Our work to improve the health and wellbeing of New Yorkers starts with uplifting the organizations engaging directly with their communities. To learn from and support each other in this mission, the Foundation is continuing its series of Community Healthcare Conversations.
Earlier this week, we hosted our first panel of the season: Workforce Development as a Social Determinant of Health, featuring three grantee guests who are paving the way to support New Yorkers in their career readiness and employment journeys:
Panelists virtually convened with nearly 550 attendees to share how their organizations are developing integrated approaches to meet the economic and social needs of communities, at a time when nearly 150,000 young people are unemployed in NYC alone Faced with high levels of unemployment and unique community challenges, each leader is approaching programming and services from a holistic point of view that addresses various barriers to employment.
At Fifth Avenue Committee, Michelle de la Luz and her team are advancing economic, social and racial justice through transformative education, training and services in Brooklyn. “The number one desire among those we serve is to be respected,” said de la Luz. Fifth Avenue Committee views employment as an integral element of respect and currently offers eight career training programs for residents to find not just a job but a long-term career path they enjoy.
David Zapfel’s work at Gerard Place in Buffalo focuses on community education and outreach to empower individuals toward self-sufficiency. Zapfel and his team understand that even starting a job search requires assistance in other facets of life, including transportation, child care and personal health. “It’s not only access: it’s also the cost of public transportation that inhibits access to good jobs,” said Zapfel. To support Buffalo residents, Gerard Place provides daycare services, dental care and more to help individuals feel confident every step of the way toward entering the workforce.
Lourdes Zapata’s work in the Bronx stems from her own experience growing up in and understanding the needs of the community. Her work at the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp. (SoBro) provides people across all age groups with high quality education, including computer literacy courses for adults and art classes for young people to boost their creativity. SoBro also provides business development resources to start-up Bronx businesses and residents to bolster the economy.
In our work with the participating grantees, we’ve found just how important it is that workforce development programs be tailored to individuals and the specific experiences of their community, culture and socioeconomic status. Each initiative, like that of Fifth Avenue Committee, SoBro, and Gerard Place, serves a unique purpose, a common understanding of the importance of integrating solutions for all social determinants of health.
Sign up here for more information on our upcoming Community Healthcare Conversation in October, focusing on immigration issues and solutions in New York State.
See below for the full recording of this event: