By Jennifer Junghans | Special the the OBSERVER
Hope. That’s what Josh Fryday, California’s chief service officer who oversees the California Volunteers state office, envisions its $6.9 million grant made to the City of Sacramento will provide to 600 local youth from underserved communities through employment opportunities and career pathways in sustainable sectors.
Beginning in the summer of 2023 and running through May of 2024, apprenticeships and on-the-job training with community-based organizations and public agencies will focus on some of the world’s most pressing challenges including climate change, food insecurity and local COVID-19 recovery.
“When we work together … we can provide not just jobs, not just economic opportunity, but we can provide hope. Hope that we can solve these problems. Hope in the future. And hope that society can be better when we work together,” said Fryday in a press conference announcing the award in March.
The program, a #CaliforniansForAll Youth Job Corps California Volunteers initiative, aims to empower youth ages 16 to 30, prioritizing individuals from low-income communities, those who are unemployed, have been in foster care, or involved with the justice, mental health or substance abuse systems.
During the press conference, Fryday spoke directly to Sacramento’s youth. “Our message is this: We value you. We believe that you have something incredibly important to contribute to our society. And we need you.”
The goal is to provide all youth with the same opportunities to develop professional skills and qualifications, explore career pathways and contribute to their communities. But it also feeds into strengthening a green industry workforce and leadership that aligns with city and state long-term goals toward carbon neutralization and a viable, sustainable economy.
Youth who participate in the program will receive the added benefits of wraparound services such as résumé development, job training, assistance and support through case management in addition to real-world experience and pay that meets or exceeds minimum wage.
The Sacramento program is part of California Volunteer’s statewide investment of $185 million to provide similar opportunities to underserved youth throughout California.
In March, the first three Sacramento-based companies to apply for and receive program funds to employ youth were Green Tech Education, Sierra Service Project and the Sacramento Tree Foundation. Internships will focus on energy conservation and efficiency, building green infrastructure and urban forests, respectively.
And while the program aligns with and supports the missions of the participating companies, Maximilian Rosa, Sacramento program manager for Sierra Service Project says the goal isn’t to benefit the companies but the youth in the community. “My goal personally in writing this grant (proposal) is to create opportunities in my neighborhood in Del Paso Heights in North Sacramento — because I live here and I’m from here — that didn’t exist for me when I was a young person. … (We’re giving them) the future skills that young people are going to need for the world we’re passing along to them.”
For now the program is focused on the short term. But Jessica Sanders, executive director of the Sacramento Tree Foundation said in the press conference she sees it as an inspiration for the future that fosters “that joy that happens when you find yourself in meaningful work that you are dedicated to.”
Youth who are interested in applying can fill out a short form and will be notified as opportunities become available on a rolling basis.
This story is part of the Solving Sacramento journalism collaborative. Solving Sacramento is supported by funding from the James Irvine Foundation and Solutions Journalism Network. Our partners include California Groundbreakers, Capital Public Radio, Outword, Russian America Media, Sacramento Business Journal, Sacramento News & Review, Sacramento Observer and Univision 19.