Connecting communities with jobs
Aug 15, 2013
Cruz Hinojosa, Jr. was born in Houston and raised wherever his father’s career with the U.S. Air Force took the family. He returned years later to open his own locksmith business. In 1984, when Hinojosa’s business started to suffer along with the economy, he turned to SER-Jobs for Progress for help. Through an on-the-job training program, he learned the professional skills needed to work in an office environment. Hinojosa recently retired from a 23-year career with the City of Houston, where he worked as a civilian supervisor for the Police Department.
This is but one of many success stories. Started in 1965 by the League of United Latin America Citizens, the G.I. Forum and the Department of the Navy as a job bank for Hispanic veterans, SER-Jobs for Progress today offers a variety of workforce development programs – from assessment to placement – for diverse communities in need.
"We equip our clients with skills, tools and strategies that help them be empowered, make their own decisions and achieve whatever goals they’ve mutually agreed upon with their coach."
SER-Jobs for Progress
The organization has found success through its new service model, which focuses on individual strengths. “We equip our clients with skills, tools and strategies that help them be empowered, make their own decisions and achieve whatever goals they’ve mutually agreed upon with their coach,” said Nory Angel, Executive Director and CEO. It’s not about getting our clients a minimum wage job, she said, it’s about achieving self-sufficiency and long-term financial stability.
This model is what encouraged Bank of America to approach the nonprofit last summer with a specific request. The bank asked SER-Jobs for Progress to help them launch a program to provide summer jobs to low-income youth in the area, in partnership with the City of Houston’s Parks and Recreation Department. In two short weeks, the program placed 26 students in summer jobs. This year, the organization placed 50 students in internships with Parks and Recreation and local nonprofits, including theirs.
The organization’s relationship with the bank has grown as well. SER-Jobs for Progress was recently named a Neighborhood Builder, an award that comes with grant funding and leadership development. Bank of America Market Manager David Ruiz said this recognition came as no surprise. “We saw firsthand the type of work that they’re doing to prepare individuals for the workforce.”
The recognition has helped SER-Jobs for Progress to grow even more. “It definitely opened a lot of doors for us; it kind of gave us the stamp of approval that we are up-and-coming, that we’re providing services that are effective and have real reach in the community,” said Angel.