“We see [Juma] as an extraordinary community partner. They’re not just someone we send people to, they are really in it with us every day”, says Goodwill Public and Media Relations Manager, Terri Parris, discussing Juma Houston’s impact on the local landscape. Juma Houston and Goodwill co-located in 2017 and thanks to that close proximity, staff from Juma and Goodwill work together seamlessly to deliver a host of services aimed at breaking down barriers for young people. Through a job with Juma and classes at Goodwill, youth gain real world skills, such as resume writing and interviewing, and find a way back into the workforce with a job and a plan for moving forward in their career.
The Houston chapter of Goodwill opened their doors in 1942 and since then they have offered a wide range of programs and services, many focused on re-entry for formerly incarcerated individuals looking for a new start. In 2019 a major focus will be Right Turn, a new re-entry program for young people ages 18-24 who have had prior experience with the juvenile justice system.
While Goodwill Houston has traditionally focused on filling skills gaps like resume writing and GED attainment, prior to Juma, there were few options for young people to earn an income while working toward their long-term career goals. “There are over 100,000 young people in the Houston area disconnected from school and work. Because few employers are willing to take on those young people with no prior job experience, Juma plays a crucial role in offering a pathway to opportunity,” says Adriane Armstrong, Juma CEO. In addition to providing work, staff at Juma Houston have also used their role in the community as a platform to raise awareness of youth unemployment and the many barriers preventing young people from accessing opportunity. “A major impact we have had in the community is just raising awareness of this issue and bringing more attention to the impact of youth unemployment on both the youth and our local economy.”
In 2018, Goodwill recognized Juma’s work to raise awareness and provide opportunities by naming Juma Houston their Employer of the Year. “In the two years they have been here they have been a true partner”, cites Terri. “It’s not frequent for somebody to be as at-the-ready all the time as Juma is for us. It’s a sense of just real partnership. We love Juma and we think it’s an exciting concept for people to be able to have the kinds of jobs available to them that Juma can provide. It makes a big difference.”
In 2019, Juma Houston will work to serve over 150 youth and partner with Goodwill on their new re-entry program, Right Turn. Juma Houston will also roll out new programming in the areas of financial literacy and soft skills and work to establish new partnerships with employers and schools. In Juma’s third year in the city, with core partnerships solidified in Houston’s major venues, Juma will focus on expanding partnerships and offering more opportunities for youth post-Juma.