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Juma Ventures: One of Kaiser Permanente's Northern California Partnerships with East Bay Schools

Commissary Team

Juma Ventures is a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization designed as an innovative “social enterprise” with a mission of support ing urban youth in making successful transitions from high school to adulthood. Juma Ventures is one of the schools that Kaiser Permanente funded as part of its innovative programs for high schoolers considering health care fields.

To that end, Juma Ventures offers youth an integrated, multi-year program that involves work experience, college and career exploration/development services, financial education/savings for future plans, a life skills curriculum, and supportive adult relationships with Juma's staff as the glue that bonds all of these services together successfully.

The word “Juma” in Swahili means “work” and Assistant Director Sam Cobb says most of the kids come to Juma to find a job. “What we give them is a structure that helps develop their overall potential as a student, an employee, and a contributing member of the community,” says Cobb. More than 1,500 youth have moved on to post-secondary education and/or career-directed employment.

Youth Employees

Director Jim Schorr says that over the ten years of its existence Juma Ventures has evolved from a youth employment program, where they offered jobs in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shops, into a much more comprehensive youth development program. Employment in social enterprises is still at the heart of Juma’s program today, but Juma’s youth participants now participate in college and career advancement services, financial education and savings programs, and develop other life skills that support their transition to adulthood.

Each year, Juma Ventures employs and serves more than 300 low-income youth, ages 15-19, who face significant barriers to obtaining employment and realizing educational success and career advancement. These youth are recruited from high schools and other youth programs in the lowest income neighborhoods in the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area. Juma seeks to serve a diverse youth population, with about 90 percent of their current youth participants coming from a mix of ethnic minority backgrounds and about half from each gender. For virtually all of these youth, Juma’s program provides their first job and work experience.

Jim Schorr and Youth at Six Flags

Juma Ventures’ biggest challenge, like many nonprofits, is maintaining and growing its funding so they can provide services and serve more youth. Many foundations and corporations provide support only on a short-term basis, which makes it a constant challenge to find sustainable sources of financial support for their work. Schorr says in order to make a significant and sustained impact on our youth they need more funding partners that are willing to work as partners, over the long-term.

Schorr is continually motivated by Juma on every level. “I love working to develop a new type of ‘double bottom line ’ organization that combines the worlds of business and human services, and I love working with teenagers – the youth in our program are so full of potential and a lot of fun to be around ,” he says.

Release Date: September 28, 2005

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