Johnson Sheds Light on Community-Based Solutions to Poverty

WASHINGTON — Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) shed light on community-based solutions to ending poverty during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing that he chaired on Wednesday.

Committee members examined how community leaders across America are finding innovative nongovernmental solutions to address needs and provide opportunities for employment in their communities.

Robert Woodson, president of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise and author of “The Triumphs of Joseph: How Today’s Community Healers are Reviving Our Streets and Neighborhoods,”  said, “The more we can devolve government responsibility back to private charity, back to private institutions, the better we will do. We could go step by step through a number of these areas and look at reprivatization.”

Transportation, Woodson said, is a crucial part of helping poor communities, “similar to Pastor Jerome Smith, in the senator’s city of Milwaukee — this church is taking vans and taking people out where the jobs are. But also it’s a good serving of restoration.”

Woodson was referring to The Joseph Project — Wisconsin, an initiative of Greater Praise Church of God in Christ in Milwaukee in which the church identifies people ready for a “second chance” after personal difficulties, incarceration or extended joblessness. After a week-long class to teach the “soft skills” that help them in job interviews and in their beginning steps on the career ladder, the project connects them with employers in greater Sheboygan desperate to hire staff for well-paid manufacturing work. Johnson, whose staff helps provide training and connects employers with job-seekers as part of its constituent services role, noted that the program was named after and inspired by Woodson’s book.

Pastor Smith’s initiative, said Johnson, is “doing exactly what Robert Woodson is talking about.” Through it, Milwaukeeans are learning interview and life skills, “and they’re getting jobs, real careers.”  

VIDEO: Watch Chairman Johnson’s remarks here.

“It’s actually been so successful that the Sheboygan Economic Development Corporation donated two vans to provide the transportation,” Johnson said.

“It’s just an individual, community-based, faith-based program, helping people one person at a time.”

More about the Joseph Project – Wisconsin here: