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Program Takes Aim At Unemployment In Park Heights

A new program aims to address the soaring unemployment in the Park Heights area of Baltimore City. The New Park Heights Community Development Corp. Inc. is partnering with Sojourner-Douglass College to offer a workforce training program in the fall.
Workforce training will help the transitional neighborhood progress. The area has seen a number of new services and  investments in new buildings and a new affordable housing program

Will J. Hanna II, president and CEO of the nonprofit, says a fundraising campaign is underway to raise $1.9 million over the three-year period of the agreement with the Baltimore college to train a total of 835 people in the Park Heights community.
That financial figure breaks down to $635,000 per year of the agreement. To date, Hanna has raised $95,000 through private donors and grants for 2012. But he says that more grants are coming online soon and that he expects to meet that goal. He also expects to make a "major announcement" in August and for the program to kick off as scheduled in October. Some details of the program have yet to be decided.
Hanna says that a nonprofit-commissioned study found that while the national unemployment rate averages 8.2 percent, unemployment in Park Heights is close to 30 percent. Residents were undereducated and/or underskilled, or the skills they had didn’t fit today’s marketplace.
The program is geared toward practical skills like construction, electrical, EMT technician, EKG technician and patient care, among others. There will also be classes for people to obtain a high school equivalency certificate, or GED. Entrepreneurship training will be offered as well, with the possibility of opening an incubator to encourage commercialization of products.
Hanna says Sojourner-Douglass College was chosen because it has a training program in those fields and it has worked in Park Heights before.
“We felt it was important to reach out to an African-American college [for the program]. It was a natural fit for what we wanted to do,” Hanna says. "The idea is, once people complete the training, they can be gainfully employed."
Source: Will J. Hanna, The New Park Heights Community Development Corp.
Writer: Barbara Pash
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