WBEZ | Job Training http://www.wbez.org/tags/job-training Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Some States Are Cutting Poor Dads A Deal On Unpaid Child Support http://www.wbez.org/news/some-states-are-cutting-poor-dads-deal-unpaid-child-support-113877 <p><div id="res456639793"><div data-resid="456639793" id="slideshowGallery456639793"><div><p>When the state of Maryland wanted to reach dads who were behind on their child support payments, it started in the boarded-up blocks of West Baltimore, in neighborhoods marked by drugs, violence and unemployment.</p><p>In just four zip code areas, the state identified 4,642 people who owed more than $30 million in back child support. Most of that was &quot;state-owed,&quot; meaning that rather than going to the child through the custodial parent, it&#39;s supposed to reimburse taxpayers for welfare paid to the child&#39;s mother.</p><p>This is a source of great resentment for many men, who say they want their money to go to their children. But most who owe it can&#39;t pay anyway, as they earn less than $10,000 a year.</p><p>&quot;So even if we use taxpayer dollars to chase &#39;em down, and we catch &#39;em, right, and we go into their pockets, there&#39;s nothing in there,&quot; says Joe Jones of Baltimore&#39;s Center for Urban Families.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cfuf.JPG" style="height: 390px; width: 540px;" title="The Center for Urban Families in Baltimore is a nonprofit that provides job training, parenting programs and other help for low-income families. (Jun Tsuboike/NPR)" /></div></div><div>Are they deadbeat?</div></div></div><p>Joseph DiPrimio, head of Maryland&#39;s child support enforcement office, doesn&#39;t like that expression.</p><p>&quot;I think that&#39;s vulgar. I don&#39;t use it,&quot; he says.</p><p>DiPrimio prefers &quot;dead broke.&quot;</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re talking about individuals that are economically challenged, they&#39;re underemployed, but they want to do the right thing,&quot; he says.</p><p>Unpaid child support in the U.S. has climbed to $113 billion, and enforcement agencies have given up on collecting much of it. They say too many men simply don&#39;t have the money.</p><p>What&#39;s more, research shows that high child-support debt can leave parents feeling so hopeless that they give up trying to pay it.</p><p><strong>Breaking Through The Distrust</strong></p><p>Like a growing number of state government officials, Maryland&#39;s DiPrimio wanted to make parents an offer. But he needed their trust, and that was a problem.</p><p><img accept="" alt="" cannot="" class="image-original_image" grant="" i="" me="" serenity="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Participants%20led%20by%20facilitator%20Eddie%20Pitchford%20form%20the%20Chain%20of%20Unity%20at%20the%20conclusion%20of%20the%20Responsible%20Fatherhood%20meeting..JPG" style="height: 206px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" the="" they="" things="" title="Participants led by facilitator Eddie Pitchford form the Chain of Unity at the conclusion of the Responsible Fatherhood meeting. " to="" /></p><p>Research shows high child support debt can leave parents feeling so hopeless that they give up trying to pay it.</p><p>And sting operations to round up parents who owed child support have happened all over the country, including Baltimore. In a typical ruse, agencies have sent fake letters telling parents they won tickets to a football bowl game, for instance &mdash; but when they showed up to collect, they were arrested instead.</p><p>To break through years of distrust, Maryland sent letters to parents with the logo of the Center for Urban Families, a nonprofit in West Baltimore that provides job training and other help to poor families.</p><p>They made this offer: If the parent takes the center&#39;s month-long employment training course and lands a job, the state will forgive 10 percent of his or her child support debt. If they complete a Responsible Fatherhood program, the state will write off another 15 percent. One of the first persons to sign up was a mother, though the vast majority of noncustodial parents are men.</p><p>In a separate &quot;debt compromise&quot; program, Maryland will also write off 50 percent of a parent&#39;s child support debt if they maintain monthly payments for a year.</p><p>Response has been slow. In two years, slightly more than 100 parents have signed on.</p><div id="res456668086" previewtitle="From left, Stephen Johnson, Harrelle Felipa and Cornelius Dixon attend a Responsible Fatherhood meeting at the Center for Urban Families on Nov. 11 in Baltimore. In exchange for participation in programs such as this, the state will reduce the men's child support debt."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="From left, Stephen Johnson, Harrelle Felipa and Cornelius Dixon attend a Responsible Fatherhood meeting at the Center for Urban Families on Nov. 11 in Baltimore. In exchange for participation in programs such as this, the state will reduce the men's child support debt." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/19/responsible-fathers-meeting-jtsuboike-0399-edit-deaa96de02f501a6266c8882ce230ddbf017d974-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 464px; width: 620px;" title="From left, Stephen Johnson, Harrelle Felipa and Cornelius Dixon attend a Responsible Fatherhood meeting at the Center for Urban Families on Nov. 11 in Baltimore. In exchange for participation in programs such as this, the state will reduce the men's child support debt." /></div><div><div><p>Many of them attend fatherhood meetings like one held on a recent Wednesday night. Two dozen men &mdash; 20-something to middle age, in sweats and in suits &mdash; sit in a large square.</p></div></div></div><p>Some complain their exes won&#39;t let them see their child if they haven&#39;t paid child support. Others don&#39;t understand why it doesn&#39;t count as support when they take their kids out to eat, or buy them clothes &mdash; or say they would do those sorts of things for their kids if their child support obligation wasn&#39;t so heavy.</p><p>Mostly, like 30-year-old Lee Ford, they say it&#39;s so hard to find work</p><p>&quot;You telling me no matter what, I gotta pay. But I can&#39;t get a job to work to save my soul,&quot; he says.</p><p>Group leader Eddie White cuts no slack.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Group%20leader%20Eddie%20White%20speaks%20during%20the%20meeting.%20Around%20two%20dozen%20men%20%E2%80%94%2020-something%20to%20middle%20age%2C%20in%20sweats%20and%20in%20suits%20%E2%80%94%20sit%20in%20a%20large%20square%20each%20week%20and%20discuss%20topics%20ranging%20from%20parenting%2C%20debt%20and%20unemployment..JPG" style="height: 420px; width: 620px;" title="Group leader Eddie White speaks during the meeting. Around two dozen men — 20-something to middle age, in sweats and in suits — sit in a large square each week and discuss topics ranging from parenting, debt and unemployment. (Jun Tsuboike/NPR)" /></div><p>&quot;If you know you got a criminal record, sure it&#39;s gonna be hard for you to get a job. But it don&#39;t mean you can&#39;t work,&quot; White says.</p><p>A big part of this class is also educational. White asks the men what a person who is paying child support should do if he gets laid off or loses his job.</p><p>&quot;There you go, that&#39;s the word. Immediately,&quot; White says. &quot;Immediately ask the court for an adjustment.&quot;</p><p><strong>Other Approaches To Debt Relief</strong></p><p>Maryland&#39;s program is part of a larger effort to keep impoverished parents from racking up child support debt in the first place.</p><p>Some states are trying to speed up the cumbersome process of adjusting an order when a parent loses a job. Ohio has experimented with sending simple reminders &mdash; by phone, mail or text &mdash; to parents who need to send in monthly payments. Texas has reached out to newly incarcerated parents, to let them know they can apply to have their payments reduced while in prison &mdash; something not all states allow.</p><p>&quot;We sent out a teaser postcard trying to combat the ostrich effect,&quot; says Emily Schmidt, a research analyst with the U.S. Administration for Children and Families, who helped with the Texas effort.</p><p>Schmidt says there was concern that someone going through the emotional transition of incarceration wouldn&#39;t likely be thinking about child support, and may not even open a letter from the state. So they printed the postcard on blue paper to stand out, and, taking a cue from marketers, it said, &quot;Four easy steps to lowering your child support.&quot;</p><p>After 100 days, the response rate among parents was up 11 percent, &quot;a very low-cost intervention for a fairly dramatic effect,&quot; Schmidt says.</p><p>The Obama administration wants to &quot;right size&quot; child support orders from the start, and has proposed regulations to make sure they are set according to what parents actually earn. Officials say some jurisdictions base orders on a full-time minimum wage, even if a parent earns far less. They say this can backfire, leaving so little money after a parent&#39;s wages are garnished that he or she quits and works underground instead.</p><p>The White House&#39;s proposals also would provide more job training for parents with child support debt &mdash; something Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution says is a good investment.</p><p>&quot;More fathers will get a job, more fathers will have earnings, and more fathers will use those earnings to pay child support,&quot; he says.</p><p>So far, that&#39;s what&#39;s happened in Baltimore. The numbers are small. But the amount of child support that&#39;s been paid is more than double the amount of debt written off.</p><p>Maryland wants to expand its child support debt forgiveness program, hoping to help more parents to pay what they can.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/11/20/456353691/some-states-are-cutting-poor-dads-a-deal-on-unpaid-child-support?ft=nprml&amp;f=456353691" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Fri, 20 Nov 2015 14:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/some-states-are-cutting-poor-dads-deal-unpaid-child-support-113877 Greencorps graduates cultivate city's green jobs http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/greencorps-graduates-cultivate-citys-green-jobs-105042 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/greencorps-graduation-gabe-klein.jpg" title="Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein congratulates the 2012 class of Greencorps — a green jobs training program run by the city. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></p><p>Another 22 Chicagoans graduated Friday from the city&rsquo;s green job training program, Greencorps Chicago, earning qualifications in a slew of industry skills and hopefully a leg-up in a job market that previously deemed them hard-to-employ.</p><p>This was a transition year for the 19-year-old program, as the city&rsquo;s Department of Environment continued its merger with the Department of Transportation. The 2012 program was scaled back from previous years, notably phasing out its direct support for community gardens.</p><p>In addition to their Greencorps diplomas, each graduate collected a binder of certificates earned throughout the course of the program, from hazardous materials training and CPR to brownfield clean-up.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s more than just planting trees and shrubs,&rdquo; <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2004-01-02/news/0401020175_1_employment-counseling-and-training-homeless-shelter-job">Felicia Solebo</a>, a program alumna, told the 2012 class gathered at Garfield Park Conservatory on Friday. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s about our community and creating a better quality of life.&rdquo;</p><p>Solebo spent years looking for work after her release from prison in 1993. Greencorps and other job training programs helped her land a job with Christy Webber Landscapes, where she has worked for 13 years.</p><p>Greencorps has graduated 415 Chicagoans since 1994. The work &mdash; planting trees, landscaping and helping manage Chicagoland&rsquo;s natural areas &mdash; pays minimum wage and emphasizes hands-on learning.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/treasa-wilson.jpg" title="Treasa Wilson, a 55-year-old custodian from the city's West Side, was the 2012 class speaker. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></p><p>&ldquo;You learn a lot, including about nature itself,&rdquo; said 55-year-old Treasa Wilson, a custodian and 2012 graduate of the program. &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t really appreciate nature before.&rdquo;</p><p>Wilson grew up in East Garfield Park and now lives in Austin. Once terrified of worms, Wilson now wants to work in a plant nursery.&nbsp;Her transformation began three years ago, when she started keeping plants to cope with the loss of her grandson, Johnathan. She started caring for them like family members.