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Job Creation


“The fact is, we cannot serve people out of poverty, no matter how much we might want to…So, how will we move the poverty needle? Profitable business creation.” – Charity Detox.

Non-profit jobs programs require additional funding to provide under-resourced folks with paid work and education/training.

Childcare and transportation are two of the biggest barriers to folks getting and/or holding a job.

Opportunity is needed in low income neighborhoods, if there is no opportunity then there is no ambition.

In January, the U.S. unemployment rate for black Americans was 6.8%, the lowest level since 1972 when the government began tracking that data. However, the unemployment rate for African-Americans in IL was 10%, the highest of any state and more than 40% of 20-24-year-old black males in Chicago were out of work & out of school.

Criteria Fit: A properly selected jobs project could certainly fit all our criteria (proper scale, multifaceted, good fit for our congregation, attractive to our community, measurable outcomes, transformative)

Sample ideas:

Either partnering with an existing organization or beginning a new program (after building the relevant relationships) we could launch an employment and mentoring program specifically aimed at a target population (e.g. people formerly incarcerated, young people at-risk of gang involvement, girls who drop out of school). This could either be focused on existing job possibilities or entrepreneurship, or both.

In addition to an employment program, the “…ability to provide both jobs and free support programs in one location vastly increases the likelihood of a client taking advantage of all services offered, and completing the program successfully” – Homeboy Industries (services include education, therapy, trauma recovery, tattoo removal, substance abuse treatment, legal help, and childcare).

Some nonprofits picked up work that had gone overseas. There is opportunity in the trades: plumbers, truck drivers, construction workers, forklift drivers, etc. Culinary programs? Recycling programs? Urban farms? Silk screen printing?


Falling for the myth that people don’t want to work: “All people were created with a desire to be useful.” Charity Detox

Believing charity is the only way to make a difference. Creating opportunity through employment is a blessing.

Believing we know the solutions. “Go as a learner, not as a server. Charity DetoxWe have just as much to learn as the folks we interact with.

Misidentifying the goal. We must be outcome focused, not output focused, measuring our success not by hours spent but by change in employment numbers.

Possible impacts: Carefully developing the scale of our work would be important, but the payoff could be great.

Following sample idea 1) above – I. C. Stars provides a technology-based workforce development training program for low-income adults.The initial placement rate for graduates is 90%, the industry retention rate is 81%. The average 12-month earnings before the program is $10,790, while the average 12-month earnings after the program is $44,010.

Following sample idea 2) above –Homeboy Industries has helped 80,000 gang at-risk people find employment, focusing on both jobs and personal/social development.

Following sample idea 3) above –RecycleForce is a social enterprise offering innovative recycling services while providing life-changing workforce training to nearly 1200 formerly incarcerated men and women since 2006. 

Connections with other areas/issues:

Healthcare, stable housing and social services are needed in addition to employment: “A decent job with the potential for advancement and adequate benefits is essential if a family is ever going to escape poverty” – Charity Detox.

“Nothing Stops a Bullet Like a Job” – Fr. Greg Boyle, Homeboy Industries

A quality education leads to much better job prospects.

Huge % of the unemployed had contact with the justice system & convictions are a big barrier to employment.

Recidivism rate in Illinois after 3 years is 55%, but with employment this number drops dramatically.

Lack of education and lack of employment opportunity are major drivers of crime and thus incarceration.

Many people in prison suffer from mental health issues due to stress and trauma from generational poverty.

Criminal justice reform is a jobs issue. Improving how society treats the formerly incarcerated is a jobs issue.