SOCIAL CAPITAL BUILDERS
Who We Are
Social Capital Builders, Inc. (SCB) is the first and only organization focused on using the power of social capital literacy, analysis, and development to advance the lifelong economic and social well-being of youth and families. Social Capital Builders is a Black-founded and led non-profit organization dedicated to serving communities that have been severely impacted by racism, systemic inequities, and years of under and misrepresentation.
Why Social Capital Builders?
Social capital is one of the greatest predictors of labor market success. A growing body of research is now pointing to the pivotal role social capital plays in helping low-income populations connect to and excel in, the world of work. Yet despite the best efforts of workforce development agencies and educational systems, “low-connected” youth and adults are failing to secure gainful employment equal to their investments in education and job training. Research is questioning the impact of programs focused mainly on increasing skills and credentials without helping youth develop the social connections that could help put these achievements to work.
Social capital building creates the conditions necessary for young people's investment in developing skills and a mature work ethic. It spurs young peoples' motivation to invest in education, skills training, and credentialing by showing them that they have direct connections to relevant industry professionals who can assist them in putting their newfound achievements to work.
Furthermore, without adequate social capital, many young people don’t have the support to counteract negative impressions employers may hold for certain populations. When policies fail to address bias, discrimination, and racism, young people need opportunities to be represented beyond crime statistics and news reports. Without such opportunities, many youth face extreme hardship overcoming the systemic barriers that impede their economic life chances. Absent structured social capital building efforts between youth and potential employers, negative stereotypes of both youth and the workforce are validated, creating a negative feedback loop: the employer disregards minority and low-income populations as unfit for work, and mistrust of the employer prevents many capable youth from applying. Subjective views of employers and youth leave opportunity youth at a disadvantage and on the outside of the mainstream door of economic opportunity, not able to get in.
How We Work
Social Capital Builders works with a variety of organizational partners to bring its unique brand of experiential, asset-based social capital literacy, analysis, and development services to young people and their families. SCB provides intensive and engaging practicum-based training to organizations seeking to integrate a social capital framework into their current program design. A social capital framework recognizes that connections are a key determinant of financial and social wellness. In such a framework organizations creates policies, principles, and practices that help youth identify these connections and supports them in engaging and maintaining structured, measurable, and meaningful connections to a wide range of social capital assets, both within and outside of their community.
Our program partners receive intensive training and support from highly trained Social Capital Builders - SCB staff who work directly with staff and students in the social capital building process. Our services begin with social capital literacy training for youth, families, and staff followed by social capital analysis and development.
Social Capital Literacy
Through the SCB social capital literacy curriculum students, families and staff develop an understanding of the value of social capital and the ability to audit, access, build, maintain, manage, grow and effectively use various social capital building skills, tools, and strategies to improve lifelong financial and social well-being.
Social Capital Analysis
SCB teaches students and staff how to map opportunity networks and identify patterns of relationships and flows with people, groups, and organizations that can influence an individual’s economic life outcomes. The goal is to assist youth in developing “Opportunity Connection Plans” with qualified familial, developmental, and gateway social capital assets within and outside of their communities.
Social Capital Development
Through the Opportunity Connection Plans (OCPs), participants engage in the social capital building process with select assets over a period of time no less than six months using several pre-established methods, including the SCB Virtual Social Capital Hub Platform.
By the year 2024, provide social capital literacy, analysis, and development training to 1,000,000 opportunity youth throughout the United States.
By the year 2025, secure system-wide adoption of social capital literacy and development as a K-12 education and workforce development strategy.
By the year 2030, eliminate youth disconnection as we know it.
OUR FOUNDER AND LEAD TRAINER
Born and raised in the Bronx, NY, Edward DeJesus knows the power of social capital. As a young father in his teens, DeJesus had to decide to go to college or get a full-time rotating shift job paying $17,000 a year, which would make college attendance impossible. When telling a good friend about his predicament, he was advised, “Stop, wait a minute. Let me speak to my dad. I think you have another move.” Thanks to his best friend, and the social capital assets that DeJesus didn’t know he had, his best friend’s dad helped DeJesus forgo the rotating shift job and get a full-time evening job with the New York City Human Resources Administration working in homeless shelters earning $17,500 per year.
Thanks to the social capital that he didn’t know he had, DeJesus got a good job, graduated from college, and became the dad he always wanted to be. In 2011, DeJesus created Social Capital Builders to bring social capital literacy, analysis, and development to millions of youth and young adults.
As president of Social Capital Builders, DeJesus and his team will reach millions of young people with a similar message: “Wait, I know someone who can help. You have another move.” Through the power of social capital, SCB will connect hundreds of thousands of youth to the nebulae of networks where most careers are born.
DeJesus is a top researcher, speaker, administrator, and youth advocate. For more than 30 years, he has mixed his love for policy and practice by conducting research on effective programs that help youth acquire and maintain jobs.
DeJesus served as a youth policy expert for the Sar Levitan Center for Youth Policy at John Hopkins University and on the Task Force on Employment Opportunities for young offenders for the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. He has served as a consultant to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the U.S. Dept. of Labor, the Office of Job Corps, YouthBuild USA, the National Guard Challenge Program, and the National Education Association. DeJesus has large-scale, $3-million-plus youth initiatives in the South Bronx, Washington Heights section of New York City, and in Washington D.C., supervising more than 30 staff and serving up to 300 young adults.
DeJesus is a W.K. Kellogg Foundation National Fellow. He holds an M.S. degree in management and urban policy analysis from the New School for Social Research and a B.S. from Fordham University in the Bronx. A fellow of the Center for Strategic Urban Community Leadership at Rutgers University, he is the author of Making Connections Work and the best-selling youth book, MAKiN’ iT. His work has been featured on NPR, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, and The Miami Herald.
DeJesus is a strong advocate for youth in the justice and child welfare systems, often reflecting on the role of race and bias in limiting the economic and life opportunities of the youth he serves. Social capital saved his life, and now it's time to make sure it does the same for others who don’t even know it exists.
Elizabeth Speck is a Director and Lead Trainer with Social Capital Builders. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Development from Fielding Graduate University and an M.A. in Drama Therapy from New York University. She uses her unique background to create transformative adult learning experiences that translate to measurable business results and social impact. Elizabeth has led large-scale organizational and systemic change efforts as the Chief Learning Officer for the Workforce Professionals Training Institute in New York City, and as Senior Training Director for Safe Horizon, the nation’s largest victim assistance organization. Elizabeth’s doctoral research focused on the workforce entry and career advancement experiences of formerly incarcerated professionals.