As Brooklyn’s only community college, Kingsborough has undertaken an ambitious strategic initiative to deeply engage with and serve its borough’s residents, especially the ones living in communities underserved by Kingsborough. While Brooklyn has undergone a transformation in recent years, outpacing the rest of the city and state in economic development, job creation and income growth, significant economic disparities across its diverse communities still persist. Lower levels of skills development and educational attainment are closely tied to these disparities. Nearly 50% of Brooklyn residents over age 25 have a high school diploma or less, which has a significant impact on earnings growth.
Our “Equity in the Borough Campaign,” in alliance with strategic community and industry/business partners, provides precious opportunities to reduce these disparities and improve the economic and social standing of targeted neighborhoods. Though we have established strong relationships with community-based organizations in most of the borough, including Brooklyn Public Library’s 60 branches, we are presently focusing our campaign on three rather distant areas from our campus with high levels of poverty which we deem as most underserved by Kingsborough: Canarsie, Cypress Hills, and Sunset Park. We are offering some of our non-credit and credit programming at these partnership sites starting March 2017, making it more convenient for the residents of the targeted areas (and adjoining neighborhoods) to take advantage of our quality college preparation, workforce development, and academic offerings. We are also planning to provide a shuttle bus between the partnership sites and our campus to enable these residents to continue their education and job skills development. Our campaign also engages industry and business partners to ensure our training programs and degree offerings provide skills that lead to career-track jobs with opportunities for advancement.
Our new Customer Experience Management (CXM) Academy is an innovative model of education and workforce development, with National Grid as the anchor partner and eight more companies (as of today) as committed partners. The majority of our students come from disadvantaged communities in the Brooklyn borough and this model serves as a career pathway to customer service jobs at these companies. The Academy is another equity initiative to eventually propel these residents to middle-income wages. Brooklyn’s highly diverse population of 2.6 million is younger than that of New York City or New York State as a whole, with almost 1/3 less than 24 years old. It is incumbent upon us to provide job-relevant training and education to this large pool of prospective students as well as reaching out to those above 25 with a high school diploma or less to prepare them for the growing jobs in our borough and a family-supporting wage.
– Farley Herzek
President of Kingsborough Community College