Rubinger Fellow Juanita Woods is a community development practitioner and city council member in Monroe, LA who specializes in helping people skill up to take on living-wage jobs with local employers. She spoke with LISC about her fellowship project to provide apprenticeships for young people, the challenges of wealth-building in historically underserved communities, and the inspiration she gets from empowering youth on their life journeys.
As lawmakers in Providence confront a crisis in the state’s school system, LISC Rhode Island ED Jeanne Cola weighs in with an appeal to consider the comprehensive factors that contribute to students’ struggles, or successes—particularly housing. “As we look at bold ways to improve dismal test scores and address high absenteeism…now is the time to take a holistic approach and provide a consistent funding mechanism to add, or restore, stable and secure housing for Rhode Island residents,” she writes in an op-ed for The Providence Journal.
In Richmond, Virginia, 86 percent of students don't take part in after-school activities—in many cases because they have no way of getting there. Damon Jiggetts, executive director of the Peter Paul Development Center and a 2019 Rubinger Fellow, has devised a new kind of bus company that could change all that, connecting youth to the kind of enrichment every child deserves.
Helen Leung grew up in LA's Frogtown and understands well how the affordable housing crisis has torn at the social fabric of her city. As a 2019 Rubinger Fellow and co-director of LA-Más, she's helping pilot an accessory dwelling unit project that could go a long way to addressing the housing shortage and economic disparities in LA's low-income communities and beyond.
Few people in the world of community development got their start as early in life as Lahela Williams, a 2019 Rubinger Fellow who serves as the deputy director for Hawaiian Community Assets. Williams was barely a teen when she joined the board of her homestead association, a group that promoted safety, education and other quality-of-life issues for the Native community where she grew up on the island of O’ahu. That first job helped lay the foundation of a career dedicated to nurturing Hawaiian community leadership, as well as financial and personal empowerment for her fellow islanders.