I’m Just Saying…..I attended the 3-day, May 7 – 9, Safety and Justice Challenge conference in Pittsburg where District Attorneys, Judges, Experts in the field of criminology and a number of others in the field of criminal justice touted statistics indicating that Crime and incarcerations in the U.S are down, and cities like Chicago were at their lowest in captivity rate since the early 1990’s. While I applaud the MacArthur Foundation’s support of the Challenge and the subsequent Marshall project’s “We are Witnesses” video series that was developed from the Challenge Network, I came away from the event unsatisfied with the knowledge that most of the people who attended did not truly GET IT!
The American criminal justice system currently consists of 2.2 million people behind bars and according to the Washington Post, the number of guns in the United States is now larger than the number of Americans! I walk the streets and ride public transportation in the City of Chicago and review the Hey Jackass website daily and I can report that crime in the City of Chicago is NOT going down. More importantly, the youth in Chicago are not being well served by the politics and inept schools that teach them to pass a standardized Test, but do little to prepare them for career paths that will take them out of their poverty and violence-filled conditions! That said, I am here to report that there is a unique group of public, private and non-profit organizations that are collaborating to change that dynamic.
When I got off the Amtrak train on May 9th, I rushed to have lunch with Karen Young and Billy Gardner (CEO and V.P of Community Outreach for WOZ U Education), Jeff Isaac and Griselda Reyes (Scout Executive/CEO and Development Director for the Boy Scouts of America Pathway to Adventure), and Xavier Hernandez and Tony Garritano (Principals at Berwyn Tech Entrepreneurship Center)! This meeting was a unique blend of Public, Private and Non-Profit entities who came away with a mission to identify, teach, train and establish programming to put our youth and young adults on direct paths to Tech-based careers that are in demand by business and government! Aside from writing the “I’m Just Saying” articles, my readers should know that I have been a Workforce Development Consultant for the past three decades placing over one thousand youth and young adults into entry-level and slightly higher paying low to mid-skilled jobs. Obviously, my excitement in being with this group of visionaries is our shared goal of empowering our young people with the aptitude, attitude and ability to successfully travel the path to secure Technology based careers. The following is a quick synopsis of each organization and should give insight into what each entity brings to the table:
Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple launched WOZ U in October of 2017 and the adult programs are campus based in Scottsdale, Arizona and online throughout the United States. The programs (Software Developer, Cyber Security, and Data Science) offer a direct path to tech-based careers that are in demand by business and government. WOZ U EDUCATION provides Kindergarten thru 12th-grade career pathways: STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) programs that are designed to lead to success in WOZ U technology and career-based programs. The training is outcome based (Job Placement Driven) as exampled by Forest Carlton, a WOZ U student who graduated two days after my luncheon and who was sleeping in his van with his dog and too proud to ask for help six weeks before he completed. Check out the link and see why I am thrilled that WOZ U Education is coming to Chicago ……https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvZU41cFJRo……!
Berwyn Tech Entrepreneurialship Center located on Cermak and Oak Park Blvd in Berwyn, Il. provides hands-on technology education for economically disadvantaged youth with a focus on entrepreneurship and economic empowerment. Beginning summer of 2018, WOZ U Education and Berwyn Tech (B-Tech) will commence a deployment plan locally in Chicago to form and structure partnership networks to advance their educational platforms. B-Tech’s business consultants have already begun conversations with K – 8 and area high schools to roll out packages looking to infuse STEAM learning into current classes being offered by CPS and Alternative schools! The mission of WOZ U Education thru B-Tech will be to provide technology education for life to youth and young adults in Chicago and the surrounding Chicagoland areas. Through education and training with internship and entrepreneurial opportunities, this collaboration will benefit individuals and families with competitive salaries and sustainable career opportunities.
The Boys Scouts of America Restoring the Village Program is an impactful partnership between Scouting, community leaders and at-risk youth. It equips young people in embattled neighborhoods with the values, tools, opportunities, and mentors needed to build better and brighter futures for individuals, families, and communities. The program was inspired because many promising youth in our communities are in harm’s way. They are up against a slew of difficult circumstances: poverty, violence, crime, gang activity, and wavering parental involvement. And through no fault of their own, their chances of becoming productive and thriving members of society are greatly diminished. BSA’s mission to intervene at an early age before a young person starts down the wrong path is synergistically perfect for what Full STEAM Ahead is all about! Teaching and training our young people in Technology and Entrepreneurship at an early age is paramount to the overall success of the collaboration and partnerships.
By James Cannon
Featured Image Courtesy of U.S. Pacific Fleet’s Flick Page – Creatvive Commons License