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December 1, 2014

The Urban League of San Diego County (ULSDC) has been empowering communities and changing lives throughout San Diego County for more than 60 years. Over time, ULSDC has built a strong reputation for connecting job seekers and employers, and it has even utilized SDWP research to create programs that train participants to be placed in in-demand jobs and industries.

ULSDC provides direct services to more than 7,000 people annually through programs, advocacy and research. Its programs and services include academic support services for youth, job searches, résumé writing, job counseling, case management, workshops, presentations, forums, speeches, telephone referrals, and literature distribution. 

ULSDC’s newest project is to provide case management services to youth at the Youth Re-Engagement Center, a collaboration with the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) and the San Diego Youth Development Office’s PATHWAYS initiative. SDWP leveraged WIA funding to support this two-year re-engagement pilot and procure the case management services. The Youth Re-Engagement Center is equipped to serve up to 150 in-school and 100 out-of-school youth ages 16-21 who are not connected (or insufficiently connected) to education, training and employment. Youth are being recruited from SDUSD, community-based organizations, churches and other community groups. Four case managers, known as “Opportunity Coaches,” will provide case management and intensive wrap-around services to support youth’s successful re-engagement and transition to education and occupational skills training. The Youth Re-Engagement Center is located at the South Metro Career Center.

Ray King, President and CEO at ULSDC, explains that the PATHWAYS Re-Engagement Team—which includes representatives from SDUSD, Harmonium, Somali Family Services, Union of Pan Asian Communities and Manpower—brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and resources together on a weekly basis at the South Metro Career Center to share caseloads, discuss ways to come together more effectively, and make recommendations to fix problems. Specifically, he says, the team members offer an unparalleled ability to deliver culturally and linguistically appropriate services to underserved, high-risk youth; strong networks and existing relationships with area high schools and adult education systems; a history of meeting the needs of youth and families; and an ability to leverage current programming aimed at reducing youth violence and gang engagement and supporting school and career success.

“This is a team of individuals who want to roll up their sleeves and do the work, not just talk the talk,” King says. “They really care about these students and have all built trust amongst this community in the past, which makes them the right team and the right fit for this challenge.”

In addition to workforce development services, the team is committed to cultivating the youth’s social development skills through a variety of methods, including motivational speakers and financial literacy workshops, giving them an opportunity to discover the long-term career and lifestyle they want as well as the skills they need to get there.

“These kids are not only going to find a way to get jobs, they’re getting a path and an action plan for going after careers that are going to be self-sustaining,” King says. “But it’s not just that, these kids are not just numbers. They’ll also be gaining another family member in their opportunity coaches and getting guidance from people who care about them and can steer them on a positive path.”

The Youth Re-Engagement Center is currently recruiting youth to participate. For more information, please contact Kea Hagan at 619-226-6265.

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