Sunday, September 16, 2012

So very happy today after getting an email from one of the HOPE Project graduates, Alyssia Suarez interview Saturday with a government contractor in Herndon VA.  She was hired on the spot!  She starts in a couple weeks.  What makes her story so great is that she is about to start a job that pays $42,000 a year and she is only 22.  What makes her story so amazing is that this time last year she was unemployed and without many options.  Alyssia currently works for a Dept. of Defense Contractor in Northern Virginia on the help desk.  The HOPE Project program continues to amaze.  Visit the website to read more success stories. www.hopeprojectdc.org

Monday, September 10, 2012

Stop saying there are no JOBS!!

I continue to hear people all over the DC area complaining that there are no jobs, it's simply not true.  There are PLENTY of jobs for people with in demand skills.  For example just last week during the first day of the Fall HOPE Project training program I got a request from IT recruiter Brandon Berlinrut of Veredus a staffing agency for HP Enterprise Services.  Brandon stopped by the class to recruit our new HOPE Project students for several help desk/call center positions.  Yes you heard me, Brandon has several positions available.  What we are dealing with in the DMV is a skills gap the chronically unemployed and young adults simply don't have the required skill to compete with the highly educated and highly skilled workers in DC.  So when we see the August Jobs report article on Bloomberg describe the shortage of skilled workers I simply laugh because we've been talking about it for years now. Check out this interesting BET News article about the HOPE Project program, click here.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Celebrating HOPE Project graduates on News Channel 8

Wanted to share the my most recent interview.  Bruce Depuyt of News Channel 8 wanted us to come on and talk about the HOPE Project success.  I used this time to celebrate the success of the graduates and showcase how the HOPE Project graduates have succeeded when other young people including college graduates are struggling.  The HOPE graduates have an average salary equal to college graduates, $35,000 a year.  We also introduced the HOPE Project campaign to train 1,000 young people with skills that lead directly to a job and career.  I decided not to spend my interview criticizing the DC City Council or mayor for their lack of ideas to improve the unemployment of young people.  Sadly I introduced the HOPE Project recently to a council member and my introduction included an employment report of the previous 2 years success, offer letters from dozens of students they are now working on major federal government contracts, I talked about how we have IT recruiters and government contractors emailing and calling me regularly looking for talent. The council members response was...  "So what can I do to help"  Sad, Sad, Sad.  I just gave him a blueprint to help hundreds of unemployed people and his response is "What can I do to help"  and people wonder why things are so bad in DC for certain groups of people.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Why having a felony isn't whats keeping felons from getting hired

As a workforce development expert, I am constantly asked what can be done to get returning citizens into the workforce.  The answer is very simple.  "They need in demand skills just like the rest of us."  90% of the returning citizens that I speak with would have a hard time finding a job if they didn't have any background issues, the truth is they are just not qualified. The solution is in comprehensive workforce development model after one of the most successful job training program in the country, the HOPE Project (www.hopepeojectdc.org)  The HOPE Project graduates with background issues are landing positions with great success.  One of the programs most successful graduates is Segfried Smith a 2011 graduates currently enrolled in a CISCO certification program at Prince Georges Community College and a employee of Barrister Global Service Network.  So before we begin to point the finger at employers we should make sure we have done everything possible to prepare our returning citizens for today's high skilled workforce.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Rallies are cool but its time for some action!

I have watched the country debate the Trayvon Martin murder for nearly a month now, and I have yet to hear anyone call for action to address the needs of young black boys like Trayvon.  There are thousands of young black boys that drop out of school each year yet we NEVER TAKE ACTION.  Every year thousands of young black boys are killed by other young black boys, yet we NEVER TAKE ACTION.  The rate of HIV/AIDS in the nations capital is at epidemic proportions, yet we NEVER TAKE ACTION. Many outsiders are watching the black community hold countless rallies and demonstrations for the murder of a young boy at the hands of a white man and many are probably saying why aren't they rallying for other ills in the black community.  I am inspired by the show of support for young Trayvon, and I'm 100% behind the effort to bring Mr. Zimmerman to justice.  We have to be careful with demonstrating today and turning our backs tomorrow on the thousands of young black boys that need our help. Can you imagine how other young black boys are feeling right now knowing that they have lost brothers, cousins, uncles and friends to violence and the killer was never brought to justice.  They are probably saying "what makes Trayvon's life more valuable than the life of my friend or relative, why haven't they rallied for the killer of my people to be brought to justice."  I'm asking 1000 black men and boys to meet me at a location in April, to create an ACTION PLAN to save a generation of young black boys.  I'm working on a location, when it's announced don't meet me there beat me there.  BRING YOUR IDEAS AND YOUR ENERGY!   The H.O.P.E. Project program was ONLY the beginning of this movement, it's time to take it to the NEXT LEVEL, IT'S TIME FOR SOME ACTION!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

