an answer to problems in our community. The community we serve is in Wilmington, Delaware, the east side of Wilmington, which at one time was a very stable, secure middle-class African American community. Center deteriorated 990 2% African American 40% of them below the poverty level. 72% of the households have incomes less than 35,000. a tremendous amount of abandoned buildings 70 sorry, 70% of the homeownership is rental only 30% was home only ship, people who own their homes. We set out really to revitalize the community. And we took a little bit different approach. Most people approach things based on a needs basis. We took an asset-based approach, which means that we went about looking at what do we have in community turns institutions in terms of people power, and how could we develop our community from within central Baptist Community Development Corporation is not only faith-based but is a community-based organization. Majority of our board is made up of people who live work worship in the community. When we set out, we wanted to address three different things we wanted to address, housing stabilization, workforce development and economic empowerment. And we say that they are mutually reinforcing pillows, pillows that we have built our program on. And that each one kind of works with and in tandem with the other we started out by saying that we were going to address the housing situation in the community by rebuilding the homes that were abandoned, bringing them back online, and getting people to the point where they be in a position to own those homes so that we could address not only the highly transient rental situation, but get people who were emotionally and financially invested in the community. We didn’t listen developers and we itself, ourselves became developers to to address that problem. Well, the reason we focused on workforce is because we wanted people from the community, to work on those houses as they will be being done, and to be in a position to own those homes when they were brought back online. And that’s really where our workforce development programs start started. We started out like Jerry talked about by partnering with a labor union. We started out with doing two things, soft skills training, we put in a 60, our workforce readiness training, taught people you know that there is more to going into the job and getting paid. You know, you got to show up on Monday when you get paid on Friday. Financial Literacy, early literacy, we wanted them to understand money management, help them develop a career pathway to to employment. And then the other part was to work on the hard skills. Again, we started out with reunion. And we used to actually take people from our community that we recruited, bust them out to the Training Center, where they would get hard skills, and they would learn ncce, our basic construction skills we moved on and not only did that, but we became a center where we did the ncce our training ourselves within our community didn’t have to bust them out anymore. We also did started to pick up other training because it wasn’t just construction that people in our community needed. We want it to be more than that to address the areas that were becoming in demand. So we brought in a copper wire cable and networking to deal with teaching them how to do like things like you know, the fire copper, cable wiring, welding, Microsoft Office and we kept continuing to to improve and add services to our training in what we offered. At the same time, we recognized that we needed to do more in terms of support. So we started to bring in wraparound services. And again, I want to emphasize that all of these things happen within the community. We trained a number of people put a number of people to work and we assisted that they would be in living wage jobs. These people were the objective was to help raise their incomes and their level of earnings and you know the basic way that they were living and we did have some effects Unfortunately, what happened is COVID hit like, for everybody it affected us. But it was, while it was a bad thing was also a good thing. And it is that it forced us to re examine who we are and how we were going to, to meet the needs of our community. And in doing that, we basically redesigned ourselves. We went from being the ISA rising Training Center to becoming the ISA Career Development Center. We went to a total online training. We now offer training in over 300 different courses. We now train in healthcare, things like nursing, Rn, medical assistants, dental hygienists, we do again, the medical and skill training, welding, constructing building. We also have things in the area of computer science, even law and transportation, we do legal assistants, paralegals, we basically have reinvented ourselves so that we are very close to being a community college, offering courses that you know, not just people in our community, but people throughout the state of Delaware able now to access. So we have continuously been moving working to improve we partner with not only the Department of Labor, but Delaware department of health and social services. And we also receive funding from grants and, and foundations. We are proud of what we have done and proud of what we have become all of those courses that we now offer all of them. You know the when you graduate you graduate with a certification, transferable skills, you can use them anywhere you go. If you relocate to any place in the country, you have that certification in that particular field. So we have no constantly been improving, constantly been working. And again, there is a very strong community base. behind all of this, we have people from the community to volunteer. And we make sure that we focus first and foremost on people from the community. So that’s our story. We are proud of what we’ve done and always welcome the opportunity to tell that story.
