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A Year of Promise

By Rev. Stephen E. Tucker

One word: Promise.

As the JOBS Coalition looks forward to 2015, we remain rooted in our core goal of increasing employment opportunities for the residents of the District of Columbia through workforce development. This is a promise we made from our beginnings, and one that we remain committed to in this new year.

We must work together to create a strong labor force, one in which every man, woman and young adult – from the student preparing to graduate from high school to the formerly incarcerated citizen returning home after serving time – is given the chance to succeed.

However, our work will not be without its share of challenges. The District is ushering in new members of the D.C. Council alongside a new mayor, Muriel Bowser. During her recent inaugural address, she proclaimed it’s a “new day” in the nation’s capital. We hope that as Bowser strives to give every family a “fresh start,” she and her administration remain committed to workforce development being part of their plans.

Furthermore, we intend to meet with as many incoming Council members this year as possible, including David Grosso (I-At Large), chair of the Committee on Education. We will be hosting a “Meet and Greet” with these lawmakers to articulate our goals. We also look forward to building a relationship with the D.C. Workforce Investment Council and its associate director, Andrew Rogers.

The JOBS Coalition will also remain steadfast in helping ex-offenders transition successfully back into their communities. The city lost two advocates for returning citizens with the recent passing of D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) and Hal Williams, with the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. We are awaiting the filling of these positions so that we can continue our work to remove barriers for the hardest to employ.

And with redevelopment across the city, we hope to be included in the Wharf project to revitalize the Southwest waterfront. It will offer yet another opportunity for workforce training and employment for our residents.

So as 2015 gets under way, the JOBS Coalition renews its commitment to workforce development. It continues to be a cornerstone of our promise to the underserved, unemployed and returning ex-offenders to build opportunities for success.

But to accomplish this goal means strengthening and developing new relationships with like-minded organizations. The hospitality and retail industries are among those the JOBS Coalition will reach out to this year to support our ongoing relationship with construction industry partners like Miller & Long Concrete Construction and Associated Builders & Contractors. Building these coalitions will broaden our advocacy efforts by connecting job seekers that are pursuing nonconstruction opportunities with employers. Together, we can help ready residents for employment through education, training and hiring outreach.