Blog Entry Youth Development, Capacity Building

"Building in Oakland" by Jordan Rufus, Summer Intern CBMA/JP Morgan Chase Fellowship Initiative

On July 21st, the Campaign for Black Male Achievement attended the "Boys and Men of Color (BMOC) Career Summit" in Oakland, California. Hosted by the My Brother's Keeper Alliance (MBKA), the event focused on addressing the unique barriers to employment and opportunity that facing young men and boys of color, and provided the chance for attendees to interview for jobs, participate in workshops, and receive valuable resources and advice around personal and career advancement. Attending the event on behalf of CBMA was our Summer Intern Jordan Rufus, who is also a participant in the JP Morgan Chase Fellowship Initiative. As a young man of color, Jordan offered his personal account on the event and how it impacted him. Read Jordan's reflections below.

My involvement in the fellowship Initiative sponsored by JP Morgan Chase has opened various opportunities for me. As a result of this strong network, I was offered a summer Internship with CBMA. Having such an essential voice in an organization that aligns with my morals in life helps keep me passionate and focused during my internship.

California has been on my bucket list of places to travel since the age of nine and finally, with the help of CBMA, I can officially cross it off. Palm trees, cool breeze, and friendly people are just the surface level of what California has to offer; as I walked down the strip of Broadway in Oakland, California I was surprised to see a diversity of local businesses owned by people of Black, Asian, White, and Latino descent with large signs on their windows stating “Black Lives Matter “. At the same time, gentrification was also present, resulting in a high rate of homelessness and forcing many “Mom and Pop” shops to close down and move elsewhere.

While there I was invited to volunteer for six-and-a-half hours at a My Brothers Keeper Alliance (MBKA) launch in Oakland. It was a heartwarming experience to say the least; nearly 40 companies were present along with 1,000 young kids of color looking for jobs -- 325 of which were granted jobs on the spot. Also available at the launch event was a tie station to assist young men in learning how to tie their own ties, as well as a haircut station where local barbers provided young men with haircuts. After all, they say when you look better you tend to feel better, and confidence is key when applying for a job.

Additionally, there were stations that helped attendees with transportation to get to work; a reclassification program to help people clean up their records; and even services to help watch people’s kids while they work. However, the station that stuck out to me the most was one focused on recruiting young men and women to work for the City of Oakland. There were many available options to choose from, such as firefighters, Council People, and County sheriffs. With all of the news around police violence facing Black men and boys, the amount of kids who gathered around the Police and had questions left me with a sense of hope. The programs will help each young man/ women hired keep the job for a longer period.

People from all over came out to support young men of color in Oakland, including Oakland native and former Seattle Seahawks football player Marshawn Lynch. He made it very clear that he cared about creating impact and supporting the kids in his neighborhood.

As I walked out of the building, I heard another young man with his voice slightly cracking as he stated “I have a job, the sky is the limit now.” This experience showed me that these jobs provide not only financial stability, but they also uplift each young man and woman spiritually.  The more love and encouragement we give out, the better the world will be.