Phoenix’s youth reconnect with their futures


Video: MAKE THE HAMMER WORK FOR YOU.

Reporter: AT THE YOUTH HEADQUARTERS IN PHOENIX, DREAMS ARE UNDER CONSTRUCTION. YOUTH BUILD IS AN ORGANIZATION THAT HELPS DISCONNECTED YOUTH GET THEIR GED AND AT THE SAME TIME LEARN CONSTRUCTION SKILLS. FOR JACOB MURIETTA YOUTH BUILD IS A WAY OUT AND A WAY UP.

JACOB MURIETTA: GROWING UP IN MY TYPE OF ENVIORNMENT WASN’T NECESSAIRLY ALL THAT WELL. THERE WASN’T TOO MUCH GOING AROUND. DRUGS WERE GOING AROUND, GANGS WERE GOING AROUND. VIOLENCE, NARCOTICS.

Reporter: RAISED BY A SINGLE FATHER, JACOB AFTER HIS FATHER LEFT THE FAMILY. JACOB AND HIS FIVE SIBLINGS HAVE ALWAYS STRUGGLED.

JACOB MURIETTA: WHEN YOU’RE AT HOME ALL YOU HAVE IS PROBLEMS ALL YOU HAVE IS STRUGGLES YOU WANT TO FIND SOMETHING TO EAT AND YOU HAVE NOTHING TO EAT AND YOU HAVE NOTHING TO EAT SO YOU HAVE TO GO OUT THERE AND TRY TO FIND YOUR OWN TYPE OF MONEY AND YOUR OWN TYPE OF ENTERTAINMENT.

Reporter: JACOB NEVER FINISHED HIGH SCHOOL AND HE HAD A HARD TIME FINDING WORK.

Reporter: HE WAS NEARLY HOMELESS AND READY TO GIVE UP UNTIL HE HEARD ABOUT AN ORGANIZATION CALLED ACYR OR ARIZONA CENTER FOR YOUTH RESOURCES.

Reporter: ACYR HELPS DISCONNECTED YOUTH LIKE JACOB WIT EDUCATION, CAREER PATHS AND JOB SKILLS PROGRAMS LIKE YOUTH BUILD.

Video: IT IS A GREAT PROGRAM.

Reporter: ON MONDAY, ACYR HOLD INFORMATIVE MEETINGS INSIDE THIS STARBUCKS AT 7TH AVENUE AND CAMELBACK. AS PART OF ITS COMMITMENT TO COMMUNITIES THE SEATTLE BASED COFFEE GIANT BUILT THIS MEETEING ROOM. GROUPS LIKE ACYR USE IT ON A REGULAR BASIS AS AN OUTREACH POST.

CHARLOTTE BARNET: THE PROGRAM THAT WE’RE OFFERING HERE IN THE STORE ALLOWS US TO MEET WITH YOUNG PEOPLE HERE, HELP THEM WITH ASSESSMENTS AND SKILL BUILDING AND CAREER DEVELOPMENT PLANS. WE PROVIDE CAREER SKILLS TRAINING FOR THEM WHERE THEY CAN LEARN ABOUT RESUMES AND INTERVIEWING TECHNIQUES.

Reporter: CHARLOTTE BARNET IS ACYR CEO SHE SAYS PHOENIX IS A HOT BED FOR DISCONNECTED YOUTH. YOUNG PEOPLE AGES 16 TO 24 WHO ARE NOT IN SCHOOL AND NOT WORKING ARE LACKING BASIC SKILLS AND SUPPORT BARNET SAYS THE GROUP FACES ENORMOUS BARRIERS.

CHARLOTTE BARNET: THE ROLE POVERTY TAKES IN THIS WITH OUT YOUNG PEOPLE UNFORTUNATELY IT'S CYCLICAL. TYPICALLY STUDIES HAVE SHOWN PARENT'S EDUCATION LEVELS ARE THEN REPEATED IN THEIR CHILDREN'S LEVELS AND EMPLOYMENT AND POVERTY AND I MEAN YOU CAN KEEP GOING.

Reporter: FELIX MORAN IS A YOUNTH ENGAGMENT SPECIALIST WITH ACYR. HE LEADS THIS INFORMATIONAL SESSIONS. HE’S PASSIONATE ABOUT THE PROGRAMS AND ACYR AND HE HAS GOODREASON TO BE. A FROMER CEO MEMBER AND FELON HE WAS ON A SELF-DESTRUCTIVE PATH WITH NO END.

