News

Keep Astoria Clean an ongoing focus in the community

LICJ

by Andrew Shilling September 23, 2014

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.”

Read more:LIC/Astoria Journal – Keep Astoria Clean an ongoing focus in the community

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Keep Astoria Clean an ongoing focus in the community

LICJ
by Andrew Shilling Sep 23, 2014
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.” 
Read more: http://www.licjournal.com/pages/full_story/push?article-Keep+Astoria+Clean+an+ongoing+focus+in+the+community+=&id=25822773&instance=home_news_2nd_left
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District 33 will see cleaner streets through Cleanup NYC Initiative

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by Jess Berry Sep 23, 2014
Councilman Steve Levin with Rabbi David Neiderman.

Councilman Steve Levin with Rabbi David Neiderman.
A slew of City Council members have recently announced investments in the Doe Fund — an organization that hires recently incarcerated or homeless individuals for street cleaning work — after the start of the City Council’s Cleanup NYC Initiative, which allocated funds to each district for street and park beautification.

Councilman Stephen Levin, who represents North Brooklyn’s 33rd District, strayed from the pack and announced on Monday that he is allocating $53,000 to the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO).

The Cleanup NYC Initiative is budgeting $3.5 million across the city for cleaner streets, awarding each council member $68,628 for cleaning initiatives in their district. Levin will thus be giving the lion’s share of his funding to CEO.

CEO and the Doe Fund share similar approaches, though their platforms vary. CEO hires formerly incarcerated individuals and gives them a job in clean up and beautification. After a few months, CEO helps their workers transition into a full-time job, and then provides retention services for them for a year following their entrance into the work force.

Sam Schaeffer, executive director and chief executive officer of CEO, explained that the non-profit hires people who have the greatest need.

“We recruit folks directly from parole and probation, who are at the highest risk for going back to prison — people who really need our assistance,” Schaeffer said.

He also said that the work his employees would do in District 33 with Levin’s funding would be particularly meaningful.

“We really love what we do,” he said. “This type of work is really good, because we’ll do stuff where we buff the floors of the courthouses every night, which is great, but when you’re in a community, and you’re cleaning up, and you see the difference and you’re being appreciated, it’s a different kind of impact.”

The funding from Levin will provide for four to five months worth of work from CEO, which will have workers out for seven hours a day cleaning streets mostly in Williamsburg and Greenpoint. Funding will also go towards introducing new, high-end litter baskets.

Levin explained that his decision to go with CEO over the Doe Fund was due to his familiarity with the non-profit’s work.

“A lot of council members are choosing the Doe Fund because that’s just the first name that came to mind,” Levin said, “but I was aware CEO does this work in a slightly different model.”

In Levin’s mind, the work done by CEO will ideally improve the relationship between residents and their community and push people to do their part in keeping their neighborhoods clean.

“Hopefully it will ensure that people feel more pride in their neighborhood, that they feel safer and there’s an overall sense of a greater quality of life, and the streets are cleaner,” he said. “I think communities will feel better.

“Then that will hopefully have a positive impact in making sure that people do their part to keep the streets cleaner, so I think it can have a positive impact all around, and I think this will go a long way,” he added. “There are a significant amount of resources being put into this.”

Rabbi David Niederman, executive director of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg, joined Levin at the announcement of the funding allocation to extend his appreciation for making “a cleaner Williamsburg.”

“I want to thank council member Stephen Levin for working tirelessly on behalf of the community and for ensuring that our neighborhood is kept clean and beautiful,” Rabbi Niederman said.Read more: http://www.queensledger.com/pages/full_story/push?article-District+33+will+see+cleaner+streets+through+Cleanup+NYC+Initiative+=&id=25822985

 

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$3.5 Million Will Create Jobs, Curb Garbage Juice

Rabbi Niederman speaks at Council Member Stephen Levin's press conference today in Williamsburg (Photo: Nicole Disser)
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.”

Read more: http://bedfordandbowery.com/2014/09/3-5-million-initiative-will-create-jobs-curb-garbage-juice/#

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Cleanup NYC funding in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Many thanks to City Council Member Stephen Levin for selecting CEO to be part of the NYC Cleanup Initiative in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY.

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Is Social Impact Investing The Next Venture Capital?

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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

Read more: http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2014/09/20/is-social-impact-investing-the-next-venture-capital/

 

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TESTIMONY: Social Impact Bonds: Can They Help Government Achieve Better Results for Families in Need?

 

Testimony by:
Sam Schaeffer Chief Executive Officer – Executive Director
Center for Employment Opportunities

Before the:
United States House Committee on Ways and Means,
Subcommittee on Human Resources

For the Hearing:

Social Impact Bonds: Can They Help Government Achieve Better Results for Families in Need?

September 9th, 2014

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL DOCUMENT

 

 

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Employment program provides help

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By MIKE AVERILL World Staff Writer

Community Employment Opportunites
 Community Employment Opportunites workers Rob Cowan and Troy Taylor bale aluminum cans for recycling at the MET’s baling center. Taylor, who spent 13 years in and out of prison, says he has had trouble finding employment since his release.  STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World

After spending 13 years in and out of prison on various drug and alcohol convictions, Troy Taylor said he’s ready to change.