</p><p>&ldquo;You have to nourish plants,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Just like human beings.&rdquo;</p><p>Greencorps was a more formal introduction to botany and landscaping. Wilson learned to identify plant species in the wild, cut back invasive buckthorn and manage landscapes through controlled burning. She is studying for her GED.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re just trying to make this a better place to live, and make this a cleaner and greener city,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;But it&rsquo;s going to take more than just me and Greencorps.<em>&quot;</em></p></p> Mon, 21 Jan 2013 07:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/greencorps-graduates-cultivate-citys-green-jobs-105042 Illinois donates surplus computers to vets http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-donates-surplus-computers-vets-104060 <p><p>SPRINGFIELD, Ill.&nbsp; &mdash; Illinois is donating 400 repaired, surplus computers to veterans groups for job training programs.</p><p>The state Department of Central Management Services and the Department of Veterans&#39; Affairs announced the plans Tuesday.</p><p>The computers are desktops and laptops from federal agencies made available through Illinois&#39; federal surplus program. They&#39;re refurbished and have had hard-drive cleanups and minor repairs, so they should be ready for use. Each computer has Windows software installed.</p><p>Illinois officials estimate the computers are worth approximately $150,000.</p><p>Earlier this year, the state&#39;s Central Management Services department donated millions of dollars&#39; worth of surplus boots, coats, mittens and other winter gear to charitable groups.</p></p> Wed, 28 Nov 2012 08:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-donates-surplus-computers-vets-104060 Navistar layoffs add to doubts about incentives http://www.wbez.org/content/navistar-layoffs-add-doubts-about-incentives <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-December/2011-12-23/AP05060901633.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="The workers helped design International brand trucks. (AP/File)" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-23/Navistar_truck_SCALED.jpg" style="margin: 9px 18px 5px 1px; float: left; width: 308px; height: 207px;" title="The workers helped design International brand trucks. (AP/File)">Sears Holdings Corp. and Chicago’s financial exchanges have quit threatening to pull up stakes now that Illinois has enacted tax breaks for them. But it remains unclear whether state incentives to big companies are wise uses of economic-development resources. A personnel shift by Lisle-based Navistar International Corp. will add fresh doubt.</p><p>WBEZ has learned that some new jobs Navistar promised under an Illinois incentive agreement are coming to the state at the expense of unionized workers in Indiana.</p><p>Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced the Navistar incentives last year after the company threatened to pack up its headquarters in west suburban Warrenville and leave the state. The deal committed Illinois to a $64.7 million bundle of tax credits and job-training subsidies for the company. It committed Navistar to moving the headquarters to Lisle, a couple miles east, and to adding 400 full-time Illinois employees.</p><p>Navistar’s first report to the state about the jobs isn’t due until next year, so it’s hard to tell how many positions the company has created thus far. Employees confirm that dozens of new engineers and designers are working at the Lisle facility.</p><p>Navistar is creating those jobs as it phases out its Truck Development and Technology Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana, just three hours southeast of Chicago. The latest Fort Wayne cuts came December 2, when the company laid off 130 employees, mostly engineers and designers who are United Auto Workers members. Before the layoff, some of the Fort Wayne workers had to help train their Lisle replacements.</p><p>Navistar has “rewritten the job descriptions so the people that used to do the work here — the union folks — don’t qualify anymore on paper,” said Craig Randolph, a design engineer the company laid off after 15 years at the Fort Wayne center. “So they’re eliminating the high-seniority, older employees like myself and replacing them with nonunion college kids — guys fresh out of school. And the taxpayers in Illinois are subsidizing the whole thing.”</p><p>Asked for a response, Navistar spokeswoman Karen Denning called it unusual for engineers to have union representation in the first place, a claim disputed by auto industry experts. Denning also sent a statement that said the company’s decision to shift the Fort Wayne jobs to Lisle was “based solely on our desire to compete in the global economy.” The statement added that Navistar has allowed many Fort Wayne employees to relocate to the Chicago area and stay with the company.</p><p>The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity sent a statement that doesn’t directly address whether the Navistar incentives have anything to do with the Fort Wayne layoffs. The statement says the state’s assistance to companies like Navistar over the last decade has “created and retained tens of thousands of jobs,” including unionized positions.</p><p>There’s not much proof to back up such claims. Scholars who study the effects of corporate incentives point out that companies decide where to operate based on proximity to suppliers, markets, transportation and so on. Another factor is whether workers are bargaining collectively. Just this summer, Navistar announced it was closing a unionized plant in Chatham, Ontario. The company has moved that work to nonunion facilities in Texas and Mexico.</p><p>“I don’t think that the [Illinois] incentives are causing Navistar to shift around its workforce,” said Rachel Weber, an associate professor of Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “But they do send a message that the public sector and taxpayers are validating these kinds of activities. And, if you asked a lot of taxpayers in the state of Illinois whether they’d want to support these kinds of activities, I don’t think they’d be so happy about it.”</p><p>Weber pointed out that the economies of Illinois and Indiana intertwine closely and said it would help both states to quit poaching jobs from each other. Eliminating state incentives for corporations, she added, would free up resources for everything from workforce readiness to small-business incubation.</p><p>The union, for its part, didn’t return calls about the Fort Wayne layoffs and isn’t creating a public fuss about them. That raises questions about the role of UAW Secretary-Treasurer Dennis Williams, who serves on Navistar’s board of directors under a decades-old agreement that reserved the seat for the union. Because Williams draws salaries from both the UAW and Navistar, and because he once directed a UAW region that includes Illinois but not Indiana, some of the union’s Fort Wayne members accuse him of hanging them out to dry.</p></p> Fri, 23 Dec 2011 16:22:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/navistar-layoffs-add-doubts-about-incentives Jackson pushes Obama to focus on construction http://www.wbez.org/story/jackson-pushes-obama-focus-construction-91531 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-05/Jesse Jackson.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>As President Obama gears up for a Thursday speech before Congress about his jobs agenda, a civil rights leader in his hometown is urging him to focus on proposing massive investment in construction projects.</p><p>With official unemployment hovering above 9 percent, the president is expected to propose training for the long-term jobless, tax credits for companies that hire new workers and an extension of payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits.</p><p>Rev. Jesse Jackson said those steps won’t be enough. “You put people back to work fixing our infrastructure, our houses and our transportation,” he said. “We work our way out of the hole. We don’t complain our way out. [President Obama] has the key to, in fact, invest in a mammoth way in putting America back to work.”</p><p>In a Monday speech to Detroit union activists, the president did bring up infrastructure. But Republicans, who control the U.S. House, are indicating they will try to block new outlays that would add to the budget deficit.</p></p> Tue, 06 Sep 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/jackson-pushes-obama-focus-construction-91531 Venture: No jobs, no job skills for lots of black teens http://www.wbez.org/content/venture-no-jobs-no-job-skills-lots-black-teens <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-17/photoedit.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="Young men participate in a Chicago Urban League mentoring program. " class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-17/photoedit.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 270px; margin: 5px;" title="(WBEZ/Natalie Moore)"></p><p>Updated numbers on jobless claims come out this week, and they'll shed more light on the outlook for employment. It's clear one group continues to struggle in that area.<br> <br> Nearly half of black teenagers in Illinois are unemployed. In Chicago the number is even worse: 89 percent don't have work.&nbsp; A stagnant economy, under-resourced communities and lack of opportunities are all factors. Not getting work skills at an early age can be an economic disadvantage for a lifetime.<br> <br> Kenyatta Lockett is 19 and works in the stockroom at a small grocery store on East 79th Street.<br> <br> LOCKETT: I'm looking for a summer job. I'm trying to look for a summer job because this is only temporary.<br> <br> Lockett says it's hard to find a BETTER job because she dropped out of high school.<br> <br> But now she's enrolled in a GED and transitional job program to get back on track.<br> <br> The high unemployment numbers for her demographic disappoint Lockett.<br> <br> LOCKETT: I think it makes us look bad because we're supposed to set examples for other people. For people that are a younger generation than us.<br> <br> Lockett says she regrets dropping out of high school. She has friends in similar predicaments, products of Chicago's high dropout rate and vainly looking for work.<br> <br> Experts say that lack of education figures mightily. So do segregated communities with few job opportunities.<br> <br> Andrea Zopp is head of the Chicago Urban League.<br> <br> She contrasts her own stable, retail-thriving neighborhood of Beverly with other parts of the city.<br> <br> ZOPP: My kids when they went to look for jobs, could find a part-time job within a couple of miles of the house. You take a kid living in Englewood or kid living in Roseland, there's not that economic engine there.<br> <br> Zopp says part-time jobs allow young people to be involved in their communities- in a positive way. That's top of mind for those looking to help head off an uptick in youth crime when the weather is warm.<br> <br> Zopp's pushing local businesses to do summer hiring. A company may need a storeroom cleaned out or a landscaping company may need extra seasonal help. The message Zopp gives business owners is that it's relatively cheap to bring in some summer employees.<br> <br> And it's critical. Contrast 89 percent unemployment for black Chicago teens with 72 percent for white teens.<br> <br> ZOPP: The issue is our young people are sort of at the bottom of the food chain when it comes to getting jobs.<br> <br> William Rodgers agrees.<br> <br> He's a professor and economist at Rutgers University. He's looked at ways in which early work helps a teenager later on.<br> <br> RODGERS: In this day and age with our service economy, it's teaching you what we call the soft skills. It's teaching you about punctuality, it's teaching you about when you're interacting with someone, you're looking at them with a straight eye, it's teaching you about wearing those pants up around your waist with a belt.<br> <br> Research shows a&nbsp; lack of those soft skills…and other job experience…sets a young person up for a harder time getting into the job market after high school, as well as high teen pregnancy and a greater chance of involvement with the criminal justice system.<br> <br> And it appears that the disadvantages linger. &nbsp;<br> <br> A 1994&nbsp; labor journal study showed that high school seniors who worked 20 hours a week were earning 22 percent more than their peers six to nine years later.<br> <br> ambi: Those are olives<br> <br> It's a Friday afternoon and about 20 black male teens file into a room, stacking their plates with pizza. They are part of a mentoring program sponsored by the Chicago Urban League. They're also taught job readiness skills.<br> <br> JONES: My name is Romaro Jones. I attend Paul Robeson High School. I play sports: football, baseball, track.<br> <br> He's 18,&nbsp; and has yet to find a summer job.<br> <br> JONES: It seems like every time I go out for a job, it seems like I don't meet the criteria that they want That's what it seems like to me - I don't know why.