Project Jumpstart Holds Participants to a High Standard

By on November 27, 2017

From mikeroweWORKS Foundation:  Couple months ago, I went back home to speak at a fundraiser for a organization called Project Jumpstart. The Project evolved when a group of Baltimore builders – desperate to hire skilled tradespeople but unable to find any – helped subsidize a pre-apprenticeship program that identifies and qualifies potential new hires.

The program caught my attention for two reasons. First of all, its success rate is extraordinary – 80% of Jumpstart graduates placed in the construction trades over the last ten years are still employed today. That’s unprecedented. Secondly, the majority of Jumpstart graduates are recovering drug addicts and non-violent offenders. In other words, the most successful pre-apprenticeship program I’ve ever seen, consists primarily of participants that most companies would never even interview.

This kind of success begs all sorts of questions, the most obvious being, what is Project Jumpstart doing right? The most obvious answer can be found in their staff. The instructors at Jumpstart are local, talented, and totally committed to the success of the program. But of course, that’s not the same as being committed to the success of each and every participant. The people who run Jumpstart understand the success of their program depends on the satisfaction of the companies who hire their graduates. Consequently, Jumpstart holds it’s participants to a much higher standard than similar programs.

For instance, Jumpstart participants are given a daily stipend to help make ends meet during the training process. But if you screw up, the stipend is withheld. Late for class? Shirt untucked? Cell phone goes off? You pay a price for your mistakes. And if your mistakes continue, you’re out of the project. It’s really that simple.

Not to belabor the point, but this level of accountability is very unusual in endeavors like Jumpstart. Most comparable programs are funded by government monies or well-intended individuals who are so determined to see every participant succeed, they refuse to leave anyone behind. Thus, lots of people graduate, but very few succeed. That doesn’t happen with Jumpstart. Here, participants are not only trained in the core competencies of the construction trades – they’re prepared for the realities of life on the job. There’s a focus on soft skills and work ethic, and no patience or pity for a lack of either. Consequently, the employers get candidates who are not only trained, but motivated, enthused, and eager to turn their lives around.

If you have a moment, check out the attached video. It’s very short, and uncharacteristically earnest for your’s truly. But I made it because other cities could easily follow Baltimore’s example – if they know about the program. Happily, the word is getting out. Check out this note I just received from Cincinnati.

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