By Jeffrey M. Conrad
A recent Buffalo News article highlighted the need for skilled workers in Buffalo’s growing economy. The article aptly stated that our educational institutions will play a critical role in preparing students for tomorrow’s job market. However, our next workforce is years from entering the job market. Industries such as health care, advanced manufacturing, construction and tourism are expanding now, creating an immediate need for trained and skilled workers. Workforce development can and should play a pivotal role in meeting today’s workforce needs.
The economic development boom we are experiencing translates into jobs, and for workforce development agencies this means opportunities. Often times the “next big job market” simply never arrives, thus wasting time and money. However, this time is different, the jobs are here and many more are on the way. There is no guessing game, thanks to the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council and Empire State Development, which developed regional priorities that will provide the Buffalo area with opportunities for high-paying jobs for years to come.
There is no doubt that our region will be able to fill some of these jobs through many of the 8,000 college students that graduate locally each year, or through displaced Buffalonians who want to return home. However, we cannot dismiss the fact that there is a large constituency of undereducated, less-skilled workers currently living in poverty in the City of Buffalo who can benefit tremendously from current job opportunities. A large majority of these residents want to enter or re-enter the workplace, and many more incumbent workers are hoping to make a transition to these higher-paying jobs.
However, many residents are not sure how to gain access to these sectors, nor do they know what services or trainings are available.
Disconnect between residents and stakeholders is just one of several barriers that prohibit job seekers from finding gainful employment. Transportation, low literacy and math skills, and no money for vocational training are additional obstacles for many wishing to advance. All of these barriers can be remedied if the NFTA, the private sector, adult education and workforce development agencies come to the table and build a system that works for our regional needs. Today’s economic boom is a chance for Buffalo to reinvent itself.
This is not just about filling jobs; there are much larger impacts both socially and governmentally attached to building an effective workforce development system. Buffalo’s poverty statistics are very concerning, but most should be alleviated by providing ample opportunity for all residents who want to benefit from today’s progress.
Jeffrey M. Conrad is regional director of the Center for Employment Opportunities.
The Buffalo Bills and the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County have extended an opportunity for for Bills fans to not only obtain discounted tickets for the Buffalo Bills vs. Cleveland Browns game on November 30, 2014 at 1:00pm but also to support the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO). A portion of every ticket purchased using the offer below will allow fans and supporters to deep discounts on tickets. CEO is very thankful to the Bills and the United Way for this opportunity! Please feel free to forward this to family, friends, and post on social media.
As always thank you for your support! Go Bills!Click here to buy: http://bit.ly/BuffaloBillsDiscount Offer code is GPUW
BY REBECCA K. O’CONNOR / THE COMMUNITY FOUNDATION
Published: Oct. 18, 2014 5:38 p.m.
Center for Employment Opportunities is a national organization that opened an office in San Bernardino last year, offering comprehensive employment services exclusively for people with criminal records.
Individuals returning to the community after being incarcerated often have challenges finding employment and reintegrating, and the center has been working to address this problem for more than 30 years. The New York-based nonprofit opened an office in San Bernardino in August 2013, working in partnership with the California State Reentry Initiative, San Bernardino Community College District and Caltrans.
While there are many services available for individuals with criminal records, the center provides employment and employment services. Participants take a weeklong course and then are given a work crew assignment, which helps them get used to a work routine and prepare for employment elsewhere. The center also offers clients support once they have secured a job for the next 365 days, encouraging monthly retention.
“Helping people return to the community and reestablishing stability creates pride and self-worth,” said Sarah Glenn-Leistikow, county director. “From a community perspective, it also improves economic stability.”
The center’s work crews, in partnership with Caltrans, perform roadside maintenance through litter abatement projects throughout the county. Currently, the San Bernardino office staffs two crews, with a goal of serving around 100 participants a year.
“We are a national organization, but we are very invested in our community, with creating partners, new relationships and collaboratives,” said Glenn-Leistikow. “We do a specific thing for a specific group of people, but it wouldn’t be possible without our other partners. We are looking to grow our partnerships, including work crew partnerships.”
According to Glenn-Leistikow, San Bernardino County has the second highest rate of people returning home from incarceration in the state. The organization offers its services countywide. While the center’s model is the same across the country and generally the programs are the same, working in San Bernardino County has its own challenges, the largest of which is the geographic expanse of the area.
“San Bernardino is one of the largest geographic counties in the country,” said Glenn-Leistikow. “There are real challenges to getting to work. It might take three hours on a bus. So managing meetings, classes and childcare as well as employment can become really prohibitive.”
Despite the challenges, in the year since the office opened, clients have had many successes.
“We had our first participant who made his 365-day mark,” said Glenn-Leistikow. “So he was placed and has been with the employer for over a year. He has a union job with benefits, which is a massive turnaround in that time period.”
Glenn-Leistikow also noted that some of the participants come into the program and earn the first pay check of their life.
“Having gainful employment makes people feel so much more positive about their lives. It also makes it less likely for them to return to the system,” she said.
