The CornerStone Initiative was awarded $5,000 from the Vector Wealth Strategies Community Impact Fund in July 2015 and again in May 2018.
The CornerStone Initiative is a faith-based community development organization committed to empowering individuals in a specific community within Huntsville's 35805 zip-code. CornerStone focuses on the areas of employment, education and community enrichment in order to seek out and build up indigenous leadership. Their mission is to encourage relationships in this often forgotten neighborhood that awaken hope where there was once a sense of despair. CornerStone realizes that once hope is awakened, individuals are much more likely to take advantage of available opportunities that could change the trajectory of their lives.
"Our non-profit is not a direct service provider," Debbi Akers, executive director, said. "We don't have any money in our budget to provide services like rent and utility assistance or provide food and clothing distributions. There are excellent agencies in Huntsville already meeting these needs. Instead, CornerStone seeks to serve and empower a community in a way that leads its residents on a path to self sufficiency that is long-lasting and sustainable."
Akers stated that any efforts towards poverty alleviation must obviously include preparedness for and access to a good job. "There are many people in this community that are unemployed. However, there are many people in this community that work 40 hours a week, or more, and still struggle to provide for their family's basic needs. This is why the Jobs for Life Initiative has been a true success."
Since being awarded the grant from Vector, CornerStone has been able to host two semesters of classes that address the issues faced in unemployment or under-employment. JFL is an 8-week class that prepares individuals for resumes, interviews and a multitude of soft skills needed to be competitive in today's job market. There is a huge relational piece as each student is paired with a mentor who makes a one-year commitment to their "student" as they learn to navigate all of the issues surrounding today's job market.
CornerStone is thankful for the 2015 and 2018 grants as they enter into their third semester of JFL and continue to see members of their community enter the job market.
"We don't give anyone dignity," said Akers. "We simply get the privilege of having a front row seat to seeing dignity restored as individuals begin to come to the realization that God created them with a beautiful plan and that their lives have purpose."
To learn more about The CornerStone Initiative, please visit http://www.cornerstone-al.org.