Thank you Terrence. Renaye Manley is the deputy director of strategic initiatives for the Service Employees International Union. And they and I go back a long way. In those years I was training to organizers one was in Chicago. His name was Barack Obama, another was renamed family in Northwest Indiana. Rene still organizing I think Brock is just writing books right now. So Renee is going to talk about three different experiences. One is as the lead organizer for interfaith worker justice, she saw the emergence of immigrant worker centers throughout the country. In recent years, she’s been a moving force for hiring black worker centers, particularly in Chicago, in Englewood. And with SEIU, part of the workforce of SEIU or people who, who go into homes, do homecare, traditionally, with not being paid what they are now with the conditions and rights they need. And so Renaye will bring to us kind of perspective on the rights of workers and, and how we how we begin to address those in this situation. Thanks
Oh, Jerry Kellman. Thank you for that. So, as Jerry said, my name is Renae Manley, and I just want to thank NCRC Jerry, my good friend Jane Ashman, who’s on the board of NCRC, for this invitation today. And I just really want to recognize Carlos and Reverend Keeling for the amazing work that their two organizations are doing I love hearing those stories about the community-based work that they’re doing. I used to want to go back to my early days as a community organizer, way back when I did my first Community Reinvestment Act training. Way back if many of you who aren’t might be a little older. Remember, shale trap and Gale CATIA, back in NCIC. When gene is human and I did our first Community Investment Act agreement in Northwest Indiana back before they had casinos. You know, they were, we were able to leverage and get that first agreement done. And when Jerry had me doing one on ones in Northwest Indiana, with my church, which was a part of the organization where we were organizing, and my pastor was one of the primary leaders of that organization. And, you know, I bring all of that into this round, because, basically, you know, all of the organizing that we do all the organizing the NCRC, does all the organizing, the services that Carlos and Reverend Keeling talked about, is really about how do we build power? You know, how are we able to build power for workers? How are we able to build power for communities, how are we able to get things done for folks in our communities, because quite frankly, if, if things are the way they always have been, then they don’t need us, we don’t need to be around. And we might as well be, you know, one of those groups that Jeremy talked about that are kind of part of the status quo. Because if you know, it, we can help them win anything, we don’t need to be around, people don’t need our help to lose, people situations are bad enough, without having another group around, who’s basically you know, just going to talk the same talk, and not gonna move anything and not gonna get anything done. Quite frankly, they don’t need to come to another meeting, they don’t need to be in another room call on another conference call, they don’t need to sign another petition for another group who’s not going to be effective. You know, there’s too much going on, we got a pandemic, people, you know, are trying to hold on to their jobs, they’re worried about their kids, they’re managing, you know, virtual schooling and, you know, trying to figure out, you know, what they’re doing as an essential worker facing, you know, dangerous situations, and they’re trying to make a living, they need somebody who’s going to deliver, or at least going to try to deliver. And that’s how, and so we got to be about how we use these situations, how we use these circumstances, how we’re using our community power to deliver for the folks in our communities. And that’s what I hear when I hear Carlos when I hear Reverend killing, and that’s what I learned as a community organizer. So it’s really not about the money, it really starts from the power. And that’s what you know, I want to bring into this conversation today. Because, um, that’s when we started black worker centers. That’s really what it was about, we felt that black workers didn’t really have power and still don’t have power. Right? And this is about how are we building power for black workers, who are facing kind of a racialized political economy, where they are exploited because of their race, and because of their class? And so how are we going to develop unique ways to reflect how black workers are being impacted? And how are we going to change things for black workers? How are we going to look up the importance of black workers, and the only way that we saw to be able to do that, or the most effective way that we sought to be able to do that is by organizing a collective voice for black workers in the workplace. And by working together to change public policy by basically black worker centers, and bringing together progressive elements of the black community, like church leaders, like progressive elected officials, like, you know, like workers themselves, and formulating these policy solutions. Um, you know, and black union members, I’m sorry, so to formulate these policy solutions, and we have to route black worker centers, and the network of black communities and black essential networks because there’s a, you know, robust and progressive and effective network that gets things done, gets things done, and black communities and all we have to do with the brain goes folks together. And I can tell you that your board member Jean ism, and she’s one of the most effective community organizers I know, you may not call herself that but she’s in the back rooms, and in the front rows making deals and she can get things done. And, and, and respecting also, you know, the gender and other impacts of diversity around issues in the black community, which is something that we often don’t think about, but we are intentional about bringing it into the conversation. So, so as we’re doing this and thinking about this, at the time when we’re formulating the black worker centers, you know, I’m Jerry mentioned, I’m working at interfaith worker justice, who