Two Organizations Help a Young Man Move From Homeless to Career Path

Posted March 26, 2019
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Young person learning a trade in a manufacturing job

Con­struct­ing things has always come easy to Ian, age 24. Turn­ing this pas­sion into a pay­check, how­ev­er, hasn’t. I’d see build­ings and think, I could do that!’,” he recalls. But I was stuck work­ing temp jobs I wasn’t inter­est­ed in.”

Find­ing mean­ing­ful work wasn’t Ian’s only strug­gle. He was also home­less and liv­ing in Bal­ti­more City — a com­bi­na­tion shared by some 1,690 young adults annually. 

That was two years ago, before a pair of orga­ni­za­tions — Youth Empow­ered Soci­ety (YES) and JARC Bal­ti­more — helped Ian get back on his feet and con­nect­ed to a career in the build­ing and con­struc­tion industry.

YES runs the only drop-in cen­ter for home­less youth in Bal­ti­more City. The orga­ni­za­tion pro­vides basic neces­si­ties — includ­ing food, cloth­ing and per­son­al hygiene prod­ucts — as well as hous­ing and legal sup­port, men­tal health ser­vices and employ­ment resources. YES helped Ian find a sta­ble place to live and shared sev­er­al job oppor­tu­ni­ties that aligned with his interests.

One caught his eye: A 12-week weld­ing pro­gram offered by a local work­force devel­op­ment agency, JARC Bal­ti­more. YES and JARC—which both receive fund­ing from the Annie E. Casey Foundation—worked togeth­er to get Ian enrolled in the pro­gram and helped him devel­op a career plan.

Part of our process for sup­port­ing young peo­ple is to con­nect them with var­i­ous resources around the city,” says Nick Brooks, a work­force devel­op­ment coor­di­na­tor at YES. JARC has been an incred­i­ble part­ner in this work. Not only are they eager to learn about the ways we sup­port our youth, but they’ve also come to the table with a proven process for remov­ing the bar­ri­ers a per­son faces when search­ing for a career.”

When Ian was hes­i­tant to take time off work to com­plete his weld­ing train­ing, YES offered him a stipend to cov­er expens­es. That sup­port played a major role in his suc­cess, says Ian.

I could not have com­plet­ed my train­ing with­out the stipend,” he recalls. I would have been too tired work­ing extra hours at my part-time job.” After grad­u­at­ing from the pro­gram, Ian accept­ed a full-time posi­tion at a local con­struc­tion com­pa­ny, earn­ing a start­ing wage of $19 per hour with ben­e­fits. Today, his out­look on life is better—and his future looks decid­ed­ly brighter.

This process has opened a cre­ative side of my mind and giv­en me con­fi­dence and moti­va­tion,” Ian explains. I enjoy learn­ing and real­ly appre­ci­ate hav­ing a trade and a passion.”

Learn more about YES’s work to end youth homelessness

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