MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland announced a new program designed to provide education and job training.
Mayor Strickland calls it the Public Service Corps.
“I think it’s like The Peace Corps with an educational requirement,” Strickland said.
The program will pay its members $12 an hour to clean up litter part-time as long as they’re pursuing a high school diploma, two year college degree or trade school certificate. In Tennessee, two years of community college is free.
“It puts a little bit of money in your pocket. You’re doing a real good service for the community picking up litter and you’re furthering your education to get a real career,” Strickland said.
The program provides an opportunity for young adults, aged 16 to 24, who aren’t in school and don’t have a job.
The corps is also open to reformed criminals who are currently part of the mayor’s re-entry programs like Manhood University and Women Offering Women Support, also known as WOW.
“It’s harder for them to get a job but if we can give them a skill, maybe that can open the doors that have been closed to them too often,” Strickland said.
The program will start in the next couple months with 25 members, but the mayor hopes to have hundreds of participants by 2022.
Josh Spickler is a criminal justice system reform advocate. He says the mayor’s plan can people who’ve made mistakes and need a second chance.
“Anything we can do to get people out of this cycle of poverty, out of a cycle of the criminal legal system and into jobs with sustainable living wages and benefits and things like that is great,” Spickler said.
Anyone who is interested in the corps can call 901-521-2836.