has a network of immigrant worker centers flow might be asking. So Renee, why do we have to do black worker centers, there was already a group of immigrant worker centers, why couldn’t you know, the black workers can, you know, be integrated into the immigrant worker center experience? Well, I’m going to tell you why. The, I think the popular narrative was that, um, immigrant worker centers. And the philtrum, running, always offered up the day were available to black workers. And I believe that that was true. But when we talk to black workers on the brown, they did not feel that the immigrant worker centers were as were welcoming to them. And then there was an issue that a lot of the black workers that we were talking to, a lot of them had status issues, a lot of ex-offenders, um, quite frankly, our returning citizens. And the immigrant worker Center at the time, we’re talking maybe about 10 years ago, we’re not as equipped to handle that issue issues on criminal justice issues, returning citizen issues, or black ex-offenders, which were really a little different than the immigrant. And citizenship issues of immigrant workers, they just did not have that experience, they did not have the expertise around those issues. And then a lot of the immigrant worker centers were really focused on wage theft, and wage stuff for immigrant workers shows up a little differently than it shows up for ex-offenders who are African American. For immigrant workers at the time, a lot of the wage stuff was showing up in for instance, like, employers would just disappear, or employers just wouldn’t pay workers, for black workers at the time. That was not how wage that was a current wage. That was more around misclassification, for example, saying that they were independent contractors instead of employees, or paying them under the table, and cash instead of, you know, giving them a paycheck, I’m making them work like 60 hours a week at a regular pay rate. And so they’ve given him overtime, and things like that, um, some of that happening to immigrant workers as well, but just showing up a little different for black workers. So um, so those were some of the reasons and certainly was not rooted in kind of a black worker cultural experience, which was really important as well. And so, um, so those were some of the reasons why we felt that a space that really weren’t rooted and grounded and black worker experienced black communities needed a separate space. And we think that, you know, this is about over 10 years, we think it was clearly the right decision, and have been working and collaborating with our brothers and sisters in the immigrant worker center. And in other ethnic worker centers over these past years. So it’s been an exciting development has we have learned to work together and share our experiences in the worker center movement. So one of the things I will say about how we build power, is that, you know, when somebody wants to exploit you, they don’t care who you are, because it’s about again, it’s about power. And one of the things that we saw was these employers with, you know, try to play the immigrant workers are the Latino workers against the black workers who have status issues, right. So they would like they were threatened to call immigration on Latino workers who maybe had immigration issues, they were threatened to call parole or probation, on, you know, black workers who may have had, you know, some status issues or, or whom, as we say, in the hood, were on paper. So they knew what they were doing. Employers knew what they were doing, and they were trying to play communities off of each other. They would, you know, we would see employers who would have a preference for hiring, for instance, immigrant workforces, as opposed to African American workers. And so those kinds of things were happening to become employers. Were at Attempting to exploit workers and playing them off of each other. And so that was a key component of why it workers needed to know what was going on. And we did not allow them to play off of each other workers needed to know their rights. So one of the essential components of the worker centers, both the immigrant worker centers and the African American worker centers, making sure workers knew their rights. And when we talk about knowing your rights is knowing everything from what is the minimum wage, because we have workers who didn’t know that the knowing, you know, health and safety rules and violations, people didn’t know that, um, to knowing what is sexual harassment, because we had young women working and no community based retail establishments who did not know what sexual harassment is, or worse. So those kinds of know, your rights trainings, which are still going on today, with African American workers centers are really important. So when you hear all of this worker centers as a worker, community-based worker advocacy organization for immigrant workers, for African Americans, you say, well, this sounds a lot like the union. Right? Yeah, they do. They don’t have maybe collective bargaining agreements, but they’re advocating for justice in communities, for workers who don’t have a collective bargaining agreement. And I think, you know, um, as I, you know, work for SEIU, and I see our work around five or 15, our basketball campaign, I’m so many elements of the work that I’ve done, um, for the worker centers, I see that they, you know, evident in some of these other campaigns, but I just want to, you know, transition us a little bit to how we see, you know, the care industry, and opportunities there. Because when you look at the care, industry, childcare, senior care, you know, we see 1000s of boomers, baby boomers, turning 65 every year. Now, the demographics of this country are becoming older, and we want to boomers want to maintain their independence, they want to stay home. And it’s better for the community-based care is where we should be going, it saves money, and it helps people maintain their independence. But what hasn’t happened is that these the care industry jobs have not provided either the type of training and the type of pay to encourage people to seek the type of profession that is a profession. And I will go back to last April, and last March, in the