Last week I spent two long days with a wonderful group of people walking from one side of the Capitol building in Washington, D. C. to the other. Converging on the Capitol from seven states, our delegation represented a creative new initiative--the National Youth Apprenticeship Collaboration.
Our partnership seeks earmarked funding to deliver high-quality, hard-skills trades development to low-income persons ranging in age from 18 to 35. A number of options are built into the strategy, including transportable trades certification and a BS degree in construction science from Hampton University and other partner colleges and universities.
Providing training in building trades such as plumbing, carpentry, electrician services, H/AC engineering, foundation construction and computer aided drafting, to name a few, will place students in position to earn not only a livable wage, but an appreciable wage.
In addition to federal funding, the collaboration has signed on with the AFL-CIO. The trades unions involved will open apprenticeship positions to students, each of whom will be paired with a skilled worker. During pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship stages of the training, students will be paid a stipend for their work that will allow them to remain in school until they achieve their educational goals.
Private business groups are also on board. Wachovia Bank and Coca-Cola have committed financial backing as the program rolls out and grows. No doubt, other corporations will join in.
U. S. Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) has led the charge in the U. S. House of Representatives. Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH) is a big backer in the U. S. Senate.
When our Congresswoman, Eddie Bernice Johnson, learned of the effort, she quickly advanced Central Dallas Ministries as a partner for the collaboration from Texas. Groups from Georgia, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Alabama and California are also signed on to work in the national effort.
As we moved from office to office in the Congress, we enjoyed great conversations with both Republicans and Democrats.
NYAC provides a great example of how community-based, faith-based groups can successfully partner with private sector industry and business groups and government to develop scalable models for attacking poverty at its roots.
All of the partners in this coalition are needed to make it work. Remove any of the representative constituencies and the initiative just doesn't fly.
The community-based groups, motivated by heart and faith, deliver and support the students.
The trades industry provides the training for work, as well as jobs.
Business and government offer up the funding that promises great return on investment.
The outcome will be trained tradesmen and women.
And, you know what? You can't outsource plumbing!