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DALLAS (CBS11) – Tapping into the potential of Dallas’ disconnected youth.
A unique job fair held at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Friday called 100k Opportunities, offered both resources and jobs to help get more young people out of limbo and into the workforce.
And it definitely had a different, more positive vibe. There was even a drumline appearance by DISD’s Townview Magnet.
“Honestly, this is crazy!” exclaimed Marquez Johnson–in the language of the targeted 16-24 year old participants. (If you’re not a millennial– ‘crazy’ means very, very good). “I am going to get a job today, yes ma’am, yes ma’am.”
Johnson says he has known the discrimination in Dallas delivered via zip code. He grew up in a single parent home in West Dallas. Now, he’s majoring in business at Texas A&M.
“I’m trying to show kids from Pinkston–where I went–that you don’t have to be a stereotype! And even with those stereotypes, you can break that barrier and you can make a new stereotype that says, you will excel.”
The young man’s message mirrors the mission of the 100k Opportunities event.
“This is not charity,” insists John Kelly with Starbucks, “this is business.” Starbucks is just one of the corporate sponsors collaborating on what has become a national effort to connect with disconnected youth.
“We’re trying to change people’s mindset about these young people who are out of school and out of work,” said Kelly. “If given a chance, most of them will surprise you, they’ll be great employees, they’ll take advantage of these opportunities and they will make your business better.”
A full set of services accompanied the day long affair: from learning how to tie a tie, to polishing your look with the right cosmetics. Applicants could also build a resume and practice interviews to prepare for the real deal: closing the deal.
“I got a job!” exclaimed 18 year old Esmeralda Cervantes. Her very first. “I didn’t think that I would actually get a job– i thought it was just information!”
She starts on Monday.
“It went great! I stayed real poised, I was just myself and they loved me.”
And they also offered him a job.
“Yes, ma’am… it was definitely worth coming out here.”