Community Discusses New Strategies to Fight Poverty in Central V - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Community Discusses New Strategies to Fight Poverty in Central VA

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Susan Erno Susan Erno

A community discussion sheds light on new strategies to fight poverty in central Virginia.

Democratic Party leaders in Charlottesville and Albemarle County hosted a panel on poverty Saturday morning. They're inviting all members of the community to put aside political differences to take a closer look at the problem.

The panel featured speakers from organizations that each addressed a different aspect of the poverty problem and presented unique solutions.

Susan Erno works at the Adult Learning Center in Charlottesville. The center started a new course this year that allows students, who may not have a high school or college degree, to gain technical certifications and connections with employers.

“The students in this program go through an intensive six month course, which includes adult basic skills, computer technology skills, an industry certification, and nine college credits,” Erno said. “They end up career ready and go into sustainable jobs.”

The program, called Plugged-In, started in January. Three students have already found jobs.

“The eight students enrolled in this program said were it not for Plugged-In, they would not be taking college classes, they would not be thinking of a career as opposed to getting a job.”

Stephen Davis works with the Community Investment Collaborative that helps turn business ideas into realities for aspiring entrepreneurs.

“Our mission is to help under-resourced entrepreneurs either create or expand small businesses, and we do it through education, mentoring, micro-lending, and networking,” Davis said.

His organization makes sure people who are ready for employment can find a place to work.

“To address poverty, you need jobs, you need more businesses hiring, so what we try to do is create more businesses.”

Erno says it's the combination of both services, like pieces in a puzzle that help reduce the poverty problem in central Virginia.

“The way out of poverty is education and employment, and people need a little bit of help with that,” she said.

The Charlottesville Works Initiative says 24 percent of Charlottesville families do not make enough to live without public assistance.

Sunday's talk was part of a series of monthly community meetings hosted by the Albemarle County Democratic Party, addressing a range of topics.

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