Ruben Anthony, president and CEO, Urban League of Greater Madison

In addition to offering entertainment, food and drink, the Urban League of Greater Madison will present the 2019 Whitney M. Young, Jr. Equal Opportunity Awards as well as the 2019 President’s awards at its annual Cabaret on Friday, Oct. 11 at 5:45 p.m.

The Cabaret will be emceed by WKOW 27 anchor George Smith. Cycropia Aerial Arts will perform and there will be spoken word from Dequandray White, a member of the 10th cohort of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s First Wave hip-hop learning community. Former American Idol finalists Foxxy and Megan Bobo will also perform.

The Urban League will use the event as an opportunity to raise funds for the services and programs it offers, particularly for communities of color. 

Most recently, the Urban League has started to use its space at the Southwest Madison Employment Center, 1233 McKenna Blvd., to hold science and technology classes for underemployed or unemployed participants. Exact Sciences, which partners with Urban League on the training project, has been hiring new employees who graduate from the program in an effort to diversify its workforce.

A 2017 study by the National Science Foundation found that African-American women hold just 2% of the jobs in science and engineering, while African-American men account for just 3% of the workforce in those fields.

“The most noted thing we have going on right now is our employment and training center that opened up a few weeks ago in partnership with the City of Madison which puts more people into sustainable wage jobs,” Urban League president and CEO Ruben Anthony said in an interview. “It is near Exact Sciences, which has over 700 job openings currently. Urban League is in a partnership with Exact Sciences and we have a cohort with them. They just hired 18 of the 19 people we had in our latest cohort.”

The Urban League also has relationships with Madison hospitals through a Department of Workforce Development grant it received to help employ people in various medical field jobs. 

“Right now we’re looking to advance young professionals in their careers,” Anthony said. “We have to start focusing on getting young people into the next level of jobs and not just entry level jobs.” 

The ability to help boost people beyond minimum wage employment will have an effect on housing issues around the city as well, according to Anthony. 

“Landlords are in the catbird seat right now and that’s not good for people of color and people living in poverty. We know that Madison has the worst disparities in homeownership for African Americans,” he said. “Nationally, home ownership for African-Americans is 45%. In Madison it is 17% and we’re looking to close that gap. We’ve got to do something about that.”

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