<br> <br> He predicts what happens if his peers don't work.<br> <br> JONES:&nbsp; Everybody gonna be outside on the block doing illegal stuff cause they ain't got nothing else to do.<br> <br> Some of the guys are applying for a job through the City of Chicago, which expects to hire about 14,000 youth this summer. That's down from 18,000 jobs last year. &nbsp;<br> <br> Mike Moss sees the benefits to individuals and neighborhoods when kids work.<br> <br> He owns property in Englewood. When he started rehabbing, he began to worry about the all the young people around.<br> <br> MOSS: It was late in the evening and then I started hearing gunshots and I was like, 'Are you serious?' And so I told my wife, once we get through with the building and get the apartments ready, we're going to carve out these basements.<br> <br> In that basement, he's planning to start a job training program for about 50 youth.<br> <br> MOSS: I've been doing a survey with the parents, a lot of the parents don't have plans for their children this summer.<br> <br> The teens will punch in for six hours a day and learn some skills, like how to manage money and how to go out on painting jobs.<br> <br> He says he'll pay them out of his own pocket. Moss knows it's small, but he hopes it's an effective bridge in a larger economic divide.<br> <br> I'm Natalie Moore.<br> <br> And I'm Cate Cahan.</p><p><br> <br> <br> &nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 20 Jun 2011 10:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/venture-no-jobs-no-job-skills-lots-black-teens Restoring nature - and lives - on Chicago's Southeast Side http://www.wbez.org/story/restoring-nature-and-lives-chicagos-southeast-side-87981 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-17/videos 032.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago’s developed a reputation as a green city.&nbsp; And a lot of attention’s gone in making the emerald span of lakeside parks shine. But the city’s also working to improve less well-known areas, including Hegewisch Marsh on the far Southeast Side.&nbsp;The marsh is an ecologically valuable wetland, but it was also a dumping ground for big-industry. One twist is that the people improving this long-neglected place are people society sometimes forgets.</p><p>Paul Hickenbottom spent last weekend at Hegewisch Marsh, a 130-acre wetland at 130th Street and Torrence Avenue - near the Ford Motor Plant. His job? Pulling out weeds and invasive, harmful plants.<br> &nbsp;<br> HICKENBOTTOM: I’m a restoration tech. We do restoration work. We do restoration work. We remove invasive species, cut down trees, plant I.D.<br> <br> Hickenbottom’s part of a year-old project called Green Corp Calumet. It’s put on through Chicago’s Department of Environment, and the purpose is to provide forestry training, especially to people who have a hard time landing steady work. That includes people who with criminal records, people like Hickenbottom.<br> <br> HICKENBOTTOM: I had 20 straight years. First Degree murder.<br> PUENTE: How old were you when you were convicted of murder?<br> HICKENBOTTOM: I was 25. Young and stupid. That’s an episode of my life that I assume forgot.<br> <br> But it’s hard to forget because that conviction hampers Hickenbottom’s ability to hold onto to a job. Hickenbottom got out of prison five years ago. He took a stab janitorial work, and then delivering food. But neither stuck.<br> <br> Now, he’s 48 years old and says maybe he’s just now finding his calling - doing work for Green Corp Calumet.<br> <br> HICKENBOTTOM: I never thought this would be for me but it grows on you. I would love to stay in the green field. I want to go into the nursery to bring a plant up from birth and watch it flourish.<br> <br> Zach Taylor is a guy who likes to hear these kinds of comments. Taylor heads of Green Corp Calumet, which happens to be funded by the U.S. Forestry Service. Trainees receive 18 months of on the job experience. Taylor says participants are paid, but there’s an even more important benefit: they might have a chance to do restoration work, for good.<br> <br> TAYLOR: There’s probably four or five contractors in the Chicagoland region that do strictly ecological restoration work. There are also a lot of wetland mitigation projects. Anytime you fill in a wetland, it needs to be restored and replaced in some way. These type of companies come in and do that.<br> <br> ELMORE: I rode past here on a daily basis. I didn’t have a clue what was over here. I’ve lived in this area for 30 years and never, ever knew what this was.<br> <br> That’s Brenda Elmore, who’s also helping to restore Hegewisch Marsh. She spent five years in prison for selling drugs. Elmore’s been out two years now. She tried a career in cosmetology but fell out of it.<br> <br> Elmore says she’s not disappointed, though. She says working in the Hegewisch Marsh has a calming effect on her -- even on bad days.<br> <br> ELMORE: You can be upset when you come to work but just coming out to places like this into the marsh, it’s calming to see deer. You don’t see deer in the urban area. We’ve seen all kinds of things out here. You know like snakes. I’m not very found of snakes but I’m getting a little better.<br> <br> Elmore says she wishes she had been exposed to nature earlier in life.<br> <br> ELMORE: I couldn’t image ever being a part of that I’m a part of now. And it has totally changed my life.<br> <br> Now that she’s found this experience in nature, Elmore hopes she’ll never let it go. Elmore and the other Green Corp Calumet trainees will wrap up their work by the end of this summer.</p></p> Fri, 17 Jun 2011 05:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/restoring-nature-and-lives-chicagos-southeast-side-87981 Laid Off Camp Chicago http://www.wbez.org/ahill/2009/06/laid-off-camp-chicago/7355 <p>The <a href="http://wiki.laidoffcamp.com/Chicago">Laid Off Camp Chicago event </a>is‚ scheduled on Wednesday.‚  It's ‚ free (but you do need a ticket) and looks like it could be interesting.... "LaidOffCamps are ad-hoc gatherings of unemployed and nontraditionally employed people (including freelancers, entrepreneurs and startups) who want to share ideas and learn from each other. They feature an open, participatory discussion forum designed to educate, empower, and connect community members. The various presentations, workshops, and discussions focus on topics that may include: building your personal brand, transitioning to a new industry, legal &amp; accounting demands of launching a new business, finding affordable health insurance, alternative working spaces, alternative income sources, and how to become a freelancer."