To do so, he is trying to find permanent employment. Not an easy task for someone with a criminal record.

“It’s not like I don’t try,” he said. “Every corner I turn is a dead end. I just want to change my life for the better.”

His parole officer recommended the Center for Employment Opportunities, or CEO.

The agency employs men and women who are coming out of prison on parole in transitional jobs while they build skills and experience before helping place them in permanent jobs.

“For those who do want to work, the barriers are so significant that it’s almost impossible,” said Kelly Doyle, CEO state director.

The clients start with a four-day course covering soft skills and other things needed to get and retain a job.

“We don’t send out those who are not ready for a job,” Doyle said.

The types of work participants find includes light manufacturing, construction, general labor, restaurants, dry cleaners and public works departments.

Additionally, the agency has about 20 workers in its transition jobs each day who work doing landscaping for the Guthrie Green, Tulsa Community College, the City of Jenks, the City of Sand Springs and the MET.

“This allows us to pay the participants a daily wage, which puts money in their pockets and lets them prove they are ready to work, so when an employer asks we can say, ‘He has a conviction but comes to work every day and wants to change,’ ” Doyle said.

Taylor is working with the transitional crew, collecting daily pay for his work. More importantly, he said, his supervisors grade him on his performance each day so when it’s time, he can have something to show employers that he’s a good worker.

“By having that, that’s the key to my success,” he said.

Of those who have been placed in permanent jobs, 38 percent are still working at the same job.

The CEO program originated in New York in 1996 and, due to its success at reducing recidivism, was expanded throughout the country. The Oklahoma office opened in Tulsa in 2011 with funding from the George Kaiser Family Foundation, and an Oklahoma City office opened last year.

Since opening in Tulsa, CEO has provided 675 previously incarcerated individuals with employment services and helped place 400 in full-time jobs in Tulsa.

In June, the agency moved from downtown to Eighth Street and Peoria Avenue in the Pearl District. Since moving, the agency is able to provide comprehensive services to 225 individuals each year.

Doyle said the agency is successful in finding permanent employment for 60 percent of participants.

“It’s a journey to get people who have never been a part of the workforce adept to the expectations of employers,” she said. “We’re trying to impart those skills that employers are looking for. All too often they see a criminal conviction and exclude someone, and we know that without jobs they will keep going back to prison.”

Mike Averill 918-581-8489
mike.averill@tulsaworld.com
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VIDEO – Hearing USHR09 Committee on Ways and Means on Social Impact Bonds

Webcast from House of Representatives Committee on Ways & Means U.S. House Hearing on Social Impact Bonds on September 9th, 2014

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Source: http://waysandmeans.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=918&utm_content=buffer4a874&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

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CENTER FOR EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES TO TESTIFY AT THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON WAYS AND MEANS

SOCIAL IMPACT BONDS SAVE TAXPAYER MONEY AND CHANGE LIVES FOR THE FORMERLY INCARCERATED

Sam Schaeffer, CEO and Executive Director, and CEO program participant Robert Romo show proven success of Social Impact Bonds

Washington, D.C. – Today, Sam Schaeffer, CEO and Executive Director of the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), together with CEO program participant Robert Romo, will testify before the United States House Committee on Ways and Means about Social Impact Bonds (SIBs). In his testimony, Schaeffer will share the success of CEO’s proven model to help people coming home from prison find long-term employment and significantly reduce recidivism rates.

CEO is one of a select group of nonprofits who have received funding through Social Impact Bonds (SIBs), a unique model of public-private partnership that leverages private funding in order to provide important public services. Only if program impacts are achieved will investors receive a return of their investment.

“SIBs have the potential to scale some of this country’s most effective social interventions, helping communities expand programs that have proven results and save taxpayer dollars,” said Schaeffer. “Legislation supporting these programs can help change how cities, states and the federal government support the social sector by persuading them to fund what works.”

In December 2013, CEO began a social impact bond project that serves 2,000 high-risk men in New York City and Rochester returning from prison over the next four years. Forty-four private investors provided capital for this transaction in a performance-based contract. If CEO hits benchmarks and reduces the use of prison and jail by program participants, investors will be repaid by the US Department of Labor and New York State.

Robert Romo, who participated in CEO’s program and now has steady employment, will testify together with Schaeffer. “I could not have achieved all of this without the support of CEO,” said Romo. “They helped me see beyond my conviction to a future that is really positive. I am grateful for this second chance. I got a paycheck at the end of each shift, which was great. It helped me buy extra groceries to support my family”

Schaeffer hopes legislation supporting SIBs will pave the way for private investors and government agencies to partner together to fund services that have a proven impact on the outcomes that matter most.

CEO’s vision is that anyone returning from prison who wants to work should have the preparation and support needed to find a job and stay in the labor force. This creates safer communities and healthier individuals and families, all at a fraction of the cost of incarceration. Since 1996, CEO has helped over 18,000 formerly incarcerated people find full-time jobs. A three year, federally-funded independent study found that CEO significantly reduces recidivism and saves taxpayer money, with total benefits up to $3.30 for every dollar spent on the program.

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