Finding funding for programming has similar challenges to other nonprofit organizations. However, the center is slightly different, because close to 50 percent of the budget is met through contracts such as the current agreement with Caltrans. The center recently received a grant from the S.L. Gimbel Foundation through the Community Foundation to support vocational services and is hoping to expand programming with more work crews in the future.
Glenn-Leistikow noted that there are many social assumptions about people who have a criminal conviction, but overall, her experience has been that their clients are extremely hard-working and dedicated.
“We can tell after a year that the services are even more needed than we anticipated. We are excited to grow here and to be digging into the work for a long time,” she said.
To find out more about Center for Employment Opportunities visit ceoworks.org or call 909-380-8822.
The Community Foundation’s mission is to strengthen Inland Southern California through philanthropy. TCF does that by raising, stewarding and distributing community assets, working toward their vision of a vibrant, generous and just region—with unlimited opportunities. In 2014, the foundation has a renewed focus on building its endowment to ensure that The Community Foundation is here for good. Information: 951-241-7777 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Councilmember Steve Levin
Cleanliness is Major Part of Levin’s New Fiscal Budget
Oct 01, 2014
North Brooklyn is getting a cleanliness makeover.
Councilmember Steve Levin announced this week that he would be using a chunk of the funding allocated for the new fiscal year to help spruce up the neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Greenpoint.
The new funds directed towards cleanliness are part of a citywide initiative. $3.5 million were added to the City Council’s budget to keep the city streets cleaner as part of a program titled Cleanup NYC Initiative.
Each Councilmember was awarded $68,628 for the cleanup work in their districts.
“Thanks to the City Council’s Cleanup NYC Initiative, I am thrilled that we will be able to help clean and beautify the neighborhoods of the 33rd District,” said Levin. “It is essential that each of our neighborhoods is a great place to live and raise a family and cleanliness is an important factor in accomplishing that. We are partnering with amazing groups to do this work in the 33rd District and I am excited to see these resources be put to good use.”
The funds will be utilized in the maintenance of streets and parks, to introduce new high-end litter baskets, and to beautify public spaces.
The assistance is a much-needed sign of relief for an area that for several years has borne the brunt of the city’s waste. Neighborhood groups like the Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks and Planning (GWAPP) and Organizations United for Trash Reduction and Garbage Equity (OUTRAGE) have campaigned for years for the equitable distribution of this burden. Currently, North Brooklyn is home to 19 waste transfer stations and processes about 40 percent of the city’s trash.
And while the Council’s initiative won’t directly address the trash burden, it’s a step towards addressing the growing need of the neighborhood, especially in light of the rapidly escalating real estate developments in the neighborhood and the potential to bring in thousands more people into the neighborhood.
Levin’s office will partner with the Center for Employment Opportunities, the organization that provides life skills and employment opportunities to individuals with criminal records, to carry out the work entailed in the program.
“Engaging formerly incarcerated individuals in neighborhood clean-up and beautification projects provides them with much-needed income and structured job experience, while also encouraging these individuals to be stewards of their own communities,” said Sam Schaeffer, the Executive Director of Center for Employment Opportunities.
There are no dates at present about when the changes will begin taking effect.
Cleanliness has always been a leading concern for business owners and residents in the outer boroughs.
And since City Council budgets were established earlier this summer, programs like the Doe Fund and the Center for Employment Opportunities have been called on for their street maintenance initiatives.
Since taking office this year, Councilman Costa Constantinides has dedicated $160,000 in discretionary funding to the Keep Astoria Clean program in order to provide a more focused approach to litter and graffiti removal services.
“Since the start of the campaign, we have spread the word about what everyone can do and the role we all have in making sure our streets stay clean,” Constantinides said.
Although the program is now in the “maintaining phase,” according to a Constantinides staffer, the councilman stressed that it doesn’t mean things have been put on autopilot.
“This work will continue,” he said. “All community members have the power to Keep Astoria Clean if we work together.”
The councilman has invested $130,000 towards the Doe Fund project on 31st Street between 30th Avenue and Broadway, as well as $30,000 towards graffiti cleanup this year.
Lifelong Astoria resident Veronica Alston said although she has noticed certain areas have gotten attention while others still have work to be done, she explained that the issue is nothing new.
Alston said that while the grounds in the Astoria Houses where she grew up are clean due to the housing maintenance, the surrounding community – along areas on 8th Street – “could do better.”
“There is one trash receptacle on all four corners over here, and the community garden across the street, the sidewalk over there is always a mess,” Alston said, referring to the Two Coves Community Garden on Astoria Boulevard.
Dutch Kills Civic Association president Dominic Stiller said he hopes the Keep Astoria Clean initiative will highlight the amount of red tape that communities have to go through to get programs like the Doe Fund.
“There is a total double-standard when it comes to cleaning neighborhoods,” he explained. “It’s income-based and it took a lot to get our neighborhood at a better level.”
Rabbi Niederman speaks at Council Member Stephen Levin’s press conference today in Williamsburg (Photo: Nicole Disser)
Today in South Williamsburg, Council Member Stephen Levin announced the allocation of new city funding for cleanup efforts across the city. The program– the City’s Council $3.5 million Cleanup NYC Initiative– aims to install better public trash bins and beautify public spaces and streets while contributing to a generally more, er, sanitizedNew York City. Because apparently having streets in Williamsburg and Greenpoint that the Mayor’s Office rated 83 percent to 96.6 percent “acceptable” is nowhere near clean enough.
Mr. Levin said the $68,628 allocated to the 33rd District will ensure “that our quality of life is maintained.” He said that clean streets lead to a sense of pride in one’s community as well as a “sense of security.”
But the mission isn’t entirely about fancy new “high-end litter baskets” — the 33rd District will be teaming up with the Center for Employment Opportunities to place formerly incarcerated individuals in cleanup positions. “We decided to partner with an organization that consistently delivers services in addition to providing opportunities for individuals who are facing some of the biggest challenges of anyone in society: those that are reentering society from incarceration,” Mr. Levin said.
Sam Schaeffer, the organization’s executive director, said that the Center for Employment Opportunities “helps men and women coming home from prison when they are having the hardest time finding a job.”
Rabbi David Niederman, director of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg, was also present, and said that he’s happy to see a partnership between the 33rd district and the Center for Employment Opportunities. “It’s about empowering people for their life,” he said. “They come home broken and there is a community that raises them up.”
Many thanks to City Council Member Stephen Levin for selecting CEO to be part of the NYC Cleanup Initiative in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY.
Excited to announce Cleanup NYC funding in Williamsburg today, bringing clean up work to our local streets and parks. pic.twitter.com/4QpTwsAnnx
— Stephen Levin (@StephenLevin33) September 22, 2014
GUEST POST WRITTEN BY Sir Ronald Cohen and Matt Bannick
In late August, mobile security company Lookout raised $150 million in venture capital, taking advantage of the surging demand for cybersecurity products that had already attracted nearly $900 million in VC funding in the first half of the year.
Why can’t we address social needs with similar inventiveness and resources?
Poverty, homelessness, crime, unemployment continue to plague even the wealthiest of nations. Imagine if in addition to existing efforts, we could leverage trillions in private capital and bring the same level of focus and entrepreneurial dynamism that we see in the private sector to meet the pressing needs for better schools, more job opportunities, improved public services, safer streets?
We don’t have to imagine. It is already happening – and it is called impact investing. The idea is simple enough – to invest in efforts that not only provide a return on investment, but also target specific social needs.
We can dramatically accelerate the growth of this important market by partnering with government to remove roadblocks.
If you don’t think government policies matter in the development of new investing opportunities, think about how the venture capital market emerged.
Started in the mid-1960s, the idea of professionally-managed venture capital partnerships had nearly evaporated by late 1970s. That’s when the U.S. government implemented several changes that sparked the growth of a successful industry.
Among the policy changes were clarifications to ERISA’s “Prudent Man” rule that allowed pension funds to make VC investments, and a safe harbor rule making it clear that VC managers wouldn’t be considered plan fiduciaries.
In just two years, VC investments went from virtually zero to more than $5 billion. And this capital helped unleash waves of innovation.
Now we are poised to see the same happen with impact investing.
And around the world, there are stories of how impact investments are meeting needs in areas as diverse as childhood education, clean technology, and financial services for the poor.
Last year, New York State, Social Finance and Bank of America Merrill Lynch teamed up to launch a “social impact bond” designed to cut New York City’s seemingly insoluble recidivism problem. The $13.5 million raised will extend the proven approach of the Center for Employment Opportunities. If the Center meets targets for reducing recidivism rates, investors stand to earn up to a 12.5% return.
Or take d.light – a company that manufactures and distributes solar lighting and power products to those without access to reliable electricity, transforming lives in the developing world. Over eight years, d.light has reached more than 30 million people worldwide.
Recently, J.P. Morgan and the Global Impact Investing Network studied 125 major fund managers, foundations, and development finance institutions and found $46 billion in sustainable investments under management. That’s up nearly 20% from last year.
Some estimate that the impact investment market could grow to $3 trillion. And as the more socially conscious millennial generation of entrepreneurs build impact-driven businesses, you can be sure the supply of impact investment opportunities will vastly expand.
This week, a new comprehensive report released by the Social Impact Investment Taskforce established under the UK’s presidency of the G8 outlines comprehensive policy steps that should be taken to realize the potential. Among them: regulators should once again review ERISA rules for pension funds to make it clear that plan managers can consider social, targeted economic, or environmental factors in investment decisions because they affect the long-term financial performance of their investments.
The IRS, too, should refine its rules about foundation investments in for-profit enterprises to help fill the funding gap between grants and commercial capital. Government agencies need more flexibility to engage in pay-for-success commissioning and experiment with new approaches to old problems.
When the venture capital market exploded in the 1980s, it changed the face of entrepreneurship, the global economy, and our society for the better. New products and services flooded the market. Fierce competition drove affordability and quality up.
Impact investing is poised to change the trajectory of poverty, crime, homelessness, for education, green energy and much more. It just needs to be unleashed.Sir Ronald Cohen is Chairman, Big Society Capital and Chairman of the UK’s Taskforce on Social Impact Investment, and Matt Bannick is Managing Partner, Omidyar Network and Co-Chair, U.S. National Advisory Board on Impact Investing