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By Helen Silvis of The Skanner News
Published: 05 December 2012

Michael Alexander, President and CEO of the Urban League of Portland says Intel has helped refurbish five computers  to help jobseekers access the Internet and develop resumes

If you are looking for work, developing your resume, searching job listings or trying to figure out your career path, the Urban League of Portland can help. Through a partnership with Intel, the league has expanded its workforce resource room, and now offers five computer stations, as well as books and other resources for jobseekers.

Michael Alexander, the nonprofit's new President and CEO, says he landed his own first two jobs with help from the Urban League. Nobody should feel shy about going in and asking staff to show them to the resource room.

"We want folks to know that this is a community utility," Alexander said. "We pride ourselves that folks can walk in through this door and feel very comfortable and welcome. It's a very casual environment."

Located at the Urban League of Portland's headquarters at 10 North Russell St. the resource room is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m. Jobseekers can update resumes, browse help wanted ads and access Internet resources in a friendly environment. And there is no time limit.

Urban League of Portland staff members are on hand to help jobseekers with everything from improving a resume to identifying career opportunities. So whether you are a teen looking for a vacation job, or an adult looking for a ladder to a career, simply walk right in to start your search. People with barriers to employment, such as disability or a past felony conviction, are especially welcome, he says.

Alexander says he is highly aware of the challenges that face all jobseekers, but especially young people, and Black men. Economic empowerment is a priority for the Urban League, he says, and employment assistance is a key service.

"We live in challenging times," he said. "The unemployment rate across the state is of grave concern to all Oregonians, and at any one time it is anything from 9.1 to 9.4 percent… For African Americans across the state, it's 21 percent. When we begin to look at African American males from 18-30, we're looking at closer to 30 percent. I mean, we would have a parade if our unemployment rate was 9.1 percent. It would be wonderful."

Alexander said unless more is done to create equity in education, training and opportunities, that disparity will only increase. He hopes businesses and employers will partner with the League to help expand opportunities across the region.

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