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Legislative Bill

H.R.52 - Jobs, On-the-Job "Earn While You Learn" Training, and Apprenticeships for African-American Young Men Act

Introduced in House (01/03/2017)


Link to wording of legislation - https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/52/text

H. R. 52 - Purpose (summary)


To rebuild the Nation’s crumbling infrastructure, transportation systems, technology and computer networks, and energy distribution systems, by strongly and urgently requesting the immediate recruitment, employment, and on-the-job “earn as you learn” training of African-American young men ages 18 to 39, who are the hardest hit in terms of unemployment, with an unemployment rate of 41 percent nationally, and in some States and cities, especially inner cities, higher than 50 percent, which is a national crisis.


This bill directly reflects the NASW Ethical Value of social justice. There have been numerous reports about the disparity in employment opportunities for men of color; earning gaps are evident as well. This bill is an attempt to provide paid job training to increase employability skills while providing income for the man of color which would then impact the family of color.


According to the NASW (2017), “Social workers pursue social change, particularly with and on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people. Social workers' social change efforts are focused primarily on issues of poverty, unemployment, discrimination, and other forms of social injustice” (NASW, 2017). Discrimination effects hiring practices. Hiring practices effects employment. Being underemployed or not employed at all leads to poverty.  If this bill passes, it would help to remedy the aforementioned and bring economic relief to many who are living below the poverty lines.


In a recent report by Stanford’s Center on Poverty and Inequality, the condition of the black family’s living situation was brought to light. The report informed, “The employment rate for African American men has been 11 to 15 percentage points lower than that for whites in every month since January 2000. During the Great Recession, African American men’s employment rates fell further and recovered more slowly than did white men’s employment.” (Standford, 2017). The report went on to mention, “The employment rate for African American men has been 11 to 15 percentage points lower than that for whites in every month since January 2000. During the Great Recession, African American men’s employment rates fell further and recovered more slowly than did white men’s employment” (Standford, 2017). There is clearly a need for this bill to pass. I am hopeful that it will not be viewed as another affirmative action plan and treated like a hand-out because it is not. This bill will hold employers accountable for their actions or inaction as it related to the hiring practices of black men.


Works Cited


NASW Code of Ethics. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.socialworkers.org/About/Ethics/Code-of-Ethics/Code-of-Ethics-English


Standford University. (2017, June 17). Report finds significant racial and ethnic disparities - Stanford News. Retrieved from https://news.stanford.edu/2017/06/16/report-finds-significant-racial-ethnic-disparities/




Advocacy Video


September 2018

Senator Joni Ernst
111 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510 City

Dear Senator Ernst,

                I am writing to request your support for bill H.R.52 - Jobs, On-the-Job 'Earn While You Learn' Training, and Apprenticeships for African-American Young Men Act. If passed, this bill would provide greater assurance that men of color will be able to provide for themselves and their families which would eventually reduce the amount of government assistance these families need. Self-sufficiency is what this law would increase the chances of and it will create a way for all citizens to be a productive part of the communities in which they live in.

                According to the Sioux City Journal, Iowa is not doing the best job with eliminating racial disparities. “Iowa is in 47th place in racial progress and 45th in racial integration” (Sioux City Journal, 2018). This is not the profile that fits the heart of Iowans so, it should not be the narrative of our state. Passing this bill would begin the process of filling the gaps left by racial injustices such as racial profiling as it relates to employment.  More income would mean the possibility of purchasing a home or starting a business. It could also provide better means to take care of families which would produce healthier children who may not meet early ends. This bill is an answer to the question of equality in the workforce and an opportunity to level the economic ground in our nation.

                As you already know, this bill requires employers with high paying job openings to intentionally reach out to African-American males through recruiting. They would eventually be hired  and provided pay as they learn their job’s responsibilities. This would be a huge step in the right direction for Iowa and the nation if implemented. It will send the message that each citizen matters and their well-being is of the utmost importance.

                I appreciate the work that you currently do and I am confident that you will continue to be a voice for the people you serve. Thank you for listening.


Carmen Johnson, Resident of Des Moines, Iowa





My practicum work was completed with Bakari Inc., a behavioral health agency located in Des Moines, IA. During my time with Bakari, I provided BHIS (behavioral health intervention services), trained new staff and supported the agency by using the education I gained from my time at Briar Cliff University. The video below is my proposed change process for Bakari Inc.

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