Youth Fellow From Southside Works Helps Connect Young People to Jobs
Southside Works is an Atlanta collaborative that helps local residents access job training and pursue new careers. Comprised of six Atlanta-based nonprofit organizations — Emmaus House, Per Scholas, STRIVE Atlanta, the Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency, the Amazing Stories Foundation and Gangstas to Growers — Southside Works recently selected Applette “Apple” Winfrey as its first-ever youth engagement fellow. A graduate of SUNY Potsdam and an Atlanta resident since 2018, Winfrey helps Southside Work’s partner organizations better understand and connect with young people searching for employment. The paid 10-month fellowship was supported, in part, by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
“As a young person, Apple brings a very important perspective to this work,” says Ade Oguntoye, a senior associate with the Casey Foundation’s Atlanta Civic Site — a long-time investor in Southside Works’ service area. “Not only is she incredibly passionate about community outreach, but she also has valuable insight into what’s important to young people right now and how to reach them.”
Connecting South Atlanta to Training and Jobs
Winfrey’s fellowship duties include:
- attending community meetings and speaking with residents;
- helping to develop special workforce and employment events; and
- creating local outreach campaigns using social media, email and fliers posted around neighborhoods.
Winfrey recently ensured young people in the Pittsburgh community attended a recent job fair at Pittsburgh Yards — a local hub for community residents and entrepreneurs nestled within the Atlanta BeltLine. The event allowed residents to learn about employment opportunities and job skills training available through Southside Works.
To generate interest in the job fair, Winfrey spearheaded marketing efforts to reach youth-friendly spaces like community and recreation centers. Through one-on-one conversations with residents, she found that some young people were unsure of how to find Pittsburgh Yards or worried that the job fair would have an expensive entry fee. She reassured them that not only was the event free, but it was also easy to access. “A lot of folks were surprised to discover that Pittsburgh Yards was right in their backyard,” says Winfrey.
“We saw just under 50 people attend and three were offered positions on the spot,” says Oguntoye. “We don’t typically see many job fairs in South Atlanta, and I was very impressed with how this event came together. That was all possible because of Apple’s dedicated outreach efforts.”
Given the success of the event, Southside Works hopes to offer more seasonal job fairs at Pittsburgh Yards.
Building Relationships Within a Community
Winfrey credits her background in political canvassing and campaign organizing with preparing her for the role.
“I was a little scared at first, but once I hit the streets and started building relationships within the community, that disappeared,” she says. “For any kind of community outreach, the best way you can get to know a neighborhood is just by spending time in it. I made sure to get to know the folks at the local churches, schools and grocery stores — the places people visit every day.”
Although Winfrey’s fellowship will conclude in December 2023, she’s already thinking about the future. “Over the past year, I’ve realized that I love connecting people to job or training opportunities and getting involved with community meetings,” says Winfrey. “The fellowship has really inspired me to continue with that work and take on more professional development challenges myself. So not only do I get to help people grow, but I also keep growing, too.”