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JOTF Blog
By JOTF on 8/6/2013
by Andrea Roethke

In just a few months the current General Educational Development tests will expire and be replaced with new exams. The 2014 GED test will be aligned with the Common Core standards that are now required in K-12 school systems across the country, and many in the field expect that the tests will become more rigorous. The test, which has traditionally been offered via paper and pencil, will also shift to being offered only by computer.

Since we first blogged about the issue last year, a lot of progress has been made toward answering key questions about the changes and plotting the course for providers working in the field. First, after the GED Testing Service announced that they would be raising the cost of the test to $120, many feared that low-income students would be priced out. To address the issue, the Maryland General Assembly approved funding to subsidize the cost for Maryland test-takers at the current rate of $45. As long as the subsidy remains in place, it will go a long way toward preserving accessibility of the GED test.

By JOTF on 6/28/2013
by Sarah Breitenbach

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.

By JOTF on 6/14/2013
by Sarah Breitenbach

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.

 

CFUF works with Baltimore fathers to strengthen urban communities by helping them reach stability and economic success. The organization recruits directly off Baltimore streets and works to ensure their clients are connected to opportunities for housing, employment and parenting resources.
By JOTF on 6/10/2013
by Jason Perkins-Cohen

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.

By JOTF on 5/16/2013
by Melissa Broome

As communities, businesses, government and health care organizations celebrate and promote National Women’s Health Week, I can’t help but think of the women who struggle daily to care for themselves without access to paid sick leave.

The first step women are urged to take as a part of Women’s Health Week is to “Visit a health care professional to receive regular checkups and preventive screenings.”

Sounds simple, right? If we value women and their health, then naturally we expect them to take the time each year to visit a cadre of doctor’s for their checkups. Unfortunately, this modest goal is unattainable for countless American women.  

By JOTF on 5/2/2013

by Caryn York
A new law championed by JOTF is giving some Marylanders a renewed shot at employment. Gov. Martin O’Malley signed the state’s “Ban the Box” legislation on May 2, making Maryland the ninth state to eliminate a requirement that prospective employees check a box on job applications to indicate whether they have ever been arrested or convicted of a crime. 

 

After four long years of urging Maryland lawmakers to remove the “box,” the victory is a welcome accomplishment. Today, more than one in four adults – roughly 65 million Americans – have some sort of criminal record. In Maryland, this means nearly 1 million adults face discriminatory barriers, such as the arrest/conviction question on state job applications, to securing stable employment. 

By JOTF on 4/30/2013
by Andrea Roethke

Imagine a Baltimore where every resident who wants a job has the skills to go get one. Imagine a workforce system where there are no dead-end jobs; just entry-level jobs that mark the first step on a career ladder. Imagine a community where nonprofits, government agencies, and employers are seamlessly aligned to connect residents to services to jobs.


Making this vision a reality is no small task, but every year we make strides in the right direction. Two years ago, the Baltimore Integration Partnership (BIP) was formed with the goal of connecting residents to economic opportunity and revitalizing underserved neighborhoods. Since then, the collaborative of public, private, and nonprofit leaders have worked together to make investments in both human and physical capital, while at the same time advancing policy and systems change.

By JOTF on 4/16/2013
by Melissa Broome

There’s a well-known understanding in our state capitol that important bills rarely – if ever – pass in the first year. I recognize that last month’s unfavorable outcome for the Earned Sick and Safe Leave Act was probably inevitable no matter what we had done. And yet, I’m still deeply disturbed by what this decision means for so many of our hardworking neighbo
By JOTF on 2/1/2013

Legislation filed this week would create a standard to assure that workers in our state could earn up to seven days of paid sick time each year.

 

The Earned Sick and Safe Time Act, cross-filed by Sen. Robert J. Garagiola (D-Montgomery) and Delegate John A. Olszewski, Jr. (D-Baltimore County), would enable workers to earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours they work.

 

More than 700,000 people in Maryland cannot earn paid sick days from their employers. Many of these employees are low-wage workers who already face significant financial hurdles and worry that taking a day off work could mean they are unable to feed their children or pay their rent.

 

By JOTF on 1/7/2013

by Sarah Breitenbach

 

With the New Year comes cause for JOTF to celebrate. We are happy to announce, that for the first time, a developer is financing seats in our Project JumpStart construction training program.

 

Through a new partnership, the Maryland Proton Treatment Center Development Team (Advanced Particle Therapy, Signet Enterprises and Haskell) and the University of Maryland BioPark have graciously sponsored four seats in JumpStart’s 20th class, which begins Jan. 7 in east Baltimore.  

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