FELIX MORAN: ONCE I WENT TO PRISON THAT’S WHEN MY MENTALITY CHANGED AND I WAS LIKE THIS IS NOT MY LIFE. THIS IS NOT WHERE I WANTED TO FINISH AND THIS IS NOT WHERE I WANT TO STOP.

Reporter: FELIX CREDITS ACYR WITH HELPING HIM FIND HIS FOOTING, HE GOT HIS GED AND JOINED YOUTH BUILD.

FELIX MORAN: YOUTH BUILD GAVE ME KNOWLEDGE AND INFORMATION TO BECOME A POSITIVE LEADER NOT JUST AMONG THE GROUP THAT I WORK WEEKENDS WITH BUT ALSO IN MY COMMUNITY CAUSE NOW I HAVE THE RESOURCES TO BE ABLE TO TAKE BACK TO MY FRIENDS.

Reporter: HE DID SO WELL IN THE PROGRAMS AND WAS SUCH A POSITIVE INFLUENCE ON THE OTHER YOUTH CHARLOTTE FELT FELIX COULD REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

FELIX MORAN: THE AGENCY EVENTUALLY HIRED ME

CHARLOTTE BARNET: BUT THERES NOTHING LIKE ANOTHER YOUNG PERSON WHO’S BEEN THERE WITH THOSE YOUNG PEOPLE THAT CAN TRULY TELL THEM THAT IT’S POSSIBLE. THAT THERE ARE WAYS TO MOVE FORWARD EVEN IF THEY FEEL LIKE THEY KEEP GETTING KNOCKED DOWN.


Reporter: AND THESE KIDS GET KNOCKED DOWN A LOT. ITS ESTIMATED ARIZONA HAS 18,000 DISCONNECTED YOUTH ACCORDING TO A RECENT STUDY THEY WILL COST THE STATE 7 BILLION DOLLARS OVER THEIR LIFE TIME. MUCH OF THAT IS DUE TO SEVERE ECONOMIC INSECURITY, LOW WAY JOBS AND RELYING ON GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE. ONE WAY TO STOP THE CYCLE? GETTING LARGE CORPORATIONS TO STEP UP. STARBUCKS EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN HOWARD SCHULTZ CREATED THE 100,000 INITIATIVES DIRECTING COMPANIES TO HIRE 100,000 DISCONNECTED YOUTH. SHULTZ HAS PLEDGED TO HIRE 10,000 YOUNG PEOPLE BY THE END OF 2018.

HOWARD SHULTZ: WHEN I LOOK AT THESE KIDS, IT IS VERY PERSONAL FOR ME. I GREW UP IN BROOKLYN IN FEDERALLY SUBSIDIZED HOUSING MY DAD NEVER MADE MORE THAN 20,000 DOLLARS A YEAR AND I SAW FIRST HAND THE FRACTURING OF THE AMERICAN DREAM. I WANT TO TRY AND PAY IT FORWARD, I WANT TO TRY TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE AND TRY AND USE THE PLATFORM OF STARBUCKS AND THE SCALE OS STARBUCKS TO MAKE A POSITIVE DIFFERENCE.

REPORTER: BACK AT YOUTH BUILD, JACOB IS FINISHING UP THE FOR THE DAY. THANKS TO HIS NEW MENTORS HE’S GOT A SOLID FOUNDATION BUT HE KNOWS THE ROAD AHEAD IS TOUGH HE ALSO KNOWS HE’S BUILT TOUGHER.

JACOB MURIETTA: WHAT CHANGED IN ME, WAS ACTUALLY GETTING AN EXTRA STEP. THE MOTIVATION, KNOWING THAT I CAN ACTUALLY ACHIEVE SOMETHING KNOWING THAT THERE IS SOMETHING BETTER IN ME.

JOSE CARDENAS: FOR MORE INFORMATION ON ACYR VISIT THEIR WEBSITE. ACYRAZ.ORG.

A report in 2010 found that Phoenix led the nation in cities with “disconnected youth;” individuals ages 16 to 24 who were not in school and not working.

Since then, different organizations have risen to the challenge to reconnect the city’s 100,000 youth with a path to success. Thanks to groups like Youth Build, the number of disconnected youth has dropped 27 percent. This report is part of an ongoing PBS series on poverty and opportunity, “Chasing the Dream.”

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