From The Editors
What do we do about the youth population that not a decade and a half from now but in the next couple of years will face the world as adults, seeking employment, education, something more than a puncher's chance at a good life?
A few weeks back, we wrote about the importance of laying the foundation for education at an early age. That discussion surrounded high-quality Pre-K education in Pennsylvania and how it serves as the cornerstone upon which we can invest today for a bright future in the years to come.
But immediate challenges still lie in front of us. What do we do about the youth population that not a decade and a half from now but in the next couple of years will face the world as adults, seeking employment, education, something more than a puncher's chance at a good life?
A few months back, there was a community march. Co-led by Gary Horton, director of the Urban Erie Community Development Corp., and Bishop Dwane Brock, leader of the Victory Christian Center, 125 people took to the streets and headed to the Erie Community Foundation to seek financial support for a summer jobs program in Erie County.
A summer jobs program geared toward an adolescent population -- community leaders hope -- will curtail the rise in crime and violence plaguing our region. As we know, "Poverty" remains an ever-present headline. And as more employers continue to look for prospective employees with job experience already under their belts, getting even an entry-level job without that prior experience is becoming virtually impossible.
That is, invest now in our youth-about-to-become-adults, and see results now -- because when these minors enter the workforce as adults in a few years, they enter with a stronger, more developed resume, and they stand a better chance at continual employment. Which suggests that with a decrease in the unemployment rates, a decrease in crime, violence, and poverty will follow.
In this issue, you'll find Jim Wertz's feature on the Erie Summer Jobs Program -- the details of that march, the work the Erie Community Foundation is doing, and what these means for our region moving forward in the next few months.
As of June 13, over 160 applications have been received to Erie Summer JAM (Jobs And More). Before these applicants begin employment with various institutions come the official start date of July 1, they will have completed 20 hours of soft-skills training at the Venango Training and Development Center. Then, they'll begin entering the workforce.
In Jim's feature, Horton told him that, "There's no better time than the present to show unity and solidarity." And he's right. Without strong building blocks now -- in the present -- our future doesn't stand a chance.
Let's hope that come the end of August, unity and solidarity amongst the community -- not just a segment of our community, but the whole community -- will triumph over despair and disconnect.