throes of the pandemic. If y’all remember when the term essential workers was first coined, y’all remember that When healthcare workers and delivery drivers, and world’s restored clerks were all seen as heroes, and they were nursing home workers, and they were given all of this extra pay of sick leave, Hazard pay all of that disappear, probably in about four or five months. Right. But these people were putting their lives on the line going out every day, to provide essential services. Well, that’s basically what’s going on in the care industry, right, because home care workers were going out and taking care of folks every day. Um, either way, nursing home workers were going out literally showing up for work, even when those nursing homes were on lockdown. When you can go see grandma, both nursing home workers had to go in there and that those were the hottest spots during the pandemic. And so we have to invest and care that we have to invest in care personnel, we have to invest in making sure that those jobs are professionalized. We have to make sure that we are recruiting people into those jobs, and we have to make sure that those people get paid. Because we, you know, want to avoid having, you know, in 10 years from now, five years from now, people institutionalized in skilled nursing facility We want to be able to keep folks at home in their communities as independent as possible. And the way we do that is by increasing the number of homecare providers who are able to go in and make sure that you have whoever has everything that they need to be able to stay independent in their homes. Um, how does that training occur? Where does that money come from? You know, um, you know, that’s part of the kind of soft infrastructure that we talked about in the Biden infrastructure plan. But I think there may be other opportunities, too, to look at how we build training for those type of jobs, for security personnel, you know, you think about how that’s gonna change in a post-pandemic environment, you know, used to go into the office building, in a downtime in an urban area, and you have to show your ID to get signed into the building, maybe now, those security guards may have to do a security may have to do a temperature check. Or they may have to limit how many people go into the elevator together, you know, there may be some additional skills training that has to be done with those folks. You think about a building janitor, or a janitor at an airport, you know, joins a pandemic, an imposed pandemic, you know, they have to have extra training because they have to monetize, you know, built facilities in a different type of way. So that type of training, and how we skill up those folks in a way that keeps them safe and keep the public safe is really important. So you know, there are opportunities to raise up the level of those jobs that would typically are low wage jobs, which typically are very, maybe very gender, and how we look at them with a lot of women, primarily people of color. But again, if we are building power, through the union, through pushing through advocacy, through policy, as we build power, we can change the situation for these workers, through the worker centers where we’re changing policy, and we’re increasing and making a difference for black workers. And that’s really what it’s about at the end. How do we change the situation for workers so that workers are not exploited, so they’re not taken advantage of? And so when we say they’re essential, they’re being treated like they’re essential? Well, thank you.
Okay, I’m gonna make a couple of points, then we’ll open up for questions. We’re in effect inviting you to work with us to create a workforce program in your community, as part of a coalition or as part of your organization. And those workforce programs can look very different. One from another. As you heard from Terrence and Renaye, and from Carlos, there’s there’s different models. I mentioned pre-apprenticeship and with unions, Renaye is talking about home workers can establish work training program for them. On the southwest side of Philadelphia, with Southwest CDC, looking at public housing residents and the Philadelphia Housing Authority. We’re in Tampa, Florida, the city and the major corporations are talking in again, in Philadelphia, the district attorney who’s trying to reform the criminal justice system from the inside, is looking at creating an RJ restorative justice center of Peace Center modeled after the model of Chicago, linking up at-risk young adults and folks who’ve been incarcerated to jobs, so you can design it, according to your community and the relationships there. The second thing I want to mention is just to talk about how we evolved into this. About eight years ago, we began our growth program, which is now we having about $100 billion worth of houses a year nationally, and at Gorman who’s our Director of Development as an experience both firsthand, and he thought we would train people construction. While we have the houses that didn’t work. We hired by passenger cars, not here this morning. But Bob had been at one point the advisor for the New York State Department, adult education in New York State uses that 135 million of SNAP Employment and Training funds and each year and a half of a 15 years. Compare that to Ohio which is less than 5 million or two Pennsylvania which was less than 5 million. So we began to figure out Why that sources being used and get and begin to get it used in a grassroots way. And it’s matches dollar for dollar other dollars you have. So working with USDA working with state Human Services Department, there’s an opportunity here for really to expand the kinds of organizations offering workforce training to populations that are really being ignored by a by a one-stop model run by the state or by the college. So let’s see if you have any questions and thank you for being here this morning. Okay, so I’ll ask the questions. Sorry, I’m not seeing see on the board. Is that right? Okay. So I guess anyone can take this one. What what is it that, you know, we were finding that minority populations women? Are the programs allocated funds for instruction offered nationally? If so, can you direct me into specific specifically for Ohio?
