So far 2013 has been a banner year for our construction training program, Project JumpStart. In just six short months we’ve marked some pretty significant milestones including the expansion of JumpStart to Baltimore’s west side, a graduation celebration for of our 20th class, and a new partnership with developers and the University of Maryland BioPark.
These achievements are huge feats for our seven-year-old program, which is designed to move Baltimore residents out of poverty and into high-wage jobs in the construction trades. Many of the people who come to our program are looking for a route out of low-skill, low-wage employment so they can support their families and be contributing members of our city society.
We’re always proud of our students, but our pride has been amplified this year by generous support from our partners, educators and the many, many folks who donated to JumpStart. In just a few short months our supporters have helped us raise nearly $5,000 through our first-ever online giving campaign.
In honor of Father’s Day, the Job Opportunities Task Force recently sat down with Joseph T. Jones, Jr. president, founder and CEO, for the Center for Urban Families. JOTF works with CFUF to place Baltimore residents in Project JumpStart, our construction training program.
Last week, the Baltimore City Council unanimously passed Council President Young’s bill to promote local hiring. The measure, which the mayor declined to sign, will take effect in December. It creates a standard by which some contractors will be required to hire city residents. Specifically, developers of projects that receive city contracts valued at $300,000 or more, or subsidies of $5 million or above, must fill 51 percent of the jobs created by those ventures with Baltimore City residents.
The vote was the culmination of a long battle over the bill’s promise and potential weaknesses. It’s not perfect. The legislation will apply to relatively few projects and waivers are available that could further reduce its impact. Still, it is important step toward linking the goals behind large-scale publicly funded projects and the need to get our residents working. Right now, Baltimore has the fourth highest unemployment rate in the state, with more than 26,000 residents unemployed, and of the city’s unemployment insurance claims, 9.1 percent of those people work in construction.