Through their Social Justice Program, the Baltimore Ravens and its players are donating $100,000 to Job Opportunities Task Force (JOTF), it was announced today. The contribution will support JOTF's work, particularly Project JumpStart, a construction training program designed to assist low-wage, low-skill Baltimore City residents, including some with criminal records, find a skilled job in the construction industry.
In the spring of 2018, the National Football League announced that each team would match player contributions up to $250,000 annually for the purposes of establishing a fund to support community improvement, social justice and law enforcement relationships. The Ravens organization and its players have created a $500,000 Social Justice Fund.
This is the second distribution from the Ravens' social justice fund, which now totals $300,000 contributed to the Baltimore community this year. Last week, the Ravens organization and its players contributed $200,000 to pay part of the cost of providing heat and cooling units to Lakewood Elementary School in Baltimore City.
"As players, we constantly talk about the importance of giving back to our community and the best way to do that," Ravens safety Anthony Levine Sr. stated. "Through our Social Justice Fund, we are honored to partner with JOTF in support of Project JumpStart to assist in the much-needed training and job placement of many deserving people in Maryland."
Project JumpStart is a 14-week pre-apprenticeship construction training program, developed through a partnership between JOTF and Associated Builders and Contractors. Training includes construction math, tool education, safety skills and certifications, and entry-level skills in electrical, plumbing and carpentry. Participants and graduates receive critical, intensive case management services that include assistance with housing, benefits screenings, legal challenges, resources for financial stability, credit building and supports, and many other services intentionally designed to meet and respond to the unique needs of each student and graduate. Upon completion of the program, graduates receive job placement support, access to a secured loan of up to $2,500 for a personal vehicle, and a set of brand-new industry-approved starter tools.
"JOTF is thrilled to receive the support of the Baltimore Ravens," said executive director, Caryn York. "At JOTF, our unique approach partners program and policy, coupled with data and research, to create sustainable pathways to economic mobility for Maryland's low-wage workers. We remain intentional about transforming the systems that create and perpetuate barriers to education and employment."
Over the past year, Project JumpStart offered six classes to Baltimore City residents, enrolling 122 participants. Seventy-nine percent of the graduates were placed in industry employment, and 47 graduates are currently enrolled in formal apprenticeships. This year, Project Jumpstart enrolled its 1,000th participant and will graduate its 50th class.
Additionally, JOTF focuses on advancing policy initiatives that improve the economic conditions, outcomes and opportunities for Maryland low-income, low-skill workers. During the 2018 legislative session, JOTF's policy wins included paid sick and safe leave for full-time workers across the state, reducing financial barriers to college enrollment for GED recipients and eliminating punitive child support enforcement barriers to encourage greater non-custodial parental participation.
For more information about JOTF, please visit www.jotf.org.