When serving in vulnerable communities, there are no simple solutions because the issues these communities face are so complex and interrelated. Just as physical, social, emotional, and spiritual components need to be considered when seeking to help an individual flourish, there are also specific components that need to be considered when serving in a low income community. CornerStone has identified three specific areas where we feel called to equip and empower our community to flourish: Education, Employment, and Enrichment.
High School Diploma, GED Certification, Technical School, College, Specialized Certifications … are all key components to attaining stronger and more sustainable and rewarding employment. However, in the CornerStone focus area, 27% of the residents have less than a high school diploma and only 33% have obtained a diploma or GED. It is part of our mission to provide a variety of educational opportunities and support for our neighbors.
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With this awareness, what are we doing to address these problems?
Within our community, CornerStone seeks to collaborate as much as possible when it comes to supportive educational programs. For example, Huntsville Inner City Learning Center sits right in the middle our our focus areas and offers an amazing program that includes daily tutoring for children ages 5-13. We encourage all of our families to take advantage of this rich asset in our community.
CornerStone also seeks to partners with higher education programs such as those offered at Calhoun and Drake to bring GED classes, certification programs and degree options to our residents.
Regardless of educational attainment, there are other areas where “classes” are making a direct impact on our community. For example, our Jobs for Life Initiative offers a 32 hour class focusing on preparing people for sustainable work in meaningful places of employment. Mentors are a key component of the success of this class.
Another initiative is our Faith and Finances class that is set to begin Spring 2018. Faith and Finances is a financial literacy class that enables low to moderate income individuals set financial goals, know their credit scores, understand what their assets are, track their spending and begin saving. This “relationship based” learning style will prove to be an anchor of our educational initiatives.
Learn more about Faith and Finances.
Made in the image of God, we are created to work. At CornerStone, we believe in collaborating with the faith community, city government and local businesses to make our community stronger by helping people prepare for and find meaningful work. In a community where over 53% of the residents live below the poverty level, a strong focus on employment is a must.
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Through our Jobs for Life 8 week class, CornerStone partners with local churches to provide a place where the unemployed or under-employed find a community where they are challenged to become the best worker that God has create them to be. Career assessments, resume writing , interviewing skills,soft skills, etc, are all part of this Biblically based curriculum.
After successful completion of the Jobs for Life class, it is our goal to continue in that process and create opportunities for graduates to secure employment that brings them fulfillment while financially sustaining their families. For this very purpose, the Jobs For Life Business Network was formed.
This initiative is a network of individuals who use their sphere of influence to connect employers to potential employees. Sometimes a candidate just needs someone to CONSIDER their resume, regardless of limited experience or education, knowing that they are serious about work. The JFL Business network is committed to finding employers who will do just that.
CornerStone seeks to facilitate relationships that encourage people to seek God’s best for their own lives and for their community. Identifying and empowering indigenous leadership is central to sustainable change within a community.
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Neighborhood Conversations (or Community Meetings) held on a quarterly basis. One of the goals of these gatherings is to raise up community leaders who take ownership of the development and growth of their own street. These meetings are neighbor planned and neighbor hosted and led.
Neighbors get to know each other while working together to improve their community. There are currently efforts underway to establish better communication between neighbors through which information can be more easily shared.