Jobs seen as key in healing of Ferguson
FERGUSON, Mo. -- Adrian Shropshire had no formal experience teaching young people how to find work, but after seeing his town torn apart in the wake of Michael Brown's death last year, the Ferguson resident and football coach decided he needed to help tackle the problems in his community.
In Ferguson, black households earn 40 percent less than whites and African American men here face a staggering 23 percent unemployment rate.
Shropshire says the young people he sees need education and mentorship.
""These guys are from the hood, from the city, from the heart of where the shooting is going," said Shropshire.
So with almost no funding, Shropshire launched Jobs and More -- a training program that links underserved youth with employers. Fifteen young adults have joined the program since it launched in June. Four have found jobs.
"This is part of survival, coming into jobs and more and working with us," said Shropshire. "We're like a first aid kit."
Michael Polk is one of Shropshire's students. After two weeks in the program, he's learning construction and working part-time at a Dollar Store.
"Everybody needs a mentor," Polk said. "Especially at my age to keep you from doing the wrong things and put you on track to doing the right things. He would be that back up dad saying, hey this is what you got to do, you gotta put in dependability, accountability, trustworthy."
Shropshire isn't alone. Initiatives like Ferguson One-Thousand connect businesses and community leaders to job seekers, and Youth Build, which connects young volunteers with mentors like Shropshire.
"Everything goes together with proper training and education," said Shropshire.
It's a team effort, helping to build a stronger community, one step at a time.
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