New Orleans, LA (PRWEB) February 22, 2014
New Orleans native, actor and movie producer, Ameer Baraka, is known nationally for appearing alongside Academy Award Winners, Kathy Bates and Jessica Lange, and playing opposite Oscar Nominee, Angela Bassett, as Ms. Basset’s love interest on Fox’s American Horror Story – Coven. He is better known locally for his work steering Louisiana’s and New Orleans’ at-risk youth away from lives of crime, drugs, and violence, as profiled by Oprah Winfrey in her “Blackboard Wars” episode about him.
Now, joining forces with Louisiana Juvenile Justice Association President, Glenn D. Holt, to take his youth advocacy efforts to the next level with an innovative job creation initiative, Baraka has teamed up with construction industry pioneer, Dianna “Iron Lady” Montague, the only woman in America who owns her own Iron Workers Union signatory, U.S. DOT certified bridge and industrial building construction company and performs steel installation work herself, to “Make streets safer by getting teens and young adults off the streets, and teaching them how to build bridges and highways.™”
To introduce at-risk youth to careers in transportation and other sector construction, engineering, business, and the construction skill trades, and to help them get jobs, Baraka has partnered with the experienced woman-owned bridge building and heavy highway construction contractor, Iron Lady Enterprises, Inc., (http://www.IronLadyEnterprises.com). At-risk high school students from Baraka’s Tulane University based program will be shown how they can participate in the multi-trillion dollar rebuilding of America's aging infrastructure. “With 77,000 structurally deficient bridges in the U.S., $100 billion in infrastructure improvements and super storm preparedness spending coming up in the Gulf States and the eastern seaboard alone over the next few years, and billions more in the pipeline for highway widening, airport expansions, levee reinforcement, refinery construction in the gulf, and the like around the country, the timing couldn’t be better to get behind this incredibly important way to create jobs, to hire veterans, to get kids and non-violent offenders off the streets and into careers, and to get the country’s infrastructure back up to standard.” exclaimed Baraka.
Baraka and the “Iron Lady” will launch their “From the Streets…to Our Highways™” initiative on Friday February 21,2014 by selecting two of Baraka’s high school students in New Orleans for an all expense paid trip to Susquehanna, PA where they will spend multiple days with the Iron Lady as she builds the Drinker’s Creek Bridge there for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. “I’m going to show these kids in real time what is involved in building a critical highway structure strong enough to support the weight of cars, trucks, and fully loaded tractor trailers. The mission is to inspire them to understand that by learning a vocational skill or by mastering a business or technical discipline or trade, they can participate in something bigger than themselves and can maximize their potential, contributing to society in a huge way instead of being a burden to society” added Ms. Montague.
Launching with a press event on the steps of the Hale Boggs Federal Building and Courthouse at 1:00PM on Friday February 21, 2014 (500 Poydras Street, New Orleans, LA 70130 ) the chosen students’ experiences will be chronicled on film by Mr. Baraka’s production company, Baraka Films, and new students will be identified and documented as the program expands to cities throughout the United States. “From the Streets…to Our Highways™” will connect with local trade unions, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Corps program, and other government and transportation sector stakeholders to expose, train, and help find construction industry employment for young people around the country. The general public can help expand the program to send kids to construction sites around the country by contributing to the project’s crowdfunding campaign at http://www.igg.me/at/FromTheStreetsToOurHighways. “What a great model for all of America.” noted Tulane University Professor,Dr. Peter Scharf EdD who works with Baraka’s students.
Iron Lady Enterprises, Inc. (http://www.IronLadyEnterprises.com) is the only company in America that is prequalified by the U.S. Department of Transportation to build bridges, and is headed by a woman who is a bona fide, card carrying Member of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental, and Reinforcing Iron Workers who performs reinforcing steel installation work herself. The company will use its access to a network of 150 Iron Workers Union training facilities throughout the country to put those willing to work through an immersion in the iron work trade, followed by access to apprenticeship programs for those who make the cut. “If able-bodied young women and men want to work hard and earn a good living, we stand ready to teach them how to do that” stated Ernesto Soto, New Orleans Iron Workers Local 846 Business Agent.
“I hear so many stories about inner city kids around the country, whether it’s in my native Philadelphia or in New Orleans, that I’m compelled to try to show them in the flesh that if I can make it, they can, too” stated Montague, Chairman & CEO of her eponymous firm. Ms. Montague is an alumnus of Strawberry Mansion High School in Philadelphia which was the subject of a recent multi-part ABC Nightly News and ABC News Nightline documentary. ABC Nightly News Anchor, Diane Sawyer, described Strawberry Mansion as “…the most violent high school in America.” “I have already met with the school’s Principal. The next group of kids we select will be from my alma mater, Strawberry Mansion High School” Ms. Montague added excitedly.
President Holt, Mr. Baraka, and Ms. Montague have the personal commitment necessary to help solve Louisiana’s, New Orleans’, and the country's transportation sector, building infrastructure, and criminal recidivism problems. “It’s so encouraging to see the commitment to the improvement of our transportation infrastructure, the strengthening of our coastlines against future storms, and anti-recidivism by leaders like Mr. Holt, Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, President Obama, and others. We can create the next generation of welders, iron workers, transportation engineers, designers, and city planners right here in the good ol’ USA!” remarked Montague, who sits on a steering committee for a $1 billion highway infrastructure project in her native Philadelphia, PA.
About Dianna “Iron Lady” Montague: Ms. Montague is the first African-American woman in history to become a member of the Philadelphia Iron Workers Union Local 405, and the first woman of any ethnicity to graduate from the Union’s apprenticeship program. Prior to joining the Union she spent more than twenty years building and welding ships for the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Navy at major naval installations throughout the continental U.S. and at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. She is a Master Welder, Rigger, and Rod Setter, and her company, Iron Lady Enterprises, Inc. (http://www.IronLadyEnterprises.com) is a Certified MBE/WBE/DBE construction contractor and a certified DBE Supplier of Rebar, an Other Construction Material Merchant Wholesaler, a Metal Service Center, and an Other Metal Merchant Wholesaler as DBE certified by the Louisiana Department of Transportation, the Orleans Levee Authority, the New Orleans Louis Armstrong Airport Authority, and a number of other certifying bodies throughout the country. Her company is currently bidding on several of the largest infrastructure projects in North America.
Email: IronLady@IronLadyEnterprises.com Twitter: @IronLadyEnt
About Ameer Baraka: Mr. Baraka is an acclaimed actor of television and film who has played a broad range of characters alongside a roster of Academy Award Winners and nominees, including, Forest Whitaker, Kathy Bates, Jessica Lange, Angela Bassett, and others. See: http://www.KingBaraka.com and Twitter: @ameerBaraka