Happy New Year everyone and thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter. Because of your support, we had an awesome year in 2013 and are really excited about the plans for 2014. Because of your support 1,726 unique individuals were provided an Internet access site and assistance in applying for public assistance and jobs online. Because of your support we were able to provide 79 former juvenile offenders the opportunity at a computer technician’s training program and jobs. These young adults earned a total of 19 industry standard computer certifications; 5 diploma’s and/or GED’s; and 26 students were placed into employment. Also, we were able to provide the STEM Corps High School Program to 63 high school aged youth. These youth earned 24 industry standard computer certifications and completed a total of 8 technology projects for non-profit organizations. Truly, it was a successful year.
Community support played a huge role in this. We had many corporate supporters that we’ve highlighted through-out the year. Late in the year, Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union gave us another tremendous boost by awarding a $15,000 grant to continue the STEM Corps High School Program. Suncoast has consistently assisted this program and our community at large, and we really appreciate their support and generosity.
One final note about an exciting event coming up. We will be co-hosting the Teen Business Challenge on the week-end of February 21st through 23rd. Sponsored by Bank of America and Nielsen, we are co-hosting with Teen Business Challenge and 100 Black Men of Tampa Bay. Twenty (20) youth are currently being selected to compete using their entrepreneurial skills. We also want to thank George Tinsley and Penco, Inc (includes TGIFriday’s at Tampa International Airport) for providing the food and refreshments for the youth and volunteers for the week-end. Please plan to attend the “Shark Tank” like pitch competition featuring County Commissioner Lesley “Les” Miller as one of the judges along with Mr. Tinsley.
STUDENT SUCCESS: CELEBRATING TRIUMPHS THROUGH TRIALS
Meet Kushamaal Johnson-Franklin
As we greet 2014, we think of a remarkable member of the Computer Mentors Group Inc. student family who has exhibited strength and perseverance in the midst of a stormy and tragic 2013 year end. Thanksgiving and Christmas were difficult and life changing for Kushamaal Johnson-Franklin, a new CMG student. His mother was in a serious car accident in November and has been hospitalized since. Thanksgiving is just not the same when you are worrying about your mother as she lay in a hospital bed.
Then in December on the day he provided information for this article, Kushamaal was given news that his father had died earlier that day in New York.
With all of this going on in his life, Kushamaal shared his dreams and aspirations with a degree of composure and clear headedness even seasoned adults would have found hard to do.
Back in September when Kushamaal heard that Mr. Smith was conducting interviews at Middleton High School, he attended, asked questions and was impressed with the multitude of benefits the program offers. He was especially interested in the certifications he would be able to earn. These certifications would move him closer to working in the medical field, as does several members of his family. His grandmother is a retired nurse. His cousin is a surgeon and his older sister is a part of a surgical team. Kushamaal wants to have a career involving computers which support heart regulating power cord x-ray processes.
He credits his pastor who encourages him to stay strong and to focus on the good side of life. This kind of support has helped him avoid feeling stressful and sad and having thoughts of giving up. He knows his mother is going to get better.
He is most proud of his ROTC service and Tech Sargent rank. He joined ROTC to learn about the air force. He wanted to learn what soldiers go through. By volunteering at the VA hospital, he heard survival stories; he learned to appreciate his “right to learn and be free”, and he learned valuable life and leadership skills.
He loves community service and truly enjoyed his work feeding homeless, giving bikes to children, building playgrounds for children and helping needy families.
All of this strength, wisdom and drive come from a Middleton High School 10th grader who already knows he wants to attend University of Michigan or State University in New Orleans. They, according to his research, have the best medical technology programs.
We continue to attempt to support Kushamaal through this trying time, but are certainly learning from him about courage and dedication in the face of adversary. Your prayers for Kushamaal are welcomed and solicited.
HOW YOU CAN HELP?
As 2014 begins, we have one more year of our Civic Justice Corps grant through the U.S. Department of Labor (CJC). As you’ll recall, the CJC grant provides young adult former juvenile offenders with job training, GED prep, stipends, and scholarships to attend institutions of higher education. The program was successful in 2013, providing training for 79 young adults. Of them 30% earned their GED and or an industry standard computer certification and 33% of them have became gainfully employed. Additionally through a restorative justice model, the young adults are also providing a benefit to the community. This includes providing computer training and computers for residence of the Salvation Army, clients of The Centre (formerly known as the Center for Women), and Community Stepping Stones.
But despite our best efforts, we realize that we cannot be 100% successfully in meeting the goals of this grant without the help of the community, especially in meeting our recruitment goal. So, we are seeking your help. We know that you may have nieces, nephews, granddaughters, grandsons, mentees, church members, and or neighbors that are young adults that will fit the target criteria and need an opportunity like this to complete their transition into adulthood. Please share this information with them, or their parents, and encourage them to contact us for information on enrolling.
With you help, we can ALL create a better community.
Criteria to enroll:
Between the ages of 18 and 21
Have a juvenile arrest record
Have no adult crime convictions
Benefits and program characteristics
Stipend of up to $375 bi-weekly
Assistance in obtaining a GED (if needed)
Assistance in obtaining industry standard computer certification