I’ll take that one. That’s from us, Moore’s. So no, they there’s it’s national funding, but it will come through through job and Family Services and Ohio. thing is they’re not using the program now. So wherever you are, if you want to work with us, we will work with the UN JFS to begin to get a program approved. We’ve just been Huntington bank as part of their renewed CBA agreement has agreed to fund workforce efforts of NCRC in Ohio. And we’ll use those funds to work with you to offer technical assistance and to convince the state we’ll be working in different places. I’m particularly working right now in Columbus and in higher Appalachia. But wherever you are, start with us. And we’ll try to navigate you through the process with JFS at the state level, and then with USDA at the national level. And question from an How do you see current funding playing into the mix? So AARP funding, so the American leaf leaf act, I assume, and it’s talking about, um, so I think we don’t get the money. Unless we fight for it. I go back to Rene’s point of view, they will give it to the same old they will keep taking the money Terrence can tell stories, right? They won’t perform. They won’t reach the populations, but they’ll keep getting the money. I’m sorry to be so negative about this. I’m pleased for the act. So I think if we organize and we organize in Connecticut, we can change that. And, yeah, so American Recovery and clarified. We can change that we have to we have to fight for the dollars. I think that I mean, Carlos can tell that that even Tom Wolfe, who’s to where we work with, when he tried to put more money and didn’t give it to Latino community. He gave it to the same old, same old folks. Now, the other thing I want to mention not so much in this act, but I think we have to, we have to factor in infrastructure. There’s there is already a huge infrastructure need. There’d be a lot of infrastructure money coming along. And we know that the Joe Biden find infrastructure much more broadly than the republicans would. So those dollars are there. The question is, will they reach the African American Latino communities? Because they won’t, I’m telling you unless we organize both as unions, as grassroots organizations and advocacy groups. So I think the opportunities are there, but we have to start strategizing and organizing right now. I’m gonna go I’m gonna ask question, Chloe, if it was another one, you’re going to send. Okay. So why is it that the, the folks you work with, why do you think they’re reluctant to go to the large one stop state centers? What is it about those senators and what is it about these alternative models that might be might be more effective? And I think each of you have an opinion about that. So let me start with Carlos and ask each of you to respond briefly. To that, what is it about the tech central Carlos, versus the One Stop that makes people want to be there?
Well, I think that the career links are serving and are being located in areas where they serve county wide populations, which means that oftentimes, they’re not in the city, and they’re not in the neighborhoods of need. So people have a problem getting there. The other thing is comfort. You want to walk into a building where people look like you. They speak your primary language, and has have a sensitivity as to what your particular needs are. I think those are the basic drawbacks. These community base, a base centers are located in the neighborhood, they are staffed with people that look like the the people that are ringing the doorbell trying to get in. And that makes all the difference, I believe,
Terrence and then Renaye to the same question.
Yeah, I think Carlos is is right, I think it’s the location, you know, with his thing about what we do is we’re in the community. We are community located community connected, able to hear what’s going on and respond. And people feel, you know, there’s a sense of trust. And I think that that is vitally important in not just what we do, but anytime you’re, you’re trying to address the issues that we’re all talking about.
Yeah, I agree. And I also think that the cultural competency issues and something not to be underestimated, you know, people who kind of understand and can really relate to some of the barriers and filter debates are facing in terms of their, their participation in these programs is really important. And, you know, having that, that community, relationship and basis of trust, as Reverend Keeling said, is is not to be underestimated. In terms of, you know, gaming, that participation, and folks who really want who are invested in your success, you know, like truly invested in your success. That is really important.
Thank you. So let’s talk about fundraising. I don’t know a better advocate for social justice than John Taylor, who shouldn’t you retire from NCRC after founding us, but that wasn’t just a strong advocate, he raised money. And if we don’t raise money, we can’t do this stuff. So let’s talk about you experienced raising monies for your job training programs, what are the worker centers, and then we’ll make some comments there. And whoever wants to go first on that one.
