Men and Women United for Youth and Families addressing unemployment with opportunity youth

Men and Women United for Youth and Families addressing unemployment with opportunity youth

March 14, 2024

By Kaitlyn Kornegay, Golden LEAF External Affairs Intern

In June 2020, the Golden LEAF Board of Directors approved funding for Men and Women United for Youth and Families for their work in addressing unemployment in marginalized communities within Columbus and Bladen counties. The organization was awarded $140,000 to grow the Communities Connected 4 Success program.

Men and Women United works with local community colleges, such as Cape Fear Community College, and workforce development boards to not only offer participants work, but to help them get proper certifications and degrees to help better their future. Men and Women United offers wrap-around services to support opportunity youth.

“We have connected participants with courses that meet their career goals, such as certifications like a CDL through Truck Driver Training programs or degrees in various areas like nursing and engineering,” said Randolph Keaton, Executive Director of Men and Women United for Youth and Families. “The main focus for this program is opportunity youth, who are young people between the ages of 16-24 who are not currently in school or working.”

Men and Women United for Youth and Families has served a total of 179 clients during the Golden LEAF funding period. Through this program, the organization has helped 60 of their clients secure jobs with liveable wages. Men and Women United has helped 41 complete a licensure course, and 19 earned third-party credentials.

Some of the credentials earned included the Truck Driver Training Program, and certificate program, Pharmacy Technician certification, Nursing Assistant 1 program and the Early Childhood Education program.

“When it comes to where participants of the program end up,” said Rev. Keith Graham of Men and Women United, “we have more rural partnerships since communities like Bladen and Columbus are in rural areas.”

Graham and Keaton want to improve their relationships with local government and other funding partners. 

“We are trying to have better relationships with our local government,” said Keaton. “Working with foundations like Golden LEAF helps us do that. We appreciate how Golden LEAF advocates for organizations like ours and others to give us a seat at the table. It’s always great when you have success, and it’s even better when the funders can say it’s a success.”

Keaton shared that because of the successful efforts in the Golden LEAF-funded project, Men and Women United has been acknowledged as a leader in the field of workforce development by the Columbus County Economic Development Commission. They were also selected to be one of 13 teams statewide to participate in Our State, Our Work program, which is a program that came from ncIMPACT’s Carolinas Across 100s initiative, added Keaton. 

To learn more about the workforce programs of Men and Women United for Youth and Families, visit

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