Operation Boost: New program to bring employment, education opportunities to underserved communities

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Neighbors living in underserved communities in Jacksonville could soon have more opportunities for employment and education.

It would come from a program called Operation Boost.

Action News Jax Courtney Cole explains how the program works and the last hurdle it has left before neighbors can reap the benefits.

James Coleman said he’s overcome some difficult situations in life.

But the unique part of his story is that he’s now on the opposite side of hard times. Coleman is the President of Workforce Industrial Training.

" [I] want to be able to provide educational training, employability training, for people that have gone through the same things that I have,” Coleman told Action News Jax.

He said Operation Boost is a platform that will give people the opportunity to be a positive influence in their community.

“A lot of times, people want to go to college and actually start college but they don’t have the wrap-around services. And that’s what this will provide: transportation, healthcare, childcare,” said Jacksonville City Council Vice President Sam Newby.

Newby is pushing for $200,000 to be allocated for the program. He would collaborate with Workforce Industrial Training and FSCJ.

“As soon as I heard about the program and the idea what they were trying to do, I was 100% wanting to be involved,” Coleman said.

FSCJ sent Cole this statement, via e-mail, about their participation in Operation Boost:

“If approved, Operation Boost will go a long way to support low-income and at-risk populations in pursuing higher education and ultimately receiving a high-wage job. In addition to the scholarship dollars, the student emergency assistance funding will help address the barriers that make it difficult to persist in higher education, including transportation and child care. For many, this support is the difference between staying unemployed or underemployed and pursuing a better life for their families.” - Dr. Avendano, President of FSCJ.

“You’re less likely to commit a crime, or to be a victim of a crime if you have a job to go to,” Newby said.

The $200,000 will be used for things including, but not limited to: free training for students, nationally recognized certification, scholarships for job placement.

The bill for $200,000 was approved in Finance and Rules committee meetings on Tuesday. It will now move forward for a final vote next Tuesday.