District Youth Learn Fashion Through the Jarmal Harris Project

by: Mark Arrowsmith Special to the AFRO
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Washington, D.C. native Jarmal Harris created the Jarmal Harris Project, because he always had an eye for fashion, production and encouraging others. The project is a nonprofit organization providing learning opportunities for D.C. youth to expand their professional skills in several fields. Harris created the project in 2006 to give inner city youth an opportunity to gain skills that will help them achieve in life.

Washington, D.C. native Jarmal Harris (Courtesy Photo)

“My goal was to give these kids insight and fashion and give them a sense of accomplishment. I wanted to show them that hard work pays off,” Harris, founder of The Jarmal Harris Project, told the AFRO.

During the six-week program, the program offers six courses – hospitality, fashion design, fashion styling, theatre, dance, and marketing – to students ranging in ages from 14 to 24 years old. The program also offers career development, help with email skills, help with interviewing skills. At the end of the summer everyone leaves with a full resume.

“Even though we don’t know each other, we get together as a family and we learn different skills from different people, and we take away from that and that helps us later on in life,” Michala Mackey, a student in the program, told the AFRO.

Once the six-week program is over, students host a fashion show to present what they worked on during the program. The program’s 11th annual fashion show is scheduled to be held on Aug. 5 at the Sphinx Center in Downtown D.C.

“It’s good to have them understand how to create a resume, how to walk into an interview, key words to say and how to structure it,” Greg Dubose, program manager, told the AFRO.

The funding for this program comes from D.C. Summer Youth Employment Services. All 160 participants receive a stipend for participation. The stipends are broken up into three separate categories. Youth ages 14-15, who work 20 hours per week are paid $5.25 per hour, youth ages 16-20 work 25 hours per week and are paid $7.25 per hour and young adults who are 21-24 years old work for 30 hours per week and are paid $9.25 per hour.

“Getting them at a young age is great because when can help them develop, give them more options and opportunities in regards to careers, said DuBose. “It will allow them to put back into the community from the skills they are learning here.”

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