A. My Brother’s Workshop (MBW), founded in 2007, is a non-profit organization whose vision is to end youth crime and violence in the USVI. With a holistic approach, MBW brings hope through mentoring, counseling, education, on-the-job training, and job placement, to at-risk and high-high youth. What started with 4 young people, MBW has grown into an organization that sees over 150 trainees per year, both male and female, ages 16-24. It is because of such faithful supporters and its local subsidiaries that this critical work can continue and can grow to reach more youth in the USVI and help rebuild our paradise, we call home.
A. We began in 2007 with just our St. Thomas Workshop, and have since expanded to open our cafe and bakery, our engineering research and development, marine, and alternative school. Trainees are placed in a position in one of these programs and are paid stipends and hourly wage. They are required to report to work at their scheduled times and for most of our trainees, this is their first opportunity to accept and maintain a job of this caliber.
A. Many of our trainees start with us with no positive leaders or role models in their lives. They have a hard time trusting adults and even making eye contact and having conversations can be a challenge. As trusted relationships within MBW grow, the change in the trainees is noticeable by all. Giving the trainees a safe space and options that they didn’t even know existed changes their outlook and perspective. Social skills, eye contact, level of respect and politefulness all improve immensely.
A. The USVI has a less-educated workforce with 30% of our population without a highschool diploma, high crime rate-per capita (we’d rank 5th in world if we were our own country) 46% raised in single parent households, over 40% of 3rd graders read below grade level and nearly half of 11th graders lack proficiency in math. There are many factors that lead to a child dropping out of school and going down the wrong path; abuse in the home, drug use, a need to earn money for their family, pregnancy and joining gangs lead to many of the dropouts and other behavior issues in the Virgin Islands.
A. Our trainees are hopeful youth between the ages of 16 and 24. 75% of our trainees do NOT have a high school diploma when they begin with MBW, 60% of trainees were previously involved in juvenile justice programs, 35% of trainees were previously gang involved, and 65% of MBW trainees have either a physical disability or learning disability. Several of our trainees have gun shot wounds, and all of our students have experienced childhood trauma ranging from seeing and having loved ones murdered to physical abuse and emotional abuse. About 10% of our trainees are homeless when they first come to MBW.
A. MBW receives referrals for over 40 different agencies, but individuals may apply through our main office as well. The more obstacles in a young person’s life, the more they need to be in our program.
A. A social enterprise is an organization that uses a skill or strategy to improve the wellbeing of individuals and communities instead of just for profit. We have created vocational training facilities that operate as social enterprises as our teaching model. The revenue from the products sold from these facilities go right back into the stability of the MBW program.
MBW Social Enterprises:
A. We have a success rate of 70-80% that complete our program and graduate, which for us means you either obtain employment, further your education, or enroll in military. We have worked with over 1,200 youth in the USVI. We also work with volunteers and have over 132,000 hours of community service projects to our local communities. We now have an alternative school where if you have NOT received your high school diploma, you are required to do that as well. We also save taxpayers millions of dollars by helping steer the course of a young person. We take an individual that if incarcerated or unemployed would cost the community $5 million in the course of his or her life with all the social programs needed for this individual, and we turn them into being employed and receiving their high school diploma and they in fact become tax payers and positive community members. MBW is helping our youth realize a better path, to further their education, and ultimately change their lives. This is a matter of life and death. Sadly, we have buried 24 youth, several who were on the waiting list.
A. MBW cannot be successful without the continued support of our donors, volunteers and community. All donations made will directly fund all programs here at MBW. Your kindness and generosity is helping change our VI youth’s lives!
A. Our organization has many volunteers throughout the community. We are always seeking individuals who are wanting to use their skills and talents to help us in our mission to transform the lives of these wonderful youth. Please fill out our contact us form with a brief description of what you would like to do and your availability and we will contact you soon.