Program aims to get young people of color ready for the job market

NEW YORK --A stubborn problem inFriday's jobs report may undermine the American dream.

The unemployment rate for young white men was 7.6 percent. But for Hispanics it was 10.8 percent, and African-Americans, nearly 20 percent.

It may look like a game of musical chairs, but what instructor Donnell Hill is teaching in a Harlem classroom is serious business.

"We are learning time management," a student says.

"There it is, right? That's even more of a thing. How many of you are making moves to get here on time in the morning?" Hill asks.

This is STRIVE, a unique nonprofit focused on providing job training skills. Its participants are mostly young men of color. For some, it's the first time they've worn a shirt and tie.

It's been STRIVE's mission to help them find work for the past 30 years. "60 Minutes" first highlighted the organization's efforts in 1997.

Since then, it's shown remarkable results. STRIVE has a 70 percent success rate and has helped more than 66,000 find a job.

The model is pretty straightforward. For six weeks straight, instructors hammer home the basics, drilling students on interviewing skills and even proper handshakes.

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A STRIVE participant practices a strong handshake with instructor Donnell Hill.

CBS News

But it's also part group therapy: They all must tell the others where their lives went wrong.

Joseph Moreira, 23, says he learned important lessons from the program.

"That staying comfortable doesn't get you anywhere," Moreira tell CBS News. "Pretty much, to grow as a person, you have to put yourself in uncomfortable situations to know what you really can do."

"Our job is to figure out what's going to prevent a young person in a low income community to access an opportunity," STRIVE CEO Phil Weinberg says. "It might be clothing, it might be transportation, it might be issues they're having in their household. And we've got teams that wrap around those individuals and make sure that we're helping them troubleshoot and address road blocks that might be standing in their way to work."

After they graduate from the classroom, next is on-site job training. During a session at Solar One, they're learning energy efficiency installation and will earn professional certifications.

"If you want to get something, if you want to be something, you have to live like that now," says 19-year-old Khadim Sarr.

STRIVE has grown tremendously since it first started. Today there are STRIVE chapters in 20 cities across the country and even affiliates in London and Jerusalem.

  • Elaine Quijano

    Elaine Quijano was named a CBS News correspondent in January 2010. Quijano reports for "CBS This Morning" and the "CBS Evening News," and contributes across all CBS News platforms. She is based in New York.