Monday, May 18, 2009

Green Jobs for Smart Kids!

What the heck is a "green job" anyway and why should we care! And no, if your from Savannah, it's not a job St. Patrick's Day job. lol.

Well, I figured I would do a little Internet digging and here is just a few definitions that I could find, which seemed to narrow the scope just a bit, which I might add is hard to do given the relative ambiguity of many of the terms used in this field like "all natural" or "non toxic" which can sometime means different things depending on the circumstances. Nonetheless, here we go..

Time Magezine-According to Phil Angelides a venture capitalist and the 2006 Democratic candidate for governor of California (he lost to the political world's best-known Austrian-American), Angelides is the chair of the Apollo Alliance, a coalition of business, labor and environmental groups championing green employment. Here's how he defines a green job: "It has to pay decent wages and benefits that can support a family. It has to be part of a real career path, with upward mobility. And it needs to reduce waste and pollution and benefit the environment." {I like this one!}

United Nations Environment Program-We define green jobs as work in agricultural, manufacturing, research and development (R&D), administrative, and service activities that contribute substantially to preserving or restoring environmental quality. Specifically, but not exclusively, this includes jobs that help to protect ecosystems and biodiversity; reduce energy, materials, and water consumption through high-efficiency strategies; de-carbonize the economy; and minimize or altogether avoid generation of all forms of waste and pollution.

No matter what the definition is that you prefer, AWOL's Information Technology program for at-risk youth is certainly a "green job". AWOL youth are enrolled in what we have dubbed as the "Goon Squad". Youth learn all about how to refurbish and recycle old PC's that would otherwise be headed for a landfill, thus emitting harmful toxins into our environment. This particular AWOL program was recently featured in the May 2009 edition of Black Enterprise Magazine! (turn to page 82). What's even more important is that not only do they learn a valuable job skill, that gives them plenty of opportunity for career advancement, they get to help out the community by giving the newly refurbished PC's to needy families that have no access to home computing.

What's more is that, AWOL's Good Squad program utilizes only open source (free) software platforms (we like Ubuntu) on refurbished PC's making the PC sustainable for poor families who may not have the cash flow for upgrades to other proprietary software (sorry Bill, no Window here). Ubuntu is an African concept of 'humanity towards others'. It is 'the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity'.

So how did we end up with an IT program for youth in edtion to our arts programs? Well, in our orginal master grant we had decided from the out set that while arts was a great way to engage young people, not all of them would be "super talented"so to speak. And the bottom line is that not everbody is going to be the next Angela Bassett or Common, so we wanted to make sure that our youth development program came equipped with a cutting edge job training component that fit with the rapidly changing world of technology around us. If it's one thinng we have always been clear about, it's been the need to expose kids to as much technology as possible. Gone are the day's of simply teaching them how to drive a forklift. In order to compete in this world, kids need to be able to develop a software program that tells the forklift what box to pick up!

So this is how we ended up training kids for those "green jobs" that everyone keeps talking about. So if you own a company or work for a one, go down to the IT department and ask them just what happens to all those old PC's after they are done using them. Tell them you know of a great program that could sure use a couple 100 PC's for kids to train on and give back to the community. What a great way to help "bridge the digital divide"

Want to see the Goon Squad in action? Check out this video of our Big PC Giveaway that was supported by AWOL's corporate sponsor, Cricket Wireless. Did I mention that Cricket, a national corporation stepped up to the plate and gave away 25 free Cricket modems with 6 months of free service for needy families? Now that's what I call corporate resposibility at it's best!

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