Giving Teens Skills to Succeed

Some youth have no idea how to interview for a job, manage money, apply for college scholarships and more. But not the teens Community Sustainability Enterprise impacts. This Lawrenceville-based nonprofit has successfully created private partnerships inside many local schools, allowing them to coach and teach teens so they can “develop tomorrow’s workforce and business owners today”.

“Our whole mission and focus is to support youth and their families to build and sustain thriving personal economies that spill over into the next generation and their communities, through CSE’s Cross Collaborative Community Development program model ,” said CSE Founder and President Deirdra Cox. “For example, we’ve partnered with local banks to put branches inside of two local high schools, which is critical because it’s not just enough to teach financial literacy anymore. Youth must be given the opportunity to exercise their new financial knowledge with financial products and services, which our students do because they are eligible to open savings and checking accounts in the school-based branches. We also give them access to financial coaches and teach them how to manage their money. We’re also launching a small business platform with one of our collaborative partners, who will be working with parents to identify their gifts and skills so they can literally build sustainable businesses that support their families and provide employment within their communities. Next level entrepreneurial growth for many of our parents is to become a women-owned or minority-certified businesses through the entrepreneurial pathway that we’ve developed with our third party collaborative partner.”

Over the years, CSE has:

  • Developed the first school-based Public Private Partnership platform in Gwinnett County College and Career Academies, which resulted in 2 in school financial services branches, where students work as paid interns.
  • Provided financial literacy training to 10,000 parents and students.
  • Engaged private sector partners in 3820 hours of volunteer service time in College and Career Academies
  • Coordinated and facilitated Workforce Development Soft Skills training for 7,700 youth and adults, that resulted in 100% program completion
  • Developed a National Cross Collaborative Community Development program platform

In 2018, CSE became a fundholder at the Community Foundation.

“I first became aware of the Community Foundation during my tenure as Community Development Officer for BrandBank. I worked closely with the Community Foundation to track BrandBank and BrandMortgage’s annual donations to Gwinnett based nonprofit organizations, for CRA (Community Reinvestment Act) purposes” Deirdra said. “I think the work the Community Foundation is doing in the community is critical because they are the eyes and ears of our philanthropic community. They do a great job of vetting nonprofits and providing professional development opportunities for nonprofits and fundholders alike.

“For us, becoming a nonprofit fundholder was a connection we needed to make. We know the Community Foundation is making sound investments and is focused on the sustainability of their organizational partners – and we want to be associated with like-minded organizations. The Community Foundation is a viable source for networking and growth oriented resource assistance. At CSE, we say, your network is your net worth. We are grateful to be connected to such a rich pool of community resources ”

To help connect CSE with the Community Foundation, Greg Shumate, CEO and managing partner of BrandMortgage, provided the funds that allowed CSE to become a nonprofit fundholder.

“We’re very grateful for Greg’s support of CSE over the years, and his generosity in enabling us to become a nonprofit fundholder,” Deirdra said.

For CSE, cross collaborative partnerships and donations, along with volunteer engagement, are crucial to transforming the hearts, heads and habits of our families and their communities.

“In addition to program funding and cross collaborative partnerships, our greatest need is the intentional engagement of corporate volunteers, in the areas of resume writing, mock interviews, dress for success, financial literacy and capability training, youth and adult job shadow days, business plan coaching and youth and adult mentorships,” Deirdra said. “Our families thrive when they are given the opportunity to be exposed to and experience life on a level they never thought possible, through their personal and professional growth in connection with our cross collaborative partners”.

To find out more about CSE, visit www.communityse.org.

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