Since November, Wood and ECGRA board members have been studying several national community development and anti-poverty best practices, including Purpose Built Communities (www.purposebuiltcommunities.org), Manchester Bidwell Corporation (www.manchesterbidell.org), and the Center for Community Progress (www.communityprogress.net). ECGRA used the research in late April to establish a pilot project with The Corry Community Foundation that is combatting blight and bolstering economic resilience in Corry. Today, they used that research to fund J.A.M.
ECGRA executive director Perry Wood said, “J.A.M. is by no means the only answer to solving Erie County’s poverty dilemma, but it is an opportunity to change the life trajectory of 100 teens that are economically disadvantaged.”
ECGRA leaders believe J.A.M., with proper structure and oversight, can achieve desired outcomes for Erie County’s underprivileged youths and steer them to college and careers with sustaining wages.
Venango Training and Development Center, Inc. (VTDC) will administer J.A.M. VTDC—previously approved by the Erie Summer Jobs Task Force, The Erie Community Foundation, and Erie County Council—presented ECGRA board members today with its plans to train and match youth applicants with local employers.
Wood, “VTDC has the infrastructure, staffing, and partners to get this pilot project off the ground. If given the proper chance to evolve and with the community’s support, J.A.M. can be one component of an ecosystem that fosters healthy, future-oriented youth from birth to college.”
As it does with all grantees, ECGRA will require VTDC to measure and report J.A.M. outcomes.
“Although this is a pilot project, we still hold Venango Training and Development Center to the same stringent guidelines that we hold all of our grantees to—we must know exactly how every dollar was spent. We hold ourselves to that kind of transparency and expect it from each organization we fund,” said Wood.
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