</p> Mon, 08 Jun 2009 13:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/ahill/2009/06/laid-off-camp-chicago/7355 Chicago Gets $34 Million for Job Training http://www.wbez.org/ahill/2009/06/chicago-gets-34-million-for-job-training/7353 <p><table border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="6" width="100%"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="text-align:left;">From Chicago: <a href="http://egov.cityofchicago.org/city/webportal/portalContentItemAction.do?BV_SessionID=@@@@1427146179.1243884285@@@@&amp;BV_EngineID=ccceadehglihkhkcefecelldffhdfif.0&amp;contentOID=537045475&amp;contenTypeName=COC_EDITORIAL&amp;topChannelName=Dept&amp;blockName=Workforce+Development%2FI+Want+To&amp;context=dept&amp;channelId=0&amp;programId=0&amp;entityName=Workforce+Development&amp;deptMainCategoryOID=">Federal funding to provide job search, training assistance</a></td> </tr> <tr> <td>Mayor Richard M. Daley today announced the City will receive approximately $34 million from a combination of federal sources to provide job search and job training services for Chicagoans struggling to remain economically secure during the difficult economic times. "With most people in agreement that an economic turnaround is a long way off, we are facing a new problem: more people than ever before need support from our workforce development system," Daley said in a news conference held at the Greater West Town Community Development Project, a job training center at 2031 W. Fulton St. "This includes a broad range of Chicagoans: not only disadvantaged populations, such as ex-offenders and the homeless, but also young people, blue collar workers and white collar workers," he said. The mayor said that the City's Department of Community Development will receive the money starting now and continuing over the next several months. It will be used to provide assistance to Chicago residents through summer, 2010. Overall, the funding the City receives will provide job search, job training and job placement services to approximately 7,500 job seekers and training for 3,400 residents -- about 5,000 more people than the City was able to help last year. The $34 million comes from two sources: ‚  <li>$17.8 million through the American Recovery &amp; Reinvestment Act</li> <li>An estimated $16 million through the regular annual distribution of Workforce Investment Act fundsThe funds will be used to assist low income adults who meet certain income guidelines and any other people who have recently lost their jobs. Starting in July, $17.7 million will be used to expand job training programs, including: ‚ </li> <li>Tuition assistance for job training programs</li> <li>"Bridge" programs to provide basic reading and math skills for low literacy residents</li> <li>Programs to prepare for "green" jobs and jobs in fields with skills shortages, such as health care, information technology and transportation</li> <li>Assistance for residents who are employed but need to upgrade their skills</li> <li>Career counseling programs The City will also use $16.2 million to expand its WorkNet Chicago System, which provides job search and training assistance through five WorkNet Centers, through its manufacturing and service centers and through 22 delegate agencies covering more than 30 neighborhoods throughout the city. "Our workforce centers are often the first place an unemployed or laid off person goes to get help from the City, which is why we wanted to make sure the stimulus dollars went there first," Daley said. The centers offer free services to residents, such as skills assessments, job search assistance, help in creating resumes, and access to other support, such as help with transportation costs. They are also the places local businesses go to find a skilled workforce. The WorkNet Centers and manufacturing and service sector centers have already received about $8 million of the federal funds and are ramping up capacity to serve more residents. The remaining funds will be allocated to the 22 delegate agencies beginning in July. "I want to encourage unemployed or paid off Chicago residents to visit the five Chicago Workforce Centers and the two sector centers now," Daley said. "More people than ever need jobs, education and training. They need opportunities. With this federal support, we will aim to help them improve their skills, find work and support themselves and their families," he said. To further strengthen the City's commitment to enhancing workforce development during these challenging economic times, Daley also announced the City has established the Chicago Workforce Investment Council, composed of business, education and civic leaders who will help provide strategic advice on workforce-related investments citywide. The Council will help oversee distribution of the $300 million in public funds spent annually in Chicago on workforce development in addition to the federal stimulus dollars. Complete information about workforce programs can be found on the City's website or by calling 311. All Chicago Workforce Centers are open Monday through Friday, closed weekends and holidays. Orientation times for each Workforce Center are listed below. Please call ahead to confirm these times, as they are subject to change without advance notice. Chicago Workforce Center -- North Side 4740 N. Sheridan 773-334-4747 TTY: 773-334-9804 Orientation: 9:00am - Monday through Thursday Chicago Workforce Center - Garfield 10 S. Kedzie, Room 134 773-722-3885 TTY: 773-722-6081 Orientation: 9:00am -- Monday through Thursday Chicago Workforce Center - Pilsen 1657 S. Blue Island 312-243-5100 or 312-265-5695 TTY: 312-738-0766 Orientation: 8:30am -- Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday Chicago Workforce Center - Mid-South 4314 S. Cottage Grove 773-538-5627 TTY: 773-538-8260 Orientation: 8:45am -- Monday through Thursday Chicago Workforce Center - Southwest 7500 S. Pulaski, Bldg 100 773-884-7000 TTY: 773-884-0269 Orientation: 8:30am -- Monday through Thursday Chicago ManufacturingWorks Center 2800 S. Western Ave, Suite 1309 773-523-2516 TTY: None Orientation: Offered As Needed (Center Hours are 9:00 am - 5:00 pm) Chicago ServiceWorks Center 500 N. Dearborn St. Suite 850 312-494-9346 TTY: None</li> </td> </tr> </tbody></table></p> Mon, 01 Jun 2009 13:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/ahill/2009/06/chicago-gets-34-million-for-job-training/7353 President pushes for job training funding http://www.wbez.org/ahill/2009/05/president-pushes-for-job-training-funding/7340 <p>From the <a href="http://www.boston.com/news/politics/politicalintelligence/2009/05/obama_wants_ste.html">Boston