As most of us familiar with international development projects know, ideas that are generated from the local population have a much higher chance of succeeding than those developed by
outside organizations. I recently toured East Cleveland with Mr. Johnnie Burton, a former resident of East Cleveland and the founder of the Bob Burton and (BBF), an organization created to teach mechanical skills to inner-city youth. In Northeast Ohio, there is a huge gap between the skills required for the manufacturing/technical sector and the skills of high school and college graduates. Tens of thousands of high-paying jobs go unfilled because of the lack of qualified candidates. Mr. Burton hopes to close this gap and, at the same time, reduce poverty, violence and crime in inner-city Cleveland. The man has “street cred” in that he is not only known and respected in the community, he is trusted. In his youth, Mr. Burton admits he may have even contributed to these problems. He is now committed to fixing them.
The problems of American inner cities are not unlike those of a developing country–poor education, poverty, high crime, corruption and the devastating effects of “brain drain.” In other words, the exodus of the rich and successful from the inner city. The results are the same – those with the financial/intellectual resources to rebuild simply leave and the community suffers.
It’s not an understatement to describe parts of East Cleveland as a war zone with empty and derelict homes and apartment blocks. The streets are full of potholes and many businesses have been closed down never to return. Americans may be shocked to see places like this exist in the United States.
DFI, an investigative and accounting services company dedicated to assisting NGOs and non- profit organizations, is proud to announce its partnership with Mr. Burton and the Foundation. A portion of DFI’s profits will continue to go to the Foundation and other worthwhile causes in both the United States and overseas.