Social Capital Builders (SCB) is a subsidiary of DeJesus Solutions, LLC. Created in 2011, SCB developed in response to the declining labor force participation rate of young African-American males.  


Social capital is one of the greatest predictors of labor market involvement and success. A growing body of research points to the pivotal role social capital plays in providing young people with access to opportunities. 

Minority youth with poor social connections have lower rates of labor force participation and fewer opportunities to discover their own unique contribution to the world of work. Social Capital builds opportunities for economic success by exposing youth to specific career pathways, service opportunities, and skill requirements that they may have never realized.  Social Capital  “sparks” youth investments in education, skills training, and pursuing positive lifestyles through legitimization.  It’s so much easier to develop the motivation to get a credential when you know someone on the other side of the workforce who wants to help you put that credential to work. Without these real-life sparks, most young people may say, “why bother”. An examination of current labor market participation rates reveals this growing discontent: the share of 16- to 24-year-olds saying they didn’t want a job rose from an average 29.5 percent in 2000 to an average 39.4 percent over the first ten months of 2014. For black youth, the rates are worse.


Social Capital Builders realize that youth with strong connections to gainfully employed adults have greater information about job openings, requirements, and duties. People who are referred to positions through a connection have greater job satisfaction, earn more, and have longer job retention Moreover, when referred to a job; youth face fewer incidences of racial discrimination and stereotyping. Job offers through friends and family members had much higher acceptance rates – 81% – compared to 40% for newspapers and 60% for direct employer contact.


Unfortunately, many young people don’t have an abundance of gainfully employed friends or family members to help connect them to labor market success. Youth are lacking people who can help them access insider information about job openings, position requirements, and particular nuances of the workplace, as well as the behavioral characteristics of those who manage it.


Without these connections, youth are unable to identify the 60% of available jobs that are not listed in the newspapers or on-line. Many employment opportunities exist in what economist call “the hidden labor market."  Young people can’t prepare for or apply to jobs they don’t know exist.


Perhaps, most importantly, low-connected youth do not have many people who can help them counteract many of the negative stereotypes held by employers about youth. Without someone to represent them as something more than what employers view on the local news, young people have an additional barrier to labor market success that very few of their more affluent peers possess. Subjective views of employers leave young people, especially those of color, on the outside of the mainstream economic window, looking in and trying to find the door.


And this oversight doesn’t just affect youth, it robs society of social capital. If labor market participation breeds a greater understanding of the cultural values of youth, in the broadest sense, then everyone is better off if youth secure a foothold. Given the recent turmoil in many major US cities, young people need to be connected and connected now.

Social Capital Builders is here to help you accomplish this task.





Edward DeJesus is the Founder and Lead Trainer at Social Capital Builders.  Edward is a W.K. Kellogg Foundation National Fellow and holds a M.S. in Management and Urban Policy Analysis from the New School for Social Research. He is the author of "Making Connections Work" and several other titles on youth success. His work has been featured on NPR and in The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, and The Miami Herald.

Edward served as a youth policy expert for the Sar Levitan Center for Youth Policy at Johns Hopkins University and served on the Taskforce on Employment Opportunities for young offenders for the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. He has also served as a consultant to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the National Education Association.



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.

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Contact us at: 

DeJesus Solutions

5457 Twin Knolls Road

Columbia, MD 21045


    ©2021 by Social Capital Builders.