Men standing outside gardening

Using Job Training and Certification to Reduce Poverty

The fight to end the generational poverty in our community is ongoing. Fortunately, there are a number of organizations and individuals in Central New York that are invested in this fight for poverty reduction. See how Catholic Charities of Onondaga County is doing just that.

The fight to end the generational poverty in our community is ongoing. In 2015, Syracuse was found to have the highest rate of extreme poverty concentrated among Black and Hispanic communities. Fortunately, there are a number of organizations and individuals in Central New York that are invested in this fight for poverty reduction.

For years, Catholic Charities Diocese of Syracuse has been committed to this fight by supporting and serving people facing obstacles that make it difficult to find their way out of poverty. Catholic Charities is going into its third year of running two programs that focus on job training and placement for people seeking work.

In 2019, Catholic Charities constructed two-job training programs: Culinary Program and Project Joseph. The culinary initiative is a 5-week training that provides New Americans with lessons on cooking, baking and kitchen skills to set them up for successful job placement.

“’This past year, the Culinary Program was suspended due to COVID-19, but was reopened in March,” said Mike Melara, executive director of Catholic Charities. “The program trains 100 people each year and 85% were receiving their certifications.”

Through Project Joseph, Catholic Charities hires individuals and places them in permanent housing to help increase their rate of success in their new jobs. The project includes three tracks: property management, custodial services, and construction services. Employees on the construction services track are trained on remodeling and painting practices that lead to OSHA certificates and Department of Labor certificates.

The program has more than doubled its capacity from initially hiring seven employees in 2019 to currently staffing fifteen full-time employees.

“If you want to work, we will find you work,” said Melara. “Since this program is a business, we are limited on the number of participants that we can offer this program to. Our goal is to continue expanding to help more people.”

Catholic Charities received a series of grants from us to support the cost of a general manager to lead Project Joseph.

“Without the Central New York Community Foundation, we would not be able to provide these opportunities,” said Melara. “The funds have kept this work alive. Project Joseph and the culinary program would not exist without this support.”

Catholic Charities serves 17,000 people a year spanning across all ages, from infant to the elderly. Its main goal and purpose is to gradually reduce poverty until it is eliminated. The organization’s program and services are meant to support those who are in need of any kind of support.

“We respond to people who are in crisis. If you are having a bad day, we are there for you,” said Melara. “Our greatest value and virtue is being there.”

Catholic Charities is continuing its efforts to identify ways to reduce poverty and tackle generational poverty in the community. The organization is finding new ways to expand its lines of business to increase job opportunities that will help individuals and their families become self-sufficient and thriving. To learn more about this program, https://www.ccoc.us/.

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