I can certainly talk about difficulties raising money, the first couple of years, it was a matter of being recognized, you know, there’s that old, good old boys network that a people who always get funded, always get funded. And we were new and trying to break in, had to make some inroads. That was a difficult thing to do, and is always the bureaucracy of dealing with some of the agencies that that we had to deal with, who had their favorites that we had to break in and, you know, get become, you know, when they recognize us or realize that, you know, we were being effective. One of the things that did help was when Bob came along and see RC, and we started to show them the funds, they will leave it on the table due to SNAP program. And that’s really what gave us the inroads and gave us a chance to prove what we could do.
Renaye, Carlos on fundraising. Jump in please.
I will say that, for the black market center, I think that, um, you know, we face the dilemma of serving black communities and being led by black people, which is, you know, this creates a whole dynamic in, in the fundraising world. And I think that as we’re, you know, really focused on how we build power. folks wanted us to maybe divert more to providing services and we were very committed that we wanted to feel our organizing model As a parallel to whether or not we provided services that that was our primary focus. And, you know, in the early days, we got a lot of pushback. I think, you know, in the last two years, certainly, it’s been a lot easier for black-led organizations, since there’s been a reckoning around racial justice. But, um, quite frankly, it shouldn’t have taken that for our fundraisings to evolve. And so, you know, hopefully, you know, there will be, you know, funders who will, you know, we calibrate on some of their past practices, or around funding or organizations who have led by people of color.
And Carlos, my first post that began talking, I think he was even resistant to taking government money, he’d built this up, tech centers out on private dollars. So we’ll talk about that for a minute, Carlos.
Well, I was speaking with a legislator this morning and telling, telling him that, you know, for the last seven years, we’ve been nickel and diming things in which is okay, when you get started, but that’s no longer acceptable. Too much work has been done in our community, to address the issue of workforce development. And we have business at the table, we have local officials set the table is time for the state to take a significant role here. I’ll let you know how that goes. How that conversation goes later. But in the meantime, so as not to not to be too confident, and what government can do and the bureaucracy can do, we have set up a foundation. And we are slowly building it up with help from our corporate partners and, and fill up philanthropic friends. And we want to get to a $10 million fund that will pay for roughly a third of the operation of our facility. And we’ve got a long way to go. Needless to say, but we have gotten started. And we’ll continue to push that. That foundation forward.
So sometimes you succeed to place people in jobs, and they don’t, don’t get retained. And often that’s put it on the employee. But in fact, they don’t get retained because of what’s happening in the workplace, the employees. And so if we’ve kind of, I’m gonna give everybody a last word, but I want to, I want to say that we’re doing two things here, we’re actually trying to deliver jobs for people helping them make take another step in their life, it’s technical work, it has to be accurate, they need all that stuff. But that’s a foundation for organizing. That’s the foundation to challenge the direction work is going in the in the United States and to building a base to do that with banks on the people. So each have a minute for last word, and I’m let’s start with Renaye and go the other direction. And we just a one minute no more.
Yes. So, um, we, again, we have to build power, and we have to challenge power. Um, you know, one way we’re challenging power, is holding financial institutions accountable for the impact. So their core business practices at SEIU, you know, we file shareholder resolutions calling for racial equity audits, where they have to engage community stakeholders on the impact of their core business practices. I know, we’ve talked to Jesse and other folks at ncrc about this. But we also want to make sure that they’re engaging the right community stakeholders so that folks can take advantage of these opportunities and really talk to, you know, these financial institutions about what the community needs are. And I think that’s a really unique opportunity in these days and times to engage.
So I’ll be brief. Upskill, the people that we started out serving with people who did not have jobs, the people we’re serving now, people who have jobs who realize that they need more skills, and certifications in order to not only advanced but the way things are changing. So workforce itself is changing, and there is more of a need for what we do now than ever.
Yeah, we have to be as community-based centers to be a second chance system, third chance system, the light is always on. If you if your placement holds and it’s good, great. We won’t see you again. But if something happens, you come back and I think that’s the value that We bring to the table. The other side of that is that we can serve, to educate the employer community as to changes that they need to make to retain their workers. We get a lot of complaints from the restaurant, business sector that they can’t find people, but we tell them, look what you’re paying. You’re going to continue to have this problem unless you get people in sustainable incomes.
Thank you for joining us today and we’ll be working in these communities along with you. God bless Take care. Thank you.