The BronxWorks Workforce Development Department (WFD) is a collection of programs that prepares New Yorkers that are unemployed, looking for their first job, or need help improving their careers for their employment journey. The department has programs for a range of populations, including young adults, New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents, non-custodial parents, and older adults.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, BronxWorks WFD continued to assist our community members with employment assistance. As the New York economy recovers from the effects of the pandemic and New Yorkers return to work, the department has geared up even further to ensure that our communities have the resources they need to achieve gainful employment, financial stability, and a brighter future.
In this month’s newsletter, we highlight the growth of the BronxWorks Workforce Development Department and variety of programs that are offered to target the dynamic needs and challenges faced in our communities.
The Healthy, Empowered, Resilient, and Open (HERO) Dads program works with eligible non-custodial parents (ages 18 and older) who have children ages 24 and younger. The program is a partnership with Montefiore Medical Center that is designed to strengthen positive parent-child engagement, improve social and economic outcomes for parents and their families, improve healthy relationships, and promote healthy marriages. The partnership is built on the idea that it is not enough to just help people with finding employment; it is also crucial to ensure that people are in a good place personally and mentally to sustain employment long-term. Through the program, BronxWorks provides employment assistance, training, and self-sufficiency and parenting workshops, while Montefiore provides mental health consultations and counseling.
Community Service Programs
BronxWorks WFD provides a suite of Community Service Programs based in NYCHA residences across the Bronx. The three centers are located at the Bronxchester Community Service Office, providing services to the residents of the Bronxchester Houses and surrounding neighborhoods; The Cross Bronx Preservation Community Service Office, providing services to the residents of Baychester and Murphy Houses; and the Twin Parks/Highbridge/Franklin Community Service Office, providing services to the residents of Twin Parks, Highbridge, and Franklin public housing developments. Each of these centers offers a multitude of programs including job readiness preparation, vocational trainings, financial counseling, literacy, educational workshops, health and wellness education, and benefits screenings and assistance.
Similarly, the Family Self-Sufficiency Program gives HPD Section 8 participants free services like job training, job placement, training, and education, and also provides financial rewards to participants through a free savings account, resulting in successful graduates earning a stipend. The goal of these programs is to help residents improve their skills and assist them in seeking long-term employment opportunities.
Youth Workforce/Summer Youth Employment Program
Last year, BronxWorks Youth Workforce services were shifted under the WFD umbrella. The collection of programs aims to provide both school and community-based job-readiness training and education programming focused on youth and young adults. Programs include the EXCEL Program for youth ages 16-24 to explore a variety of employment options and prepare them for the world of work through resume building workshops, interview practice, computer skills training, and financial literacy, as well as high school equivalency classes. The Neighborhood Development Area (NDA) Opportunity Youth Program works with youth ages 16-24 who are out of school and unemployed that reside in NDA 4 or 5. The program shepherds participants through a course of work readiness trainings, counseling, and a paid 14-week internship.
BronxWorks WFD also manages the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). SYEP connects over 1,300 New York City youth ages 14-24 with career exploration and a six week paid work experience every summer. Each year leading up to the summer, WFD prepares by hiring 50 seasonal staff to oversee and manage the placements of the 1,300 participants at hundreds of different work sites and partner organizations throughout the Bronx. The entire department comes together to help with the hiring logistics. The subsequent Work, Learn, & Grow Employment Program (WLG) builds off of the work experiences gained through SYEP and provides participants with follow-up career readiness training and paid employment opportunities for up to 25 weeks during the school year from October to March.
Taxes, Financial Empowerment, and More
Every tax season, BronxWorks WFD offers a free income tax service for New York City residents through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA). Qualifying individuals must have an annual income below $50,000 and households must have an annual income below $72,000. The Bronx-PEACH Program is another collaboration with Montefiore Medical Center to provide tax preparation assistance to residents in targeted zip codes of the north Bronx who are disproportionately at risk of adverse childhood experiences. Known as the Bronx Promote Earned Income Tax Credit to Support At-risk Children (PEACH), the goal of the program is to provide VITA services to secure the Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) for these households.
In addition to tax preparation services, BronxWorks WFD provides a number of services to assist New York residents with low incomes through the Financial Empowerment Center (OFE) Program. OFE offers high quality financial education and counseling, resources to promote access to safe and affordable banking, and assistance with securing tax credits and other income-boosting benefits and savings. The program is designed to help low-income households reduce debt, strengthen their credit score, develop routine practices to increase savings, balance household budgets, and connect with financial resources like opening bank accounts.
All of these programs have been layered on top of the foundation of more traditional high-quality job preparation and assistance programs like Jobs Plus. Jobs Plus combines employment-related services, financial incentives, community support for work, and financial counseling into a single workforce development program that supports NYCHA residents living in the Betances, E. Roberts Moore, Melrose, and Courtlandt Avenue Houses. While WFD continues to offer Jobs Plus as a core assistance for individuals seeking employment, the department has expanded to offer comprehensive wraparound services to support households in other areas that create stability and self-sufficiency.
A New Home Workforce Development: Park Haven
In the fall of the 2021, BronxWorks relocated the Workforce Development Department to Park Haven a mixed-use residential building, located at 550 East 142 Street. The 10-story building houses 178 residential units, including affordable and supportive housing units, as well as BronxWorks offices for Supportive Housing and Workforce Development.