Globe</a>: With the new jobless numbers offering that "glimmer of hope" he has been pitching, President Obama today to offered more help to the unemployed. The lower figures, he said, are no "solace" to the laid-off who can't find jobs and struggle to support their families. And to emerge stronger from the recession, the nation's workforce must come out stronger out of the downturn. So he laid out proposals to allow people without work to enroll in community college and other education and training programs without sacrificing their unemployment checks. He also wants to make it easier for the jobless to qualify for financial aid for colleges by not basing their eligibility on their prior year's income when they had a job. The current rules are "senseless" when workers need to prepare themselves for jobs that often require more training. He cited the case of a Maine woman who did get help because the state already has such regulations. "That's what our unemployment system should be, not just a safety net, but a stepping stone to a new future," Obama said. Obama also announced a new website (click <a href="http://federalstudentaid.ed.gov/opportunity/index.html">here</a>) where laid-off workers can find out more about educational opportunities. He also announced that Jill Biden, the vice president's wife who has taught at community colleges, will lead an effort to raise awareness of what they offer. Obama spoke hours after the Labor Department reported that the pace of layoffs slowed in April, when employers slashed 539,000 jobs, the fewest in six months. But after revised, higher numbers of layoffs in February and March, the unemployment rate rose to 8.9 percent, the highest in more than a quarter century. And since the recession began in December 2007, the economy has lost 5.7 million jobs The layoffs are "still a sobering toll" and it could take years to recover from the recession, the president said. (His full remarks are below.) The National Employment Law Project praised Obama's initiatives, saying in a <a href="http://nelp.3cdn.net/5f82086b7f878110f4_6jm6bn04z.pdf">report</a> that despite federal law barring states from denying unemployment benefits to workers in "state-approved training," many states only allow limited access to benefits. "In a time when unemployment is at near-unprecedented levels, with long durations of joblessness and substantial job loss -- and with the federal government picking up the tab for 20 to 53 weeks of extended jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed, it is critical that states adopt this change to give workers the chance to develop skills that will help them find sustained work and stay afloat while they do so," the group's policy co-director, Maurice Emsellem, said in a statement. Representative John Boehner, the House Republican leader, also jumped on the numbers, using them to criticize Obama's game plan. "About two and a half million jobs have been lost since the beginning of the year, yet some here in Washington continue to believe that we can borrow and spend our way back to prosperity," Boehner said in a statement. "Rather than working across the aisle on plans to create more jobs, rebuild Americans' savings, and reinvigorate the housing market, the spending, taxing, and borrowing binge that the Administration and Congress have set out on in the first four months of this year isn't helping our economy." OBAMA'S REMARKS THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. This morning we learned that our economy lost another 539,000 jobs in the month of April. And while it's somewhat encouraging that this number is lower than it's been in each of the past six months, it's still a sobering toll. The unemployment rate is at its highest point in 25 years. It underscores the point that we're still in the midst of a recession that was years in the making and will be months or even years in the unmaking; and we should expect further job losses in the months to come. Although we have a long way to go before we can put this recession behind us, the gears of our economic engine do appear to slowly -- to be slowly turning once again. Consumer spending and home sales are stabilizing; construction spending is up for the first time in six months. So step by step, we're beginning to make progress. Of course, that's no solace to those who've lost their jobs, or to the small business owners whose hearts break at letting long-time employees go. It's no relief for those who continue to send out resume after resume, and then wait for a call. And it's of little comfort to the families who wake up wondering how they're going to pay their bills, stay in their homes, or put food on the table -- the Americans I've met in towns across this country, or whose letters I read every night. They're letters of struggle but they're also of service to others. They're stories of heartbreak, but they're also stories of hope. It's the story of the small business owner in California who wrote that as long as her employees depend on her, "I will not give up." That's what she said. The veteran in Oklahoma, who wrote, "We've all got a long way to go. But we'll stick together and get through this." Or the mother in Michigan who wrote that she and her husband can't make ends meet, but as long as they have their jobs, they'll work 24 hours a day to send their children to college. This woman ended her letter by saying, "I'm not writing to tell you about my troubles -- I'm writing to please ask you to act quickly to help all the people like me." Such hard-working Americans are why I ran for President. They're the reason we've been working swiftly and aggressively across all fronts to turn this economy around; to jumpstart spending and hiring and create jobs where we can with steps like the Recovery Act. Because of this plan, cops are still on the beat and teachers are still in the classroom; shovels are breaking ground and cranes dot the sky; and new life has been breathed into private companies like Sharon Arnold's. And already, 95 percent of working Americans are seeing a tax cut that we promised would show up in their paychecks. We're moving forward because now is not the time for small plans. It's not a time to pause or to be passive or to wait around for our problems to somehow fix themselves. Now is the time to put a new foundation for growth in place -- to rebuild our economy, to retrain our workforce, and re-equip the American people. And now is the time to change unemployment from a period of "wait and see" to a chance for our workers to train and seek the next opportunity -- so