Ujamaa means “familyhood” and “cooperative economics” in Swahili. At Ujamaa Place, its meaning refers to a brotherhood that takes care of one another through programming that stabilizes and transforms the lives of the most marginalized population in society, African American men, aged 18-30.
A Ujamaa Man is a contributing member of a brotherhood of African American men, aged 18-30, enrolled into the Theory of Transformation™. Men who walk through the doors of Ujamaa Place have suffered from chronic bouts of homelessness, unemployment, addiction, connection to the criminal justice system and trauma from living life on the streets. As a result, the men experienced interruptions in their education and are academically performing at a 4-8th grade education level when they enroll in Ujamaa Place. Enrolling into the program model, the Theory of Transformation™ (ToT) journey begins with stabilization services by assigning each man to a high- context coach. Initial mentoring and coaching sessions result in a transformation plan that gives the men access to 37 support services at no charge, used to support reaching their goals outlined in their Individual Transformation Plan (ITP.)
Ujamaa Place serves a population of extreme disadvantage living in extreme poverty concentrated areas where over 40% of the population lives below the federal poverty guidelines. Ujamaa Place draws a straight line from level of education attained to homelessness. Poverty is the root cause of increased crime in communities served by Ujamaa Place. Homelessness and joblessness is the result of education disengagement. Ujamaa Place knows that living wage is over $18.00 for basic needs for a Ujamaa Man who is taking care of at least one child. Based on these factors, Ujamaa Men have a high involvement rate with the Criminal Justice system. Half of its population is employed at minimum wage and homeless. Ujamaa Place, in 10 years of service to marginalized men, 18-30, understands that transformation is not sustainable unless you are providing all the wraparound services that help to reverse the systemic trauma of being born into generations of poverty and inequality.
Enrollment in the Theory of Transformation™ is a voluntary commitment to participate in stabilization programming starting with foundational elements that are rooted into African American culture. Ujamaa Men interact with determinants of self-transformation that follow a pathway of academic and employment skill and life skills development leading to ultimate outcomes that are produced as a result of the Ujamaa Place experience. All men attend an information session to learn about the program commitment, meet the coaches in-person to understand the commitment they are making.
Transformation is unique to each man enrolled and depends on the needs required to stabilize each participant. There are many factors that dictate transformation that includes the key pillars: Housing, Employment, Education and Health & Wellness. Ujamaa Men have at least one child they are responsible for, therefore, transformation benefits extend to their family and community.
The community can support Ujamaa men through donations and support services provided i.e. mentoring, tutoring, childcare and providing second chances through employment and housing partnerships. Learn more about Ujamaa at: ujamaaplace.org.
According to a recent ROI report by The Constellation Fund, for every $1 invested in Ujamaa Place, the program generates a $4.92 return.
This return comes from approximately $1 million in increased wages that 275 participants in 2018 and 148 in 2019 would earn in the three years after finishing the program. Returns also come from mental health referrals and assistance achieving GEDs. The cost of generating these additional earnings, health and education benefits is $2.2 million. Based on existing evidence, we assume that employment training programs impact future earnings as far as three years after participation. All earnings are estimated accounting for employment and wage rates of sub-populations served by the program (e.g. previously incarcerated, disability, and race). Estimates also account for expected or observed duration of employment and hours worked. Benefits are also derived from mental health care services and educational programming leading to increased earnings and improved health.
With your help, Ujamaa Place provides programming within a community environment that assists men with mental and chemical health wellness, achieving stable housing, re-engaging with their families, attaining work and life skills essential to self-sufficiency, with a strong focus on education, work-entry programming, specific skills training, employment retention and personal financial management.