City funds sought

Published 1:05 am Saturday, January 14, 2012

The City of Washington is being asked to provide $50,000 to help fund Project New Hope, a program operated by the Purpose of God Annex.
Bishop Samuel Jones Jr., a founder and the CEO of Purpose of God Annex, made the request during the City Council’s meeting Monday. The council took the request under advisement.
The program works with local businesses to place those who have run afoul of the law in jobs. Jones and others working with him monitor program participants at their jobs to ensure they are succeeding. After six months, the participants graduate, if they meet all requirements imposed on them.
Project New Hope has faced funding problems in recent months.
During his presentation, Jones presented documents showing Project New Hope’s tentative budget for fiscal year 2012-2013 (which begins July 1) at $163,644.54. Of that amount, $110,240 is budgeted for staff salaries, with $12,424.04 budgeted for fringe benefits for staff.
The proposed budget allocates $12,531 for participant training, with $10,200 allocated for work experience, which is defined as going “toward wages (at $8.50 per hour for 40 hrs as week for six weeks) to give the employers an opportunity to see how well the participants work. Used as an employer’s incentive.” The proposed budget includes $5,000 for “other participant services” that include photo identification cards, drug testing, criminal background checks, tools and materials required for employment.
Of the $50,000 requested from the city, $37,440 would be spent on staff salaries and $4,219.49 spent on fringe benefits for staff members. The request seeks $8,000 for occupancy costs, defined as funds to pay for two classrooms, a computer lab and office space with Internet, telephone service and utilities.
Jones told the council Project New Hope has placed 660 people in jobs during the past four years, with half of those placed in the work force still in the work force. Jones said that 85 percent of the former criminals the program has retrained haven’t returned to crime.
Despite its success, Project New Hope’s future is in doubt. At the most-recent Project New Hope graduation ceremony in December, Jones said the program has been operating on “no money” since June 30, when its funding dried up.
“We are aggressively seeking other funding, so we are not just here asking you,” Jones said. “We have been seeking foundation money. We have been soliciting funds from other entities. We are asking you because we are putting taxpayers back in the city of Washington.”
Councilman Richard Brooks asked Jones if anyone has offered to help the project.
“We’ve had a lot of offers. We’ve had a lot of offers,” Jones replied. “When you talk about the type of money that we need, we’ll have some folks that will have to do some fish fries. … We need more than $1,000. We need more than $2,000, $5,000. We need some real money to keep this program running. We have approached foundations. Mother (Regina) Jones and her staff … are looking for state grants, and on the federal level as well, to find out what they have out there now.”
The council likely will consider Jones’ funding request when it begins its deliberations on the 2012-2013 fiscal year budget this spring.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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