By Caitlin C. Schnur, Coordinator, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity
Angelica Ross, the founder of TransTech in Chicago, calls herself an accidental advocate. “I got into this work as an advocate for myself,” explains Miss Ross, a transwoman of color whose year-old social enterprise prepares trans people for careers in creative design and technology. “When I was younger, I was really just trying to get by and work a job. None of the LGBTQ organizations that were focused on marriage were advocating for what I needed—safe and stable employment opportunities.”
While the transgender movement may have reached a tipping point, there’s still a lot of work to be done around advancing employment and economic opportunity for the trans community. According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, trans people experience twice the rate of unemployment and are nearly four times more likely to live in extreme poverty than the general population. By empowering, educating, and employing trans people—and especially trans youth—TransTech addresses these issues head on. For LGBT Pride Month, National Initiatives chatted with Miss Ross about her vision for TransTech, why social capital is key to economic empowerment, and employment as restorative justice.
By David T. Applegate, Research and Policy Assistant, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity
and Caitlin C. Schnur, Coordinator, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity
It’s the height of the holiday season, and we’re excited to release our second annual social enterprise holiday shopping guide! As we did last year, we once again encourage you to give gifts that give back by shopping at social enterprises that help chronically unemployed Americans get back to work. We believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to work and support themselves and their families—and so do the social enterprises featured in this shopping guide. While these innovative and diverse social enterprises sell products ranging from gourmet pet treats to original works of art to urban honey (we guarantee you can find something for everyone with this list!), they all use their sales revenue to fund their job training programs for people with barriers to employment. Take a look, share this list with friends, and find fabulous gifts while helping to open doors to work this holiday season!
By Caitlin C. Schnur, Workforce Research and Policy Fellow, NTJN
In honor of Mother’s Day, the National Transitional Jobs Network (NTJN) recently caught up with Bright Endeavors, a social enterprise that’s hard at work selling first-rate candles and bath products and changing young mothers’ lives. Bright Endeavors is a part of New Moms, Inc., a Chicago-based social service agency that helps adolescent mothers experiencing or at risk of homelessness move toward economic independence. Employment is an essential part of this formula.
Through transitional jobs at Bright Endeavors, young women develop critical skills such as teamwork, leadership, and conflict management while working for a real business that is supported by sales revenue. John Guido, Bright Endeavors’ Manager of Sales and Business Development, agrees that offering employment training in a social enterprise setting raises the stakes for staff and participants, but he’s confident Bright Endeavors’ young moms are on-track to succeed. “Our participants continually amaze all of us at Bright Endeavors,” says John. “The steps they’re taking to improve their futures speak to the strength of the human spirit.” Read on to learn more about this mom-friendly (and eco-friendly!) social enterprise that’s dedicated to transforming the lives of at-risk young women and their children.
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