Ending poverty will get us to the “Promised Land”

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Harry Alford

Beyond the Rhetoric

By Harry C. Alford

We at the National Black Chamber of Commerce have resolved to aggressively pursue the end of poverty as we know it. We have partnered with House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway to put job training as a requirement in the Food Stamp Program. Grown, able bodied recipients will be offered job training and then job placement to transition them off the Food Stamp cycle, which is handed down generation to generation with no end in sight.

That is not the American Way. Some civil rights groups don’t understand our mission. They can be described as poverty assistance leaders who promote welfare with no end in sight. They depend on it also as it provides them a paycheck at the cost of their “clients.” Some call this “poverty pimping” and I tend to agree.

At our annual conference last week, we had the pleasure of meeting two up and coming organizations dedicated to the economic freedom and empowerment of current poverty “victims.” The first is a dynamic lady, Raquel Williams-Jones, who has founded the Can I Live organization. They are up and running and doing work along the east coast, headquartered in the Washington, DC area. Here is what they promote:

“Can I Live (CIL) is dedicated to moving One Million Moms Off Welfare ™ (1MMOW), a 10 plus year strategy dedicated to reducing dependency on government subsidies and empowering assisted families to achieve self-sufficiency. All CIL programming and professional services are aligned towards accomplishing this desired end.

“Can I Live holds the license to proprietary human capital programming. Our niche program design, product and service delivery are created by professionals with over 50 years of industry experience as both the social services client and practitioner. Therefore, we understand like no other, the mindset of poverty and its damaging effects on family dynamics.

“We are experts at systems navigation and compelling advocates for policy and system changes. We work towards eradicating generational and inter-generational poverty through a set of approaches and proven practices executed meticulously.”

“The above is not a proposal. They are living! The HUD Section 3 Act is a base of their activities and housing authorities are starting to work with them. Interested? Contact Raquel Williams at www.canilive.org or rwjones@canilive.org.”

Another vibrant and creative entrepreneur we met is LaJobie Mosley, Volunteer Certified Instructor, for Pembroke Hopkins Park Construction Outreach Program. Most construction unions are biased as to who they let into their training programs. Thus, Mr. Mosley started his own construction training program and local union. He is certified by the Department of Labor and services the Illinois marketplace. This is how he explains it:

“About Us: Pembroke Hopkins Park Construction Outreach Program is a not-for-profit 501(c) 3 education foundation created in 2008 to develop an industry-driven standardized craft training program with portable credentials to help address the shortage of disadvantaged, underemployed and unemployed individuals in the construction trades. PHPCOP is a Vocational Training School with a curriculum recognized by the Department of Labor.

“The National Center for Construction Education and Research curricula has been approved by the State Board of Education and Higher Board of Education and used by many secondary school programs throughout the country. Our programs are designed to educate students in several trades. PHPCOP also provides an option at students’ choice to earn while you learn termed as “Field Education” to be paid as they do their on the job training with various contractors. Each construction trade is a four-year program. In the process of completing the program, individuals can be employed with some of the top paying companies in the state. Upon graduation the student will have the necessary valuable marketable skills to continue in the construction industry.

“For years, laborers, concrete finishers, machine operators, carpenters, and other construction trades people have learned their skills under the watchful eye of a patient, experienced trades person. Times have changed, but the value and goals of PHPCOP have not. This program is designed to recruit, screen and train individuals both on and off the job. PHPCOP networks with unions and contractors to increase the workforce for disadvantaged, unemployed, and underemployed individuals residing in the United States who have not traditionally been able to enroll in the construction industry.

“PHPCOP is designed to help disadvantaged, underemployed, and unemployed individuals who meet the minimum requirements for entry into the training program and to provide them with training that would allow them to develop and demonstrate the basic skills, attitudes, and behavior required for success on the job. The training program also provides students with blueprint reading, basic math, reading, along with the skills and knowledge necessary for the construction trades

“To qualify for on-the-job training, students must meet program standards for attendance and punctuality, participate fully in all instructional components and assessments, and receive positive recommendations from their instructors. Students who are enrolled in PHPCOP will be given the opportunity to master a trade as full-time, paid employees under the direct supervision of qualified experienced tradespeople. Students can participate in on-the-job training ranging from one year (1280 hours) to four years (5120 hours). Also, students will participate in classroom instruction for a minimum of 640 hours which would include, in the field, hands on experiences.

“A networking contractor/union may sponsor students enrolled in PHPCOP.”

You can contact Mr. Mosley at www.phpcop.net or lmosley@phpcop.net. Tell him I sent you. Both programs should be emulated across the nation which is why the NBCC will promote them whenever we can and hope for both groups to spread nationally in a rapid fashion.

Mr. Alford is the Co-Founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®.  Website: www.nationalbcc.org.  Email: halford@nationalbcc.org.

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