A Note from our CEO, Adriane Armstrong:
Dear Juma Community,
In our 25th anniversary year, I have taken the opportunity to reflect on Juma’s legacy. My own story with Juma began in 2003, when a mentor helping me apply to an internship shared a sample cover letter—a cover letter of her own application to work at Juma. Fast forward, I became a Juma volunteer in 2005, and joined staff in 2011—and since then, the organization has experienced both rapid geographic expansion and an exponential increase in youth served.
But Juma’s story began before 2003, when a decade prior, the organization was one of the first nonprofits in the country to own a commercial franchise, with the sole purpose of providing jobs to homeless youth. Juma was at the forefront of the social enterprise movement. In my transition to CEO, I had the privilege of connecting with the founding visionaries, those who laid the foundation for this organization that has employed more than 7,000 youth from underserved communities.
With this respect and appreciation for their legacy, I am excited to share with you the future of Juma. Like the youth we served in 1993, we are once again working with young people who urgently need a supportive job and a chance to get back on their feet. In the next five years, Juma is set to serve nearly as many youth as we’ve employed in our entire 25-year history, and will deepen its impact through the YouthConnect program that focuses on connecting youth to permanent employment and continued education that leads to well-paying career pathways and economic stability. To get there, we make sure the youth have the opportunity to earn their first paycheck, learn how to manage their money, and develop essential skills like responsibility, teamwork and how to communicate in the workplace.
Ultimately, we aim to serve more youth, and serve them better. This direction is the result of a year of strategic planning that culminated in late 2017. However, it is also a reflection of the organic evolution of the organization. As we began to expand our social enterprises in 2012, starting with New Orleans, we led with the principle that we would seek to understand the communities we were operating in, learn who most needed our jobs, and then determine how best to serve those youth.
After expanding to New Orleans, Seattle, San Jose, Atlanta, Sacramento, and Houston, we recognized that more than two-thirds of the youth we were employing had been out of work and out of school when they found Juma, and only one-third were in high school actively pursuing a path to college. In addition, we were experiencing unprecedented demand from companies who wanted to offer our youth permanent employment after they worked with Juma—enabling us to build a model encouraging employment and continued education, financial stability and career development. We are recognizing that for our young people, work is not an optional aside to education. For most, it is the necessary foundation to getting through it.
With this, we have made the difficult decision to sunset the Pathways program, the flagship of our Bay Area sites for the past decade. We are committed to serving our amazing youth currently in the program through their connection to college, and the last Pathways class will graduate in May 2019.
In our 25th anniversary year, we honor those youth who achieved high school graduation and college matriculation (more than 90% last year), and furthermore have graduated from college at a rate of 65%, far surpassing their peers from similar backgrounds and on par with the national average. We honor the youth who have led us to our future direction, who let us know that our jobs were changing their lives and our programming was creating opportunities that they never thought possible. We honor our founders, who believed a business could help youth reach their potential and had the vision that if you can give a young person a job with support, they can get back on their feet—and the rest is history. And, of course, we honor our supporters who have helped make possible possible for more than 7000 youth across our communities.
Thank you for being on this journey with us—and the best is yet to come.
CEO, Juma Ventures
To learn more, join Adriane on Wednesday, April 11th at 12 p.m. (PST) for an online conversation about Juma’s strategy and what is on the horizon.