Monday, June 12, 2017

Beyond the Double Bottom Line: Building Value through Employer Networks

Significant and ongoing changes in the labor market mean that effective workforce strategies must involve new collaborative structures to engage employers more deeply. In order to improve the effectiveness of the workforce system and to improve outcomes for young people engaging with that system, we must turn to new innovations that more effectively address employer's concerns. A promising shift is the establishment of employer-informed or led networks, often supported by workforce or employer intermediaries that can be adaptive both to supply and demand-side needs, and that can incorporate employers as partners in the structure. 

We gathered on June 6th with six national experts representing several cities and several approaches to developing such networks who shared their wisdom, their candor, and their expertise as they endeavor to create or refine such efforts in their own communities. 

The presenters included:
  • Alan Momeyer, Chief Human Resource Officer Emeritus, The Loews Corporation (moderator)
  • Chekemma Fulmore-Townsend, President and CEO, Philadelphia Youth Network
  • David Garza, Executive Director and CEO, Henry Street Settlement
  • Alysia Ordway, Employer Engagement Director, Boston Private Industry Council
  • Liddy Romero, Founder and Executive Director, WorkLife Partnership
  • Robert Sainz, Assistant General Manager at the City of Los Angeles Department of Community Development

These leaders presented a range of considerations for the development and maintenance of employer networks, and how they are learning from their experiences to refine and strengthen their approaches to the work. Though each presenter had a slightly different context for their practice, their perspectives wove a clear through line that effective employer engagement strategies are absolutely essential for the future of our field, and the totality of their perspectives ultimately generated a conversation that was both thought-provoking and inspiring.

In order to best capture the experience, we have put together the following Storify highlighting some of our favorite tweets and posts focusing on the event

Monday, June 5, 2017

Raise the Age: New York’s Recent Juvenile Justice Reforms

No area of domestic policy...has been so thoroughly abandoned to misinformation, overstatement, over-simplification, emotion and disregard for consequences as has the area of juvenile justice.” – Douglas Nelson, Annie E. Casey Foundation

In our work as an intermediary bringing together organizations and resources to reduce the number of out-of-school, out-of-work young adults in New York City, one concern nearly always gets raised no matter the topic of the meeting: how do we help young people with a criminal record find a job?

The sad truth is that too many young people find themselves in court at some point, usually for minor nonviolent offenses. Once, these transgressions might never have been known beyond the courthouse walls. In the digital age, however, a conviction for even the $2.75 crime of jumping a subway turnstile – officially New York State penal law 165.15 “Theft of Services,” a Class A misdemeanor – will appear on background checks forever. Given the stigma of a criminal record to employers, having to check YES to the dreaded “Have you been convicted of a crime?” question can be enough to deter a young person from even applying for a job. Even worse, exposure to the adult criminal system can traumatize young adults and lead to additional, not less, antisocial behavior.

Thankfully, change is coming for New York's older teens. Recently enacted legislation will dramatically overhaul the way New York State handles teenagers who have been charged with a crime. The state budget signed into law on April 10, 2017, includes provisions that will, by October 2019, transfer most criminal cases involving 16- and 17-year-olds out of the adult system and into Family Court.

New York’s “Raise the Age” legislation will be phased in over the next two years, with 16-year-olds eligible for the new process starting October 1, 2018, and 17-year-olds one year later. Once implemented, the law mandates:

  • Increased parental notification and involvement in arrest and questioning.
  • All misdemeanor cases will be heard in Family Court, following sentencing practices under the Family Court Act. Convictions will not result in a permanent criminal record.
  • All felony cases will start in a new Youth Part of the adult criminal court.
  • Non-violent felonies will transfer automatically to Family Court unless the District Attorney files a motion showing “extraordinary circumstances” within 30 days.
  • Violent felonies may transfer to Family Court under certain circumstances.
  • Those 16- and 17-year-olds whose cases remain in the Youth Part of the adult court will be referred to as “Adolescent Offenders,” and judges must take age into account when sentencing. Family Court judges will preside over Youth Part cases.
  • No one under the age of 18 will be sentenced to or detained in a facility with adults. Any detention will occur in OCFS-monitored facilities specifically designed for youth.
  • Adult court convictions for eligible offenses can be sealed after ten years from the imposition of the sentence or discharge from incarceration, whichever is latest.

Together, these changes will ensure that New York’s teenagers are spared most of the long-term consequences of an adult conviction. Raise the Age NY, an advocacy campaign instrumental in passage of the new law, has prepared a full summary of its key components.

These changes have been a long time coming. In recent years, New York has been just one of two states (along with North Carolina) that automatically prosecute 16- and 17-year-olds as adults. Like older adults, those teens are tried by county District Attorneys and serve their sentence in adult correctional facilities. And the numbers are not insignificant. In 2016, nearly 25,000 16- and 17-year-old New Yorkers were arrested, the vast majority on misdemeanor (70%) and non-violent felony (16%) charges.

Mandatory adult trials for adolescents dates back to the 1970s, a reaction to the rising tide of violent crime then plaguing New York City and other urban areas. Teens who ran afoul of the law had traditionally gone to juvenile court, with its primary focus on treatment and reintegration over lengthy punishment. As media portrayals of young offenders as irredeemable “superpredators” came to dominate the public imagination, however, calls for harsher sentencing grew increasingly louder.

(The hysteria over teen crime reached peaked in 1989 with Time magazine's inflammatory coverage of the infamous Central Park jogger rape case entitled “Wilding in The Night: A Brutal Gang Rape in New York City Triggers Fears that the U.S. is Breeding a Generation of Merciless Children.” The five juveniles sent to prison for that attack spent between 6 and 13 years behind bars until a confession and DNA evidence from a serial rapist and murderer proved their innocence; New York City ultimately paid out $41 million for wrongful imprisonment.)

New York State’s Juvenile Offender Act of 1978 pioneered adult treatment of young offenders. In addition to automatically transferring 16- and 17-year-olds to the adult system, the law made it possible for children as young as 13 to be tried in criminal court for serious crimes. (The Citizens Crime Commission of New York City has prepared a detailed guide to the current New York juvenile justice system.) By the late 1990s, every state and the District of Columbia had followed New York’s lead in adopting some form of transfer law for teenage offenders.

The shift from juvenile to adult prosecution has come with serious consequences. According to Raise the Age NY, studies show that young people transferred to the adult system are:

  • 34% more likely to be rearrested for violent and other crimes
  • Twice as likely to be beaten by staff and 50% more likely to be attacked with a weapon
  • At the highest risk of any age group for sexual assault
  • Less likely to receive rehabilitative services
  • More likely to be placed in solitary confinement, with long-term impacts on mental and physical health
  • 36 times more likely to commit suicide while in custody.

As the New York Times puts it, “Convictions at this age often are the harbingers of derailed lives: 84 percent of young adults released from prison will be rearrested within 5 years. Few with felony convictions will be able to find jobs.”

Advancements in neuroscience over the past two decades and growing recognition of the lifelong impacts of a criminal record have called into question the wisdom of adult punishments for older teens. In particular, MRI research into psychosocial maturity – impulsivity, risk perception, thrill-seeking, resistance to peer influence – shows that development of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex may not be fully complete until the early 20s, making self-control in stressful or threatening situations especially difficult.

With crime rates falling since the late 1990s, the majority of states have been rethinking the desirability of adult sentencing for young offenders. In the past decade, several significant U.S. Supreme Court rulings have limited the application of the death penalty and unconditional life imprisonment to young offenders. Local municipalities have also been experimenting with better ways to address young adult crime. San Francisco’s Young Adult Court, which opened in 2015 and hears cases involving offenders ages 18–25, provides social services and a reduction in charges if the offender successfully completes the program. New York City’s Center for Court Innovation, a nonprofit that works with the New York State Court System, operates specialized youth courts in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Harlem. Numerous nonprofit organizations have formed or expanded to serve the needs of court-involved youth.

In New York City, free legal advice for court involved youth can be obtained through organizations like and Youth Represent. The New York City Young Men’s Initiative maintains a directory of supportive services for at-risk youth.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Place-Based Initiative: Bedford-Stuyvesant

On Tuesday, April 18th JobsFirstNYC partnered with Council Member Robert Cornegy's office to hold a town hall meeting for workforce providers and stakeholders focused on District 36, comprised of Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn exploring workforce and career options for out-of-school, out-of-work young adults in the District. JobsFirstNYC found that Bedford-Stuyvesant continues to be one of the 18 communities in NYC with the highest concentration of out-of-work, out-of-school young adults. First identified in our 2013 publication, Barriers to Entry,and again in our 2017 our briefing, "Declines in New York City's Out-of-School, Out-of-Work Young Adult Population...But Numbers Remain High", the community now ranks as number two on the list. Although Bedford-Stuyvesant has experienced overall economic improvements, these numbers remain stubbornly high and an intervention is necessary to ensure the young people of the district benefit from the development it is undergoing.

This town hall, the first of a number planned for 2017, featured presentations by Council Member Cornegy; Stefani Zinerman, the Council Member's Chief of Staff; the JobsFirstNYC team; Lazar Treschan, Director of Youth Policy at the Community Service Society, and a panel featuring Oma Holloway, Director of Community Engagement for MYBASE at Bridge Street Development Corporation and Chair of the Education and Youth Services Committee for Brooklyn Community Board 3; Doriga Alves, Vice President of Career Management for the Transportation Diversity Council; and Roger Green, Professor, Medgar Evers College and Coalition to Transform Interfaith Medical Center. 

JobsFirstNYC's Place-Based Initiatives focus on creating access to economic opportunities through the development of collaborative, local-level partnerships between community-based organizations, educational institutions, businesses, government, and other stakeholders to improve connections to jobs, strengthen local relationships, align community improvement strategies, and leverage resources across all systems to improve the lives of young adults who are out of school and out of work.

Over the last ten years, JobsFirstNYC has partnered with local communities to develop and sustain several place-based partnerships, including employer-facing networks to improve the way workforce organizations engage with and provide services to employers and college access networks to increase college enrollment and completion. One of the earliest examples of this strategy is best represented through the Lower East Side Employment Network, but others also include Youth WINS in Staten Island and the myriad of sector-based partnerships presently operating through the Young Adult Sectoral Employment Project. In the Bronx, