A partnership between the city of Portland and a local small business is creating career opportunities in the city's communities of color.
The city recently authorized a $40,000 grant to Champions Barbering Institute to help low-income students pay for their tuition.
The school, which was founded by Jamaal Lane and his wife Christina in 2016, had its first class of graduates this year.
Lane, who owns two barber shops in Portland, decided to open his own school because he found new hires were lacking basic skills.
"I was having newly licensed barbers coming into the shop, looking for work, and I just felt like they needed another level of education," Lane said.
The program focuses strictly on barbering, which sets it apart from many other schools that train students primarily to work in hair and nail salons.
Alfredo Rodriguez, who developed an interest in barbering in high school, recently decided to enroll at Champions.
"As soon as I came here, it showed me that this is really what I want to do," said Rodriguez. "I considered a lot of other schools, but none of them really gave me the feeling this school gave me."
According to the Bureau of Labor and Industries, the demand for skilled barbers is expected to grow over the next several years.
A trained barber can make roughly $40,000 a year or more, depending on his or her clientele.
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