Outcomes Evidence Proves Case for Youth Employment

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Youth employment is recognized as a solution to decreasing the summer spike in crime, but is it worth the cost, and does it have impact beyond the summer months? A new study of Chicago youth living in thirteen high violent school areas documented a 43 percent drop in violent crime during employment plus the thirteen months afterwards.

The study explored the effect of part-time employment on 1,634 youth from thirteen high-violence areas of Chicago. Students participating in the program were almost entirely minority and more than 90 percent were enrolled in free or reduced lunch during the school year. About one-fifth of the students had been previously arrested and about a fifth had been a victim of a crime.

Students participating in the study (ages 14-21) were randomly separated into three groups. One group was employed for 25 hours a week for eight weeks at minimum wage ($8.25 per hour). A second group was employed for 15 hours a week, along with participating in ten hours of social-emotional learning classes intended to educate participants on understanding and managing aspects of their behavior that might interfere with successful employment. In addition, both groups of students were matched with an adult job mentor to assist them in managing employment barriers. The third control group was not offered employment through the program.

The objective of the study was to answer the question, does summer employment have lasting impact on youth? It was overseen by University of Pennsylvania criminologist Sara Heller. The 2012 study was a collaboration between the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services, the University of Chicago Crime Lab, and One Summer Chicago, a local and county government partnership created in 2011. The program, named One Summer Plus, employed students in diverse positions, including as camp counselors, community garden workers, and assistants in city aldermen’s offices.

The study documented a lasting impact on youth behavior. Administrators worked with the Chicago Police Department to identify results both during employment as well as thirteen months after employment. The study found that students in the first and second groups were arrested for violent crimes 43 percent less than the control group. Students were slightly more likely to be involved in property and drug-related crimes, but the amount was statistically insignificant. The study did not document any differences in behavior between students in the two employed groups.

The 2012 study results were even more significant given the high rate of unemployment among youth. The 2010 employment rate for low-income black teens in Illinois, nine percent, was less than one-fourth that of higher-income white teens, at 39 percent. During that summer, youth employment was at a 60-year low, particularly for low-income minority teens. Additionally, in 2013, One Summer Chicago received 67,000 applications for 20,000 employment opportunities.

Often, leaders measure impact of these types of programs in monetary terms alone, leading to drastic undervaluation. In the 2012 program, each employed student cost $3,000, including $1,400 in wages plus $1,600 in administrative costs. Societal benefits of reduced crime are estimated at $1,700 per student. But youth living in areas of low employment and high criminal activity experience other benefits, including learning the importance of work as well as good habits they can use throughout their lives.

With the recession ending, employment is rising, but youth are often the last to find employment. Currently, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall youth unemployment rate is 14 percent, down only two percent from a year before. This means there are an estimated 5.6 million youth between the ages of 16 and 24 that are neither enrolled in school nor employed.

Original Cite: https://nonprofitquarterly.org/policysocial-context/25348-summer-jobs-for-youth-decrease-crime.html

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“Property of” No More: Nonprofits Help Sex Trafficking Survivors Remove Markings

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In the United States, the trafficking of human beings is a billion-dollar industry. Criminals profit because crimes go unreported and underreported. Since the risk of being caught is low, pimps and gangs engaging in sex trafficking are becoming more brazen and violent. Many use tattoos to mark women as property. Women escaping the brothels have more frequently turned to nonprofits and generous donors to fund procedures to cover the markings of the world they attempt to escape.

Sex traffickers entice their victims with promises of illegal drugs, luxuries, high-paying jobs, and romantic relationships. Once trapped in their web, victims are subject to crushing control, physical and emotional abuse, sexual assault, and isolation. Victims are treated as property of the pimp or gang. Tattoos are systematically used to identify ownership as well as status as “best” provider of sexual acts. Tattoo artists live in crack houses, often tattooing women between “customers.” Markings include gang symbols, sexual slang words, dollar signs, “Property of X” and, increasingly, bar codes that can be scanned by smartphones. These tattoos are placed all over women’s bodies, including on their breasts, legs, eyelids, and gums.

Less than two years ago, Jennifer Kempton was part of a very different life. She was considered the “property of” a gang of thugs in Columbus, Ohio. The horror began after her boyfriend sold her to fund his own addiction and eventually directly to the gang. While part of the gang, she was branded four times including a tattoo marking her “property of Salem.” Mandated to sell her body for a daily quota of $500 to $1000 from six to ten men every day, Jennifer tried to commit suicide. When the attempt failed, she escaped the gang and eventually founded Survivor’s Ink. The nonprofit organization partners with a local tattoo artist to cover up and transform the tattoos abusers use to mark women into images of hope and recovery.

In the six months since the project began, donors have funded seven scholarships. Andrea was one of the first women funded by Survivor’s Ink. She was the victim of a dysfunctional childhood and later became addicted to drugs. Her abusers accused her of stealing and pistol-whipped her immediately before tattooing a heart and her abuser’s initials on her breast.

Outside of Chicago, a tattoo artist started the INK 180 ministry. The nonprofit began by engaging youth in creating murals to cover gang graffiti. By working with youth, the founder learned how difficult it was for former gang members to begin new lives. Many employers would not hire a former gang member due to the gang tattoos on their bodies. Quickly, activities grew to also include sex trafficking survivors. The organization works with law enforcement to identify survivors, and markings are covered completely free of charge.

According to the International Labour Organization, in 2012, an estimated 20.9 million victims around the world—1.5 million in North America alone—were exploited in the trafficking industry. Ninety percent of victims are entangled by individuals and businesses. Of those, 68 percent are forced to participate in the exploitation of their labor and 22 percent are exploited for sex. Three-quarters of the victims are adults; men and women are roughly equally taken advantage of (55 percent women; 45 percent men). Trafficking occurs in every state, but the three states with the most cases are California, Florida, and Texas.

Perpetrators of the sex trade are exceptionally violent and pursue younger victims. Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS) estimates that there are 300,000 American girls involved in the industry at any given moment and the average starting age is 13. The National Runaway Safeline estimates that within 48 hours of leaving home, one third of all runaway teens are approached by traffickers.

Survivors struggle to escape their captors. They are isolated with few resources and are unfamiliar with their surroundings—even the language. Thanks to the pimps and gangs that use them, many women have criminal felony records for drug possession and prostitution. In many states, through nonprofit advocacy efforts, there has been a shift in prosecution, creating court procedures to help survivors clear their names.

More and more, nonprofits are focusing on alleviating demand as well as providing services to survivors. Many victims of human trafficking are vulnerable to exploitation, but the laws of supply and demand dictate the industry’s profits. Human trafficking is driven by the demand for cheap labor and commercial sex.

Once their bodies are clear of the violent physical reminders, survivors continue their fight to rebuild their lives and hope for the future.

Original Cite: https://nonprofitquarterly.org/policysocial-context/25262-property-of-no-more-nonprofits-help-sex-traffic-survivors-remove-markings.html

Community Colleges Look to Raise Essential Funds from Private Donors

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Recently, LaGuardia Community College leaders took a page from the four-year institutions that share the same metropolitan area. The college is expanding its development activities to increase funding for the scholarships desperately needed by many of its diverse low-income students. Thankfully, these activities are succeeding, as is evident from its recent annual gala, which led to the largest gift—$100,000—that the institution has ever received.

At a four-year institution, LaGuardia’s recent gift would not be newsworthy. But few community college alumni donors earn incomes that can afford hundred thousand–dollar gifts. Many start as immigrants, and most have families of their own. Adding to their balancing act, most students are also required to work while attending school. Two-thirds of LaGuardia’s families earn $25,000 a year or less.

There are 1,100 community colleges, and many are new to raising private donations and individual giving campaigns. LaGuardia’s efforts began thirteen years ago with the tenure of President Gail O. Mellow. Partially because community colleges have not developed a culture of giving, they have small endowments, if any, and few other resources to support needy students. The two-year college with the largest endowment is Washington State’s Clark College. It was founded in 1933 and has an endowment of $47 million. Although this is almost ten times larger than the average community college’s endowment of $4.6 million, it ranks only 676th compared to other college endowments. The average four-year institution has an endowment of approximately $230 million.

Unlike many four-year institutions, which began in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many community colleges opened in the 1960s and ’70s; LaGuardia opened in 1968. Community colleges were developed by the Truman Commission of the 1940s, but their numbers grew in response to demand by Vietnam veterans returning after the war and an increasing number of women entering college.

Historically, community colleges have depended on government funding to bridge the gap between modest tuition and expenses. At LaGuardia Community College, 69 percent of revenue stems directly from government funding plus an additional 18 percent indirectly from student tuition funded by government grants. This revenue source is decreasing as tax revenue declines due to the recession and other demands on government.

Although four-year public institutions also depend on government revenue, they are not experiencing as large a reduction as community colleges. The Century Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank, found that between 1999 and 2009, funding per student increased by almost $14,000 at private research universities while the increase for community colleges was barely a dollar. While funding remains constant, demand is skyrocketing. For example, earlier this year, Chicago’s Mayor Emanuel announced a new scholarship program for Chicago public school students who have a grade point average of at least 3.0 and are academically ready for college level math and English. The program will cover tuition, fees, and books at any Chicago community college. The large majority of these scholarships will be generated through increased system efficiencies rather than new revenue.

As revenue stagnates, community colleges are forced to make choices between larger class sizes and increases in tuition. Many choose to limit class size. Students unable to enroll are targeted by for-profit institutions. A 2012 report from the U.S. Treasury Department noted a connection between a drop in government funding and an increase in the number of students attending for-profit educational institutions. Students at for-profit institutions have higher student loan default rates and lower graduation rates.

All of these cuts are leading community colleges like LaGuardia to search for private sources to fund scholarships and other essential student grants. Although educational organizations are the second-largest recipients of philanthropy (after religious organizations), most of these funds are directed away from community colleges. For example, large foundations awarded charter schools $297 million in 2012. This amount was almost double what community colleges received, even though community colleges educated over four times as many students. Recently, this disparity has begun to shift, as major foundations, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Lumina, are increasing their support for community colleges.

Community colleges are also seeking to expand revenue through individual donations from alumni. Leaders realize that students turn to community colleges for several reasons. Many use them as a springboard or supplement to an education from a four-year institution. Others complete their education at the community college to become a dental assistant, nurse, paralegal, etc. Community college students receiving a degree from that institution have a stronger connection and a greater chance of becoming a donor than those attending a small number of classes.

At LaGuardia Community College, major donors receive lots of attention, but a strong individual funding stream develops with many smaller gifts from a large number of alumni. At first, community colleges may long for the wealthy alumni of four-year institutions, but eventually they learn gifts are more likely to come from donors with a strong connection to the institution. By cultivating these relationships, community colleges can grow a new source of essential revenue.

Currently, many community college alumni are dependable donors, but not to their secondary institutions. A study from the Chronicle of Philanthropy found that donors making less than $100,000 tend to donate a higher percentage of their income than those making substantially more. Wealthier donors tend to give to universities, while low- to middle-income donors tend to give to social service organizations.

For community colleges like LaGuardia, creating campaigns similar to those at four-year institutions could turn alumni into donors and start to stem the tide of funding inequality.

Original cite: https://nonprofitquarterly.org/philanthropy/25253-community-colleges-look-to-raise-essential-funds-from-private-donors.html