when that new and better day does come around, our people, our industry, and our entire country are ready to make the most of it. Now, if we want to come out of this recession stronger than before, we need to make sure that our workforce is better prepared than ever before. Right now, someone who doesn't have a college degree is more than twice as likely to be unemployed as someone who does. And so many of the Americans who have lost their jobs can't find new ones because they simply don't have the skills and the training they need for the jobs they want. In a 21st century economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, education is the single best bet we can make -- not just for our individual success, but for the success of the nation as a whole. The average college graduate earns 80 percent more than those who stopped after high school. So if we want to help people not only get back on their feet today but prosper tomorrow, we need to take a rigorous new approach to higher education and technical training. And that starts by changing senseless rules that discourage displaced workers from getting the education and training they need to find and fill the jobs of the future. So today I'm announcing new steps we are taking to do exactly that -- to give people across America who have lost their jobs the chance to go back to school today to get retrained for the jobs and industries of tomorrow. The idea here is to fundamentally change our approach to unemployment in this country, so that it's no longer just a time to look for a new job, but is also a time to prepare yourself for a better job. That's what our unemployment system should be -- not just a safety net, but a stepping stone to a new future. It should offer folks educational opportunities they wouldn't otherwise have, giving them the measurable and differentiated skills they need just -- not just to get through hard times, but to get ahead when the economy comes back. And that's what Maureen Pike did. Maureen lost her job as a physician's receptionist, but she didn't lose hope. She took it as an opportunity to upgrade her skills and earned an associate's degree in nursing from a community college. As a consequence, today she works as a registered nurse. The only reason she could afford to do that while supporting her twins was because the state of Maine allowed her to keep her unemployment benefits and study with the help from a Pell Grant. Pell Grants cover tuition at almost every community college in the country, and unemployment benefits can help those studying to gain new skills to support their families at the same time. But today, far too many Americans are denied that opportunity. Let me just give you an example. Say an unemployed factory worker wants to upgrade his skills to become a mechanic or a technician. In many states, that worker might lose temporary financial support if he enrolls in a training program. And to make matters worse, unemployment might mean he can't afford higher education, and he likely won't qualify for federal help simply because he may have made a decent salary a year ago, before he was laid off. Well, that doesn't make much sense for our economy or our country. So we're going to change it. First, we'll open new doors to higher education and job training programs to recently laid-off workers who are receiving unemployment benefits. And if those displaced workers need help paying for their education, they should get it -- and that's why the next step is to make it easier for them to receive Pell Grants of the sort that Maureen used. I've asked my Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, and my Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, to work closely with states and our institutions of higher learning and encourage them not only to allow these changes, but to inform all workers receiving unemployment benefits of the training programs and financial support open to them. And together, the Department of Education and the Department of Labor have created a new website called opportunity.gov -- I'll repeat that, opportunity.gov -- to help workers discover and take advantage of these opportunities. And together, these changes will increase access to education and opportunity for hundreds of thousands of workers who've been stung by this recession -- people just like Maureen. And like her, many may take advantage of one of America's underappreciated assets -- and that's our community colleges. These schools offer practical education and technical training, and they're increasingly important centers of learning where Americans can prepare for the jobs of the future. And that's also why I'm asking Dr. Jill Biden, a community college professor who's devoted her entire life to education -- and who happens to be married to the Vice President -- to lead a national effort to raise awareness about what we're doing to open the doors to our community colleges. So I think this is one more piece of the puzzle. It's a good start. It is only a start, though. These steps are just a short-term down payment on our larger goal of ensuring that all Americans get the skills and education they need to succeed in today's economy. And to that end, I have asked once again every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. It can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship; but whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma. And we will be backing up that effort with the support necessary. And we will ensure that by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. In the weeks to come, I will also lay out a fundamental rethinking of our job training, vocational education, and community college programs. It's time to move beyond the idea that we need several different programs to address several different problems -- we need one comprehensive policy that addresses our comprehensive challenges. That's how we'll open the doors of opportunity and lay a new foundation for our economic growth -- by investing in our citizens. That's how we've always emerged from tough times stronger than before -- because of the hard work and determination and ingenuity of the American people. And I am confident that if we summon that spirit once again, we will get through this; we will see our nation recover; and together, along with folks like Maureen and Sharon, we're going to put America on the path to shared and lasting prosperity once again. Thank you very much everybody. Have a great weekend.</p> Fri, 08 May 2009 11:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/ahill/2009/05/president-pushes-for-job-training-funding/7340