AS HARRIET TUBMAN would thousands of years later, the Biblical Moses freed an entire community of slaves suffering under their harsh taskmasters. In doing so, Moses transformed an entire community of people into one of the most prosperous cultures of all time. It isn’t every day we have the opportunity to act like Moses or Tubman, but a young, modern day, 17-year old boy with the same biblical name showed me the way.
Two years ago, I was sitting in a New York deli with a dear friend of mine, Veronica Soto. For the past twenty years, Veronica has been helping government agencies develop workforce programs that enable disadvantaged residents to lift themselves out of poverty through construction careers that provide access to union apprenticeship. As the Program Director for Emerald Cities Collaborative, Veronica was working with me to consult on a New York area program. When I asked Veronica to explain why LCPtracker is so important to her programs’ impact, she beamed and said, “Let me tell you the story of Moses.”
On a Monday evening, Veronica was making a presentation about Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) $6.2-billion-dollar college building program to a minority contractor association in Los Angeles’ Crenshaw district, a well-known, economically depressed inner-city area. LACCD runs a premier workforce program that consistently meets or exceeds the college district’s 30% local worker hiring goal and provides disadvantaged men and women with access to union apprenticeship through its partnership with the craft union’s signatory to the Project Labor Agreement (PLA). As the meeting unfolded, the host asked Veronica to meet a young man who was in desperate need of help. Veronica was escorted to the back of the site where a boys’ group home was. There, is where she met Moses.
Moses was a lanky Hispanic youth who meekly introduced himself and asked for an opportunity to work. Moses explained that because he was about to turn eighteen, he would be forced to leave his group home. Due to Moses’ mother’s dire circumstances, Moses had been moved into foster care at the age of eleven. During the course of seven years, he had been heartlessly shuttled among 42 different foster and group homes. Moses pleaded for a job to start a new life and help his mom and two younger siblings. His goal was to try to meet his family’s basic needs by providing food and better living conditions. Her heart warming in empathy, Veronica decided she would help Moses. She organized her staff to meet Moses two days later to evaluate his apprenticeship potential, and an hour after this meeting, her team confirmed they would sponsor him into the Carpenters Union Local 409. By that evening, Moses was officially enrolled with the Carpenters Union, with his union initiation fees generously donated by her staff. The next day, Veronica asked a friend of hers if she could buy Moses boots and proper clothes for construction work. On Monday morning, he showed up to work early to launch his new life.
While Moses’ story has a positive ending, there are hundreds of thousands of American young men and women out there who crave a similar opportunity for a better life. The Department of Labor estimates 790,000 new construction jobs over the next 10 years. President Trump’s goal is to invest one trillion dollars into infrastructure which will also create several hundred thousand construction jobs. If we just ensure 25% of those career opportunities go to the disadvantaged, we would transform our inner cities.
How can we ensure that these jobs go to the disadvantaged and that campaigns such as Veronica’s are successful and continue to receive funding? With the new advances in certified payroll and workforce reporting software agencies are now able to make data-driven policy decisions to open up hiring to those in need. Davis-Bacon and prevailing wage law requirements are transforming worker demographics and insuring fair wages and treatment for all by making contractor performance and hiring practices transparent.
In the end, Davis-Bacon and prevailing wage laws create opportunities for women, minorities, veterans, the homeless, the economically disadvantaged, single custodial parents, those with criminal records, those who are chronically unemployed, those with no GED or high school diploma, and those receiving public assistance to obtain jobs that lift them out of poverty and eliminate their need for public assistance. Such careers transform lives and break the cycle of poverty. The beauty of hiring the underprivileged is--once you lift one person out of poverty, you lift up their entire family and all the generations to come.
After Veronica shared Moses’s story, I began to realize my software program wasn’t just tracking numbers and providing data. Rather, it was providing jobs for those who normally would be overlooked and lifting them and their families out of poverty. LCPtracker’s technology is impacting an entire population of underprivileged inner city residents who are deprived of basic opportunities with which I was raised.
Knowing this has ignited my passion for a new personal mission. My dream is to use my company’s data to transform the lives of the disadvantaged in America and beyond, which in essence will lift us all to a new level of prosperity. The more we help each other, the farther we can all run.
With transparent data on all workforce projects coupled with our new corporate responsibility movement powered by TEDster Simon Sinek to better the lives of employees and communities, we are on the cusp of worldwide change to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor. In his book Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think, X-Prize founder Peter Diamandis and New York Times’ bestselling author Steven Kotler said we already possess the technology we need to solve all world problems now.
I believe in this mission, and I know a major step would be to eliminate poverty and provide jobs for everyone. LCPtracker’s new vision is to “empower people to build better communities,” which we’ve unknowingly been doing all along. Now that we recognize the power of our technology, we can’t wait to do even more to help America and the world. By enabling workforce reporting and visibility we empower the ability to create hundreds of thousands inner city jobs. We will be transforming those communities and the people that live there for generations to come.