Newsletter: Resistance Summer (and Fall)

Dear resident,

Where did the summer go?

Local Progress

As we head toward Labor Day weekend, many of you are back to your non-summer routines, as both our DCPS and public charter school students are back in class. Here at the Wilson Building, the DC Council is more than two-thirds through our summer legislative recess; our first official meeting will be Tuesday, Sept. 19. Our office has been using the summer to work on legislative proposals, do a lot of site visits, and meet with residents and businesses.

I also had the opportunity to meet with state legislators, city councilmembers, and mayors from around the country in mid-July at the Local Progress conference in Austin, Texas. One of the attendees was Charlottesville Vice-Mayor Wes Bellamy; the conference was held a few weeks before the disturbing and heartbreaking events there two weekends ago. Vice-Mayor Bellamy told us about his efforts to address Charlottesville’s racist past and move toward an equitable, just future by not only voting to remove the Robert E. Lee statue but crafting a funding package to bring more educational resources to the city’s African-American families. What happened in Charlottesville—and President Trump’s comments—I know horrified all of us, and having a personal connection to the events made it even more disturbing.

Yet it also shows that now more than ever we need to organize, connect, and work like Vice-Mayor Bellamy to create cities, states, and a country that truly is a place of opportunity, liberty, and justice for all. I’m excited to continue the work of Local Progress here in the District and support my Local Progress colleagues, like Wes Bellamy, in their work to support working families in their own cities. Belief that our city can grow equitably and inclusively is why I support a proposal to remove a Confederate statue in Judiciary Square, why I advocate for maintaining a strong paid family leave program in the District, and why I am very focused on funding educational resources not only for K-12 but for early childhood and adult education.

It’s also why I’ve spent the last two months traveling around the District meeting residents and visiting workforce training programs to better understand how to meet resident and business needs. So keep reading to see where we’ve been, and what’s coming up!  

 

LABOR AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE UPDATE

Summer Workforce Tour: As part of my committee oversight, I spent the six weeks of this year’s Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program (MBSYEP) visiting nearly two dozen different job training programs and workforce development sites across seven wards to better understand what our youth, apprentices, and unemployed residents are experiencing when using the city’s resources to become job-ready. I had great discussions with MBSYEPers, job seekers, and employers.

Here’s what I learned:

  • MBSYEP is an opportunity to stress the basics: the importance of being on-time, being professional in appearance and attitude, and being able to effectively communicate with colleagues, supervisors, and customers. EVERY employer told me our young adults and many older adults are simply not work-ready in these basic skills. Employers also told me that if applicants have these skills, they can teach the rest.

  • As a government, we need to understand better the needs of employers, particularly those in our high-demand industries. We are missing so many opportunities, especially in health-care and IT!

  • We need to understand how to leverage apprenticeships more. Apprenticeships are a great way to learn a trade while earning income. Our region has some terrific apprenticeship training programs, but we haven’t created a pipeline of District residents into these opportunities.

MBSYEP ended Aug. 4, but my tour of workforce sites and job training programs is still going. Our committee is working on legislative proposals and oversight to improve our workforce development programs. If you run a job training, apprenticeship, or adult education program that I should learn more about, please let me know! The best person to contact is Committee Director Liz Weiss at lweiss@dccouncil.us.

Connecting District Residents to Jobs: One of the biggest challenges the city continues to face is making enormous economic development investments with taxpayer dollars translate into real opportunities that benefit District residents.

NBC4

Earlier this month on Aug. 10, my office joined forces with The Wharf and Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen to co-host our fifth career fair for District residents. Over 550 residents attended to connect with employers offering jobs in retail, hospitality, leisure, and facilities services—with many residents receiving next week interviews or immediate job offers. For those who haven’t been to Southwest DC in a while, The Wharf is a $2 billion economic development project—which received help from the District in the form of tax increment financing—next to the Maine Avenue Fish Market that will include office, residential homes, retail, restaurants, hotels, and a new concert venue for the 9:30 Club called Anthem.

Career Fair

We spend a lot of time talking about “a changing DC” in conversations that include words like gentrification and displacement. But we don’t spend nearly as much time talking about how to make sure new development truly benefits the residents that these changes often most impact. One way to do that is by making sure District residents have the first chance at jobs that come about from our city’s growth.

But no plan is perfect. Along the road to career fair #5, I’ve learned that a lot of jobseekers who come to career fairs are not job ready, which means that just because jobs in the District are open doesn't mean that our residents will get them. That’s why we’ve worked to provide preparatory sessions and partner over the last year and half with workforce development programs to help every applicant be as competitive in the job market as they can be.

The Wharf is a $2 billion project that will transform the Southwest Waterfront, and I want it to transform the lives of District residents in a positive, living-wage employment type of way too.

 

COMMUNITY UPDATES

Festival

Joining Neighbors Across the City: Earlier this summer my staff and I had a fantastic time meeting neighbors at Columbia Heights Day in Ward 1, the Kennedy Street Festival in Ward 4, the Garfield Park Reunion Day in Ward 6, and our National Building Museum Community Day in Ward 2. I look forward to talking with more residents and hearing concerns in the coming weeks. You can find me and my staff at some of the upcoming events further below, or let Community Outreach Director Ashley Fox know if you’d like me to come by your next neighborhood meeting! You can contact her at afox@dccouncil.us.

Energy & Utilities Job Training Program: Goodwill has opened a six week program aligned with Pepco/Exelon’s entry-level hiring needs and employment prerequisites for residents interested in careers in energy and utilities. Residents can learn more information and enroll online here.

Multimodal Accessibility Advisory Council: The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Equity and Inclusion Division is looking for new members for its new citywide Multimodal Accessibility Advisory Council. The Council will address transit and public-space related concerns for individuals with disabilities. Contact Cesar Barreto to learn more at (202) 671-2829 or ddot.ada@dc.gov.

Target Soccer Grants: Over the next four years, Target will provide annual grants up to $1,000 to eligible schools, government agencies and nonprofits organizations, with a preference given to programs serving in-need communities. Grants will help cover player registration fees, field equipment and gear, and professional development for volunteer coaches. Applications are open now online through Aug. 30 here.

Upcoming Events

Have a great week ahead, and thanks for reading.

Elissa.