“A job is the best social program in the world” states Dale G. Caldwell, President of the company Strategic Influence LLC. This statement is reinforced throughout the Young Men Employment Network (YMEN) Workforce Readiness /Video Game Tournament. 

Saturday May 7, 2016 ( 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.) young men ages 14-18 are invited to attend a forum that teaches how to complete a paper and on-line job application, conduct an effective interview and manage a minimum wage budget.

The YMEN uses a special twist to excite and meet the youth where they are by offering a video game tournament as an incentive for mastery of the skills outlined. Giant 100 inch screens are used to project video games that include Madden, Call of Duty and NBA Live. The target group are young men that are active participants in fraternity mentor programs, sports teams, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and the Rutgers University RU Ready For Work Program. These groups were targeted based on their ability to follow up and provide mentor services to youth after the session. 

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The East Orange Chamber of Commerce played a major role in supporting the program through the local Burger King Restaurant at 645 Central Ave, East Orange. Local entrepreneurs are also a part of the program and help by hosting small group conversations with youth about starting small businesses as a source of income (DJ services, graphic designers, and photographers). TD Bank provides financial empowerment information and resources to help first time employee open direct deposit accounts. A special Community Service Award will be provided to Mrs. Aline Kpelly for extreme generosity over the past three years in providing over 300 brand name neck ties to the YMEN. Ms. Kpelly is the mother of a teenage boy and local business owner.

Unemployment rates among American youth are at one of the highest rates in recent history. For urban African American male teenagers the rate is conservatively reported at 65% according to the US Department of Labor. The YMEN  works with local mentor programs to reverse this trend. The YMEN is managed by the company Strategic Influence LLC, through its Youth and Family Division School2Success. 

The event is hosted at the Greater Essex Community Uplift Foundation at 132 South Harrison St in East Orange, in partnership with the Mighty Mighty Eta Pi Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. The YMEN is one of many new and innovative community activities being offered at the community center. The event will take place from 1 p.m. - 4 pm and more information can be found at www.School2Success.com


Matthew Stevens


School 2 Success