My good friend Michael Farrell from SEI started off his client newsletter with the quote here from Steve Jobs. I am delighted to give the quote attribution and lay it against the work we are called to do at Episcopal Community Services and in our region.
Our vision is that poverty can be addressed and will be addressed. Not by government programs alone, but with the strength of individuals and independent organizations that recognize that a society has an obligation to be inclusive. Our vision is not charity. Our vision is accountability and opportunity.
Our programs are designed to lift individuals up and out of poverty by preparing them for independence. At times we need to create stability first, but in the end we believe that for those who are able, the way forward is meaningful employment and opportunity. The goal is to be the driver of your own life rather than just a passenger.
To reach independence, people need the underpinning of education, safety and wellness. That is where social service agencies have traditionally focused. Here at ECS, we are expanding on that with our youth program, introducing new methods to prepare young people ages 14-23 to be great employees. This is work we are bringing to scale. Today, 100 participants. Soon, 1,500.
The part ECS can’t do is to create jobs. Jobs that are entry level, but with a career path. Jobs with training and an opportunity for advancement. Agencies like ECS can help prepare people for success, but what we need from individuals, investors, and industry is a commitment to hire and train, to offer internships and entry level opportunities and to do so on scale and with consistency.
If you want to be innovative as a leader and do something for your community, balance hiring with programs that pull from the population of the poor and the under-served. Think about the loyalty that comes when you give someone opportunity. We can help you create these programs and connect you with individuals who are accountable and have the desire to lift themselves out of poverty. We would love to have you as a partner in this work. The vision is clear, when you get it you won’t need to be pushed, you will be pulled. I hope you will share the vision.