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Greater DC Cares: Building Pathways to Youth Employment

by Paul Monteiro

This post originally appeared on the White House blog on November 29th, 2011.

As one of the coordinators of the White House Mentorship Program I was moved by HandsOn Greater DC Cares' new initiative to encourage for-profit corporations to provide mentoring opportunities for under-served youth in the Greater D.C. Community. The organization demonstrates the importance of bringing public and private sectors to together to better serve our communities.

In the words of Billy Fettweis the Director of Volunteer Services for HandsOn Greater DC Cares:

Over the past several years, the economic downturn has challenged DC area families, including thousands of veterans returning from combat. Leveraging the self-less work of 43,000 community volunteers HGDCC has created meal distribution and preparation, job search consultation, the emergency housing facilities programs. Among these initiatives there are:

  • Mentorship: DC area students seeking a mentor currently sit on a 2-year waiting list. Working closely with corporate partners, HGDCC convenes 35 nonprofit organizations engaged in mentoring to build their capacity, raise awareness for the impact of mentoring on education outcomes, and recruit enough mentors to enable these programs to grow. Through building nonprofit capacity and recruiting 500 mentors annually, we work to ensure that every child at risk of not attending college and achieving their full potential will be matched with a caring adult mentor.
  • Skills-Based Volunteering:Harnessing the talent of area corporations and highly-skilled professionals, HandsOn Greater DC Cares dramatically increases the impact of nonprofit partners through strategic planning, graphic design, website development, financial management strategies, and more. We also placed skilled corporate and individual job coaches with people seeking employment to improve job search and workplace readiness skills.
  • Board Leadership: Annually, HandsOn Greater DC Cares trains 250+ executives in the basics of effective board leadership, including governance, finance, fundraising, and law. These executives then have the opportunity to go through an individualized matching process where they can be placed onto the board of directors of a local nonprofit.
  • Neighborhood Engagement: HGDCC identified 5 fragile DC communities, where we work closely with community stakeholders to identify priorities and brainstorm with residents strategies to address unmet needs. With support from AmeriCorps VISTAs, community residents have started GED classes for adults, health fairs, beautification projects, after school programs, and much more to address the challenges that they see developing in their communities.

To learn more about this program or any of our services, please visit http://www.greaterdccares.org/ or follow us on twitter @greaterdccares.

Paul Monteiro is an Associate Director at the Office of Public Engagement.

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