“If we can expose more young people to the business sector, we can inspire more people to be entrepreneurs.”-Jose Corona
Jose Corona, the CEO of Inner City Advisors (ICA), a non-profit serving the entire Bay Area, strives to create locally-based jobs. From an early age Jose had a passion for entrepreneurship. His father, a strawberry grower in Watsonville, CA, demonstrated the importance of community-based businesses as a tool to aid the local economy. Before venturing into non-profit work, Jose worked in the corporate world for several years, learning operation and management skills. Marrying practical business skills and a passion for community development, Jose joined Inner City Advisors in 2004.
By providing entrepreneurship education, management consulting and advisory services, and capital investment into socially responsible entrepreneurs, ICA seeks to aid companies in their efforts to employ populations with higher barriers to employment. Jose explains, “by higher barriers to employment, we mean, lower educational attainment levels, English as a second language learners, formally incarcerated and aged-out foster youth. We try to connect them to the right workforce partners.” ICA’s mission mandates that they take on companies that are in the position to create a substantial number of jobs. Jose adds, “they have to have a social responsibility component to their business model. So it can either be environmental or it could be through supporting education. It has to be a core value or their business model. It can’t be something that all the sudden they instituted a recycling program and all the sudden they’re green and responsible. It has to be core, as part of their core model. So it has to be from deep down in their values.”
ICA works primarily with companies, but over the past couple of years, they’ve found that they need to be more intentional with their companies, specifically connecting them to the workforce. “Companies are coming back to us and asking, ‘Well we want to hire, from the populations you care about. Can you help us get to those populations?” Jose sees where ICA has grown in the last few years and where it would like to extend its reach in the future. “We’ve started to think about how ICA can be more thoughtful and really create some strategic alliances with some existing work force development partners. So we don’t have to create another workforce development program, but work with ones that are working out there; connecting their populations and their clients with the jobs that are being created through our companies.”
Jose sees the importance in engaging and working with young people, specifically those living in moderate to low-income households and emancipated youth. “I think for me personally, and as an organization, I think it’s critical that we engage youth in the work force. The whole discussion right now around job creation, there’s a lot of rhetoric about it, and it typically focuses on the adult that are unemployed and don’t have jobs. Too often, I think especially now, the youths are often overlooked as part of that unemployment figure. They focus on the adults that don’t have jobs or they lost jobs, but what about the youth that are up-in-coming and are going to be that next generation of work force with the jobs that we’re creating? For us it has become a critical population. How do we work with not only our companies, but with ICA ourselves to provide these job opportunities for the youth…from high school, undergrad, to grad school students to become engaged in projects or internships with ICA, and engage our companies to actually invest in the youth?” One means is through strong community outreach.
Jose believes the missions of ICA and KQED are the same, “KQED is hugely inline with our mission. [KQED adds] value to communities through information, [and by] educating communities. We try to do the same thing. We try to educate our companies on how to be better, more active and committed community members.” KQED caters to an audience that might not know about ICA, but cares about solving the same issues they do.
If you’re interested in getting involved with ICA please visit: http://innercityadvisors.org/