Interview by Caitlin Schnur, Policy and Research Assistant, National Transitional Jobs Network
Racial inequality is still painfully widespread—with the unemployment rate for black Americans at about double that of white Americans, more than one in five working age black men living in poverty, and more African-Americans on probation, parole, or in prison today than were slaves in 1850, our country needs to stop standing by and start standing up for black men. With support from the Open Society Foundations’ Campaign for Black Male Achievement (CBMA), the National Transitional Jobs Network (NTJN) B.MORE project is opening doors to employment and economic advancement for low-income black men across the country.
Earlier this year, NTJN brought on James Jones as the B.MORE Project Coordinator. James’ previous work experience involved community organizing, coalition building, and advocacy for residents of public housing in St. Louis, New Orleans, and Washington, D.C. While James loved working directly with constituents, he was drawn to the B.MORE Project because he knew it would give him a different lens through which to approach anti-poverty work.
In this interview, the NTJN’s Policy and Research Assistant, Caitlin Schnur, sat down with James to talk about the B.MORE Project’s current work, the importance of collaboration across related fields, and why he can’t get enough of E&L Barbeque in Jackson, Mississippi.
Last week, House Democrats introduced the Workforce Investment Act of 2013 (H.R.798) aimed at reauthorizing the Workforce Investment Act. The bill was introduced by Representatives John Tierney (D-MA), Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX) and George Miller (D-CA) and seeks to modernize the current system by promoting more effective coordination among local stakeholders including business representatives, labor organizations, educational institutions, economic development agencies, and community-based organizations.
The bill reflects a number of the NTJN’s recommendations and principles for public workforce system that works for all – including expanding and allowing training funds for the use of transitional jobs programs; adjusting the performance accountability system to account for serving individuals with barriers to employment; maintaining the priority of service requirement giving access to WIA services for low-income individuals; and adopting a definition of “individual with barriers to employment.”
House Republicans are expected to introduce a bill aimed at reauthorizing WIA soon. The NTJN sent a letter in support of H.R. 798. We will continue to monitor and weigh-in on WIA reauthorization efforts.
By Melissa Young, Associate Director, NTJN
Last week, President Obama put forward an ambitious vision for his second Presidential term in his State of the Union address, including six good ideas to fight unemployment, grow good jobs at home, and ensure that no one who works full time lives in poverty. Whether or not his vision will gain traction within the contentious ranks of our divided Congress over the course of the next four years remains to be seen. Meanwhile, in the coming months at the National Transitional Jobs Network, we’re poised to continue to fight for federal policies that get chronically unemployed Americans back to work.
Here are the six good ideas the President proposed last week:
1. Creating Pathways to Jobs For All Americans. The president put forward “an ambitious plan in his budget to support summer and year-round jobs for low-income youth and put the long-term unemployed and low-income adults back to work.” Read More…