The San Diego Urban Corps, a newly formed organization designed to provide jobs for unemployed San Diegans from 18 to 23 years old, introduced its first 25 inductees to the public Friday in a ceremony in Balboa Park.
Executive director Sam Duran said the goal of the corps is not just to provide jobs to young adults but to involve them more extensively "and more meaningfully" in the community as a whole. Duran said he hopes the corps will serve as a deterrent to drug abuse and lawlessness but added that it "is hardly limited to the underprivileged."
"We took in three homeless people," he said, "but is the corps open to a rich kid from La Jolla who needs a job? Certainly. We'll take people who have anything ranging from an eighth-grade education to a college degree. If, for some reason, they're stifled, maybe we can help them. We want these kids to learn the experience of the work ethic. We want them to know the experience of going to work at a certain hour and doing so clean and sober."
As a veteran with 12 years in the conservation field, Duran said he was hired by the board of directors with the aim of placing some in jobs related to conservation.
Duran said that $93,000 had been collected from individuals and charities as "start-up" money. He said the corps' headquarters are at 13th and Market streets downtown.
City Councilman Wes Pratt, a member of the corps' board, said, "Now we're able to put unemployed youth to work on conservation projects that benefit all San Diegans. This is truly an investment in our natural resource, the youth of San Diego."
Duran said none of the members has a job yet, "but we hope to be placing some real soon."