Harambee has grown significantly over the years, enabling us to not only mentor more youth than ever through our summer program (90+ in 2010) but also to continue to work with up to 30 of those teens throughout the school year in our after-school program. The opportunity has become available in the last few years to work on the homes of elderly and disadvantaged neighborhood residents for free. In addition, these longtime community residents are able to build meaningful relationships with the youth who are rebuilding their homes.
For several weeks each summer, teens from several St. Louis neighborhoods come together to learn tuckpointing, teamwork, and a biblical work ethic. The young people are divided into several crews with 3 adult crew leaders to train and mentor them as they volunteer on the homes of others in the community. Harambee hires a temporary full-time staff of 15-20 adults each summer to help run the volunteer projects and mentor the youth. In addition, participants earn an educational stipend by attending life skills classes each day. All this is covered by funds raised from partnering individuals, corporations, and local government agencies. Information and applications for our annual summer program are available in the application section from the beginning of January each year until the deadline, February 28th. If you have any questions about youth participation or homeowner eligibility, please contact Aaron Jones at (314) 680-9241.
The purpose of the after-school program is to allow some of our summer participants to continue to learn the basic life skills needed to become responsible adults and grow and improve in both their personal and professional relationships. At the end of the summer program, the crew leaders evaluate the participants and make recommendations for those who are good candidates to receive further training throughout the school year. Only 30 participants are given this special opportunity each year, with many more students on the waiting list. The after-school program operates for a total of 24 weeks throughout the school year, divided into two 12-week sessions. The young people continue to improve their tuckpointing skills by working on the homes of community residents who are eligible for free work. During the winter months when it is too cold to tuckpoint, the youth provide basement grouting for homeowners and some even spend time indoors learning the art of bricklaying. As with the summer program, participants are given the opportunity to earn an educational stipend by attending weekly life skills courses. Topics covered in the Basic Life Skills Course: Owning and maintaining automobiles, banking, building good credit, understanding authority structures, dealing constructively with conflict, writing résumés and cover letters, interviewing, budgeting, living healthy lives, and stewardship of resources. There are no applications for the after-school program since participants are chosen by crew leaders and staff at the end of the summer program.