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A Special Report: Jobs : SOUTH : Training Youths in Legitimate Sales


Chilton Alphonse says kids who sell drugs are good business people who just need to learn how to use their sales skills for legitimate business deals.

"I'm tired of our children's lives getting torn apart when they are arrested," said Alphonse, executive director of the Community Youth Sports and Arts Foundation, a nonprofit resource center at 4828 Crenshaw Blvd. that works with inner-city kids. "There is the need to provide alternatives for young people selling drugs, to show them that the same principles they use to sell drugs can be used in many other areas."

Alphonse is spending $25,000 to start an entrepreneur-training program that will prepare 25 young people in retail sales management and provide on-the-job training.

The program, to begin in August, will offer workshops on how to "dress and talk in today's business world," according to Alphonse. It will also include guest speakers such as Bernard Kinsey, a co-chair of RLA, formerly Rebuild Los Angeles, who will speak about what it takes to succeed in business.

In addition to the entrepreneur program, the foundation is running a job and educational development program that helps teen-agers get their high school diplomas and offers job referrals. The program runs year-round.

"If you can't write, then you can't get a job. We are working on some of the very basic skills," Alphonse said.

The foundation, housed in a modest two-floor building, was started in 1985. Currently operating on an annual budget of $600,000, the foundation helps about 500 people each year, according to Alphonse.

While the foundation works primarily with 14- to 21-year-olds, Alphonse said, job referrals are available to anyone.

He said more must be done to train youths for jobs in a shrinking economy, not just place them in temporary jobs.

"We have to be really creative to help people move forward. It's more than just about jobs, it's about understanding that the world is changing." Information: (213) 294-8320.

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