Buffalo ReUse's Michael Gainer visited a training program on the East Side of Buffalo and asked the young men in the room the following questions:
“How many of you know an individual that has dropped out of school?” Everyone raised their hand. “Where will those people be in three years?” Their three responses? 1. In Jail. 2. Hustling drugs. 3. Dead.
Gainer feels that it is devastating that these are the options for our young men and women, and devastating that so little is being done to address this need. So, he and his co-workers are doing something about it.
Under Michael Gainer's leadership, Buffalo ReUse founded the ReBEL Corps to provide the necessary support, mentoring, and training to assist young adults in transitioning from their current situation to a technical training program, employment opportunity, or college. The ReBEL Corps is a vehicle for engaging young people in their neighborhoods, offering diverse skills training, imparting an ecological ethos, and developing a solid foundation of skills and experiences that will enable their future success as leaders, community members, entrepreneurs, and ecological stewards. The program capitalizes on a growing coalition of grassroots organizations in the City of Buffalo, a strengthening partnership between not-for-profit organizations and government, and an increasing consciousness regarding the value of greening our economy.
Young adults work on a crew of ten folks, supported by two crew leaders, and complete action oriented projects that improve neighborhoods, three days a week. Two days a week, they are engaged in community service activities, educational activities, and work to attain their GED and a work readiness credential. The hope is that after one year of participation, young adults will obtain the tools necessary to advance to a job, advanced training, or university opportunity. The program is currently under development with a launch anticipated this Fall. Buffalo ReUse piloted similar programs on a small scale in 2008 in collaboration with Catholic Charities and the Green Summer program.
This is part of the 5th report in a series from Buffalo ReUse, as follows: