“I was not going to give up, so I applied aggressiveness and went for it.”
Ashlye was a student of KCC’s Project Rise in 2014. She entered the program having already completed the requisite credits for high school completion at the Bronx Aerospace Academy, but was denied a diploma on a technicality. While she had a passion for a job in the aviation industry, she knew that in order to support herself and her daughter, she would need to change her immediate career prospects.
Upon attending an information session, program administrators, Norma D’Arancio and Victoria Bershtat, urged her to enroll telling her that she had the skills to rapidly excel in the program. The commute was long but knowing that “the further I had to [travel] to get an education, the more I’d want it.” This momentum began the moment she started.
On Tuesday, March 22, Dina LiMandri and Genesis Reyes will present at the 2016 NYAETP Youth Conference about CEWD’s successful approach to youth programming.
A strong relationship between the program counselor and participant cannot be overstated. A report by MDRC, Reconnecting Disconnected Young Adults: the Early Experiences of Project Rise, which featured KCC’s Project Rise, notes that the caring relationships between participants, case managers, instructors and staff promoted persistence and success. Participants interviewed for the report describe the staff as “invested, relentless, kind and passionate”. At CEWD, these relationships extend throughout the entire program team.
Through our presentation (click the image above for the full presentation) attendees will learn about our successful approaches that serve to empower young adult participants. We’ll review the benefits of our teamwork approach and its impact on retention. Attendees will discuss practical steps to facilitate implementation which will ultimately improve programming, participant retention results, and the development of best practices applicable to all youth programs.
In this report, KCC’s Project Rise was recognized, among other things, for our collaboration with the College that provided resources to both staff and students—KCC Urban Farm as the pre-internship site, referrals to KCC’s Single Stop for social service benefits, the opportunity to bank college credits, etc.
In a message to her staff, Associate Director of KCC’s Project Rise, Dina LiMandri, said: “There’s a story that the report won’t tell. One about growth and development, leadership and management, interdisciplinary team approaches, and what it takes to create a culture of engagement.” Without a team that brought “a perfect balance of creativity, organization, temperament, and strategy…” our services would look completely different.
Across all sites, Project Rise has been wildly successful:
More than 91% received some HSE preparation.
About 72% began internships and over half of those worked more than 120 hours.
Within 12 months, 25% earned a high school equivalency credential or high school diploma.
David Zubin 24, is a current student KCC’s Project Rise. Since enrolling, he has made it his mission to earn his TASC Certificate and find employment. Although it hasn’t been easy, in 8 months he has come closer to meeting goals–reaching over 100 internship hours, finding part-time employment and, working his way to taking the TASC Exam. “I love Project Rise and I focus on what is important: getting my GED, completing internship hours, and working at Applebee’s. I love working!”.
His hard work has paid off. David is the first Ambassador in Project Rise’s Ambassador Program. Since taking on this new role, his class attendance, participation, grades, and confidence have all gone up. “Now I feel important, like I am really needed. Sometimes I get excited and brag on Facebook and to my friends about what I do as an Ambassador.”
The CEWD Ambassador Program at KCC’s Project Rise is part of the program’sInternship Tier System designed to provide the students the opportunity to gain specialized skills that are useful in the workplace and in their personal lives. Ambassadors learn skills such as professionalism, public speaking, networking, marketing, self-awareness, and responsibility.
Unlike many internship programs, this one allows ambassadors to work within a supportive and engaging professional environment where they learn about CEWD’s other workforce programs, teamwork and leadership, setting work schedules, developing marketing materials, networking with other professionals and neighborhood businesses, and serving as representatives of CEWD at citywide events, fairs and conferences.
This program not only aids students in self-improvement and self-confidence but also helps them overcome hurdles and barriers. Through activities such as role-playing, ice breakers, team competitions, memory quizzes, and the implementation of the “Selfie Race” (taking a selfie photo during the outreach and recruitment events with the Hashtag #CEWDwashere), each individual will utilize various learning techniques that will ultimately widen their horizons to new opportunities and success.
Note: If you are a current Project Rise participant and want to become an Ambassador, please note that slots are limited. Each participant is given the same opportunity to apply and interview for the program. Speak with Project Rise’s Associate Director, Dina LiMandri for more information.
Project Rise at KCC is approaching the end of our initial 4 year grant period. During that time over 180 disconnected young adults have come through our doors to receive preparation for the GED/TASC exam, important work readiness skills development, and extensive individualized support services. Our efforts have had a huge effect with over 50 participants receiving their high school equivalency and over 50 gaining long-term employment. Even more significant, so many of our students have gained confidence in themselves and their work to overcome obstacles that kept them from succeeding earlier in life.
As we move forward, KCC’s Project Rise received a challenge grant from the Center for Economic Opportunity/Social Innovation Fund to provide an additional year of funding for our program. Late last week we received a commitment from the Pinkerton Foundation for $100,000 and $2,500 from the Signature Bank Foundation towards reaching the challenge. These awards will allow us to continue providing our much-needed services to disconnected young adults who are eager to take control of their educational, professional and personal lives.
On Wednesday, Dec. 3rd, NRC Community Health Worker Cohort 1 students gave a presentation to Project Rise participants about the role they play in their own health, with a multi-tiered focus. NRC students spoke about price disparities–how processed foods are often advertised at sale prices, while healthier products are much more costly–and the layout of grocery stores–how fresh produce is often located just on the perimeters whereas processed foods fill the bulk of stores. CHW students highlighted that individuals should and can inquire about the foods they consume to take an active role in determining which foods are healthy.
In addition to food consumption, CHW students told participants about the importance of being more engaged in their overall health. For example, resources both on-campus and throughout the city, provide individuals with information about sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. These resources give information about protecting oneself against STDs and also talk about the positive impacts of taking control of one’s sexual health.
KCC’s Project Rise on WBAI 99.5FM, tomorrow December 10th!
CEWD sees so many amazing and ambitious students! Desi, a current NRC CHW student also hosts a show on WBAI 99.5FM: Women in the Making: Tomorrow’s History Today, which “highlights the views, perspectives, questions, goals and accomplishments of today’s girl.” Desi has taken a special interest in KCC’s Project Rise and has interviewed the program’s associate director, Dina LiMandri and two Project Rise students. The segment will air tomorrow, Wednesday, December 10th at 2pm. Tune in to find out how the lives of these young women have changed, in part, thanks to the work of Project Rise and Kingsborough Community College.
If you’re a follower of this blog, you’ve seen post after post we’ve written about the success of Project Rise. We’re obviously proud of what we do. What makes our program so great is the one-on-one attention we’re able to give our participants. This individualized counseling, along with extensive preparation for the GED/TASC and job readiness training has allowed so many participants to reactivate their professional, educational and personal lives.
A. started PR feeling insecure about her academic ability despite having specific career goals. To hide her insecurity, she focused more energy on the people around her and neglected her own academic goals. With the help of Project Rise staff, she began to take Project Rise more seriously 4 months into the program. Since then, she has become incredibly focused in class and has started a coveted internship at a local hospital. What’s more, A. has noticed the shift in her own attitude and has often referred to the “old her” and the “new her” as she speaks with classmates and program staff.
I sat down with Natalie, a recent Project Risegraduate, to talk about her experiences with the program.
Me: How did you hear about Project Rise and what made you sign up?
Natalie: My mother. She saw the Project Rise advertisement in the Kingsborough Community College Brochure. My family is run on tough-love so she basically threw the brochure at me and told me I needed to get my G.E.D (I swear she is a very kind and funny woman). But I did like how they offered a paid internship and work readiness. Heaven knows I had no job experience.
Me: You just graduated. Congratulations! What did you like most about the program?
Natalie: Generally I liked the whole package. The fact that I was going to be able to study and take the G.E.D. for free and have a paid internship along with obtaining college credits not to forget we had the chance to work on the Urban Farm, it was great…still is.