Taller San Jose empowers Orange County’s youth from disadvantaged neighborhoods with the training and skills needed to get and keep a job.
There are more than 55,000 youth between the ages of 18-28 living in poverty in Central Orange County. In Santa Ana, the County seat, only 50% of the population over age 25 has a high school diploma and over 19% of the city’s residents live in poverty, compared with 9.6% of Orange County residents. These factors, combined with gang involvement, juvenile crime and incarceration, drug use, and early, unplanned pregnancies, all constrain employment opportunities.
Based on the belief that young people don’t learn how to work by sitting in a classroom, Taller San Jose provides youth with 16-20 weeks of hands-on training in Construction, Healthcare or General Business. This training, coupled with 24 months of case management and job preparation, placement and retention support, empowers students to move out of poverty by teaching them how to get and keep a job.
Taller San Jose was founded in 1995 by Sister Eileen McNerney after she and three other nuns moved to a gang-ridden neighborhood in Santa Ana, where gun shots and drug sales were commonplace. She resolved to develop a program that could move young people from violence to productivity one summer evening while she listened helplessly to a piercing cry that rang through the open windows of her busy street; it was the agonizing wail of a mother who had just lost her second son to gang violence.
In seventeen years, Taller San Jose has helped more than 4,500 of Orange County’s disadvantaged youth develop marketable skills and find employment. In the past year, 175 graduates were placed into employment with an average starting wage of $11.13 per hour; 72% will remain employed one year after graduation.
How you can help
Each year 200 youth enroll in Taller San Jose looking for a way to turn their lives around. For these young men and women a good job and the stability it promises is a powerful gift. Raising $150,000 will enable Taller San Jose to provide real employment opportunities to youth through its social enterprise and general contracting company, Hope Builders, Inc. Hope Builders hires graduates of Taller San Jose’s construction academy to provide a range of remodeling and rehabilitation services for distressed properties; Hope Builders also increases mission impact through business-generated revenue. With your support, by the end of this year Hope Builders will employ 15 youth and within the next three years will employ 32 previously unemployed young people.