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AAMA Work and Learn Centre


AAMA's Work & Learn Centre empowers disconnected youth to achieve their potential

AAMA's Work & Learn Centre empowers disconnected youth to achieve their potential 

Youth unemployment is a pressing problem in Houston (TX), with nearly one in seven young adults between 16 to 24 years old who are neither employed nor in education or training (NEETs).

The Latino community is particularly affected, with 17% of Latino Houstonian youth classed as NEETs and 50% of adults with incomplete high school studies. To address this issue, the Trafigura Foundation joined forces with the Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans (AAMA), an institution with over 48 years of experience in the education and training of disadvantaged Latin American communities in Texas.

Building on a successful intervention model that was first co-created by the Trafigura Foundation in Stamford (CT), and subsequently, replicated and refined in New Orleans (LA), we partnered with AAMA to pilot a third Work & Learn Center (WLC) in Houston. The WLC model aims to empower disconnected youth through a programme blending hard and soft skills training and offering practical opportunities for learning and work experience.

Through small “Work and Learn” enterprises, such as a graphic design studio, youth have access to on-the-job training and can build their professional skills before advancing onto new opportunities in employment, education or training. The benefits are twofold: on the one hand, youth gain invaluable work experience to build their competencies and inspire new interests, and on the other hand, revenues generated by the small enterprises can contribute towards making training itself more sustainable.

With the Trafigura Foundation’s support, AAMA will roll-out an 8-week career readiness and graphic design programme to empower more than 100 NEET youth with the skills and confidence they need to advance in life, aiming to transition at least 50% of them into employment and a further 20% into further education opportunities.

Our support to AAMA’s Work & Learn Centre also aims to propel its newly founded Graphic Design Youth Enterprise, helping it to grow as a fully functional, market-driven business and offering its services to at least 20 new clients.

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Read the story of Nestor, AAMA’s programme participant

Nestor, who is 22 years old, came to the W&LC via a friend’s recommendation. Prior to joining the programme, he was struggling to find a job. While receiving the training at the WLC, Nestor increased his self-confidence and displayed great leadership amongst his peers.

He successfully completed the programme and went on to a paid internship at Human Age Digital, a digital enterprise that helps mission-driven organizations organise political campaigns and discover new supporters. Furthermore, thanks to the skills he has acquired in the programme, Nestor created a YouTube channel for his father’s business. More recently, he secured a job with Amazon getting paid $15 per hour. Nestor says that the W&LC has given him confidence to engage with new people and has opened doors that he never knew were there.


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