A NY1 television exclusive: an interview with the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, Jamie Dimon, as the bank pledges millions of dollars to help prepare students in the South Bronx for today's workforce. Our Diane King Hall has the story.
JPMorgan Chase is making a $6 million dollar bet on the South Bronx.
Through its New Skills for Youth initiative, the firm is partnering with four organizations, and Alfred E. Smith High School is one of the newest hometown beneficiaries.
"It's very exciting for us because it gets the word out about CTE education throughout the city, and also highlights what we're doing in the South Bronx," said Evan Schwartz, the school's principal.
CTE is career and technical education. The fiscal commitment comes on the day that the Labor Department reported that the unemployment rate dropped to 4.4 percent, a 10-year low.
The U.S. economy is continuing to improve, but there are still potholes, and JPMorgan Chase is trying to fix those, one pothole at a time.
"I think there's almost nothing more important than jobs for society growing, for giving people opportunity, for getting them invested in our communities," said Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase.
"And so you're right: unemployment has fallen to 4.4 percent nationwide — I think just under 6 percent in the South Bronx — but that shouldn't stop us from saying, 'We seriously have to get kids jobs out of school,'" Dimon continued.
The idea is that the Bronx school prepares students for in-demand jobs. The transportation industry is one of its key focal points.
"I used to go to school across the street from Smith when I was a little girl — P.S.1 — and I remember walking by to school one day and the shop doors were open, and I saw a female fixing an engine, and I was like, 'That could be me," said Naomi Ortiz, a student at Alfred E. Smith High School.
But Smith, as it the school is affectionately known, was in danger of closing several years ago.
"I agree with the general concept that we've left too many people behind," Dimon said. "It's not just the Rust Belt; I've mentioned inner-city schools, people dropping out of the workforce, middle wages not going up, low-skilled wages not being enough for a living wage."
"And what are the solutions?" Dimon added. "So I think we should all be invested in improving our society."
Last year, Smith managed to be taken off the state failing list. The school hopes the donation will help lift their students up and out into the work force for years to come.