Sasha Bruce

This evening, SBY’s Youth-Led Program will be honored by the DC Jobs with Justice Coalition at the 12th annual “I’ll Be There” awards for their ongoing advocacy work to improve the lives of young people in the District of Columbia.

Just last week, our Youth-Led team scored a major advocacy victory for returning citizens seeking employment in the District through their work to push the Fair Criminal Record Screening Act, also known as the “ban the box” bill, through the D.C. Council. The Act, which passed an initial vote on June 3rd, will prevent returning citizens from being screened out of employment on the basis of their criminal records before they have been offered a position. Only once they have been offered a position will employers be allowed to prevent them from employment based upon legitimate business concerns.

The passing of this Act represents a major step forward for all persons exiting the District’s justice system, as well as their families. Ban the box seeks to decrease hiring discrimination, reduce unemployment in the District, and will aid in the re-integration of returning citizens into the workforce. The bill will undergo a final vote within the next month, when language will be updated concerning how complainants can take recourse when they are discriminated against.

Youth-Led is a program designed to engage and empower students attending Sasha Bruce’s workforce programs and Ward 8’s Ballou Senior High School through mentorship, socio-emotional support, advocacy and other development opportunities. This year, the program’s youth leaders teamed up with Washington Interfaith Network and the DC Jobs Council to advocate for the ban the box initiative by providing testimony, meeting with council members, phone banking, orating speeches at rallies, speaking to media and recruiting coalition members.

On March 6th, a returning citizen and Youth-Led participant shared his experience with an audience of 550: “Most people don’t even give me a chance to interview. The lesson I learned…was even though people knew me and knew my work ethic that was not how I would be evaluated. This is not just banning a box on an application but this legislation makes sure that employers have good reason to deny you even after the interview.”

Youth-Led will receive its award tonight at 6 pm in the Samuel Gompers Room at the AFLCIO (for more information or to purchase a ticket, click here. Learn more about Youth-Led’s important work or email Program Manager Adam Angel.

To support Sasha Bruce in its mission to improve the lives of runaway, homeless, abused, neglected, and at-risk youth and their families in the D.C. area, please donate. or call (202) 675-9340.