DC Dept. of Employment Services Training Dollars Cut

In the Washington metropolitan area there are so many employment opportunities, in areas such as IT, healthcare, and education.  Great example of how bad things have become is the recent decision by the DC Department of Employment Services, DOES to cut the amount an individual can receive to attend an approved training provider, from $8,000 to ONLY $4,000.  It is virtually impossible to learn a skill to compete with DC's highly educated and skilled workforce on 4 grand.  That's DC's idea - to simply cut the training dollars for Dc residents.

Friday, February 3, 2012


The H.O.P.E. Project, aka the "Harvard of the Hood" addresses high unemployment in Washington, DC offering a technology training program to residents of the poorest Ward in the city. Over 150 young people attended the information session and town hall on jobs that followed. This very unique unfunded IT training program prepares socially and economically disadvantaged young adults for help desk careers with an average student starting salary of $37,500. Several students have accepted offers of $40,000 per year or more. The highest student starting salary is $47,500 per year.

The jobless rate in the poorest part of the District of Columbia is higher than in any U.S. metropolitan area with a labor-force of comparable size, according to figures released by the city government.

Unemployment in the district’s Ward 8 climbed to 28.2 percent in June 2011. Ward 8 now has a bright light called the H.O.P.E. Project. The program is turning Ward 8 residents from TANF recipients into $40,000 a year help desk analysts.

This ground breaking program has existed for three years without any federal, city or corporate funding. The program is 100 percent volunteer. Although a volunteer program, the H.O.P.E. Project has produced success rates unmatched in the Washington metropolitan area. The H.O.P.E. Project’s brand is so popular that the program holds just two information sessions a year to fill 16 slots. This year’s information sessions drew 209 young adults. The information sessions were held at the 7th District Police Station and Matthew Memorial Baptist Church.

The program is the recruiting ground for many of the top information technology staffing companies in the Washington, DC area and firms from Florida and Texas have partnered with the H.O.P.E. Project. Additionally, several technology firms have recruited and hired H.O.P.E. Project students, including Competitive Innovations, MIL Corporation, MMC Group, RCG Inc. and Battelle. Competitive Innovations donated SharePoint training vouchers and exam manuals. The program boasts an amazing record of 100 percent pass rate for the CompTIA A+ exam. Several students have earned multiple certifications since graduating.

In December 2011, four students interviewed with MIL Corporation to fill several Customer Support Analyst positions. All four students were offered positions. They are currently going through the clearance process. The program has become so popular because of the success of the participants one student relocated from Greensboro, North Carolina after hearing about the program.

The H.O.P.E. Project is in partnership with Share Tech Solutions, an HUB Zone information technology company, to staff and manage their 24/7 helpdesk and call center operation. The Share Tech Solutions partnership will give new students the opportunity to earn income and gain valuable helpdesk experience right away.

The 2012 H.O.P.E. Project class has set several program records, including the fastest class to have a student land a help desk position and the most students from a single class to accept an information technology position before graduation. To date, 14 students have accepted offers of employment. The class currently has 18 students, only 2 were employed when the program started.

The H.O.P.E. Project class meets Tuesday and Thursday evenings and one Saturday each month. The program is a 9 month commitment. The program has very strict attendance policies. Several students have perfect attendance and no student has missed more than 3 days since the program began in September 2011. The 2012 class graduates in June. The 18 students are expected to graduate with their CompTIA A+ certification and be employed as a help desk professional.

The H.O.P.E. is an information technology career training program that prepares socially and economically disadvantaged young people for rewarding careers as help desk professionals. Visit the website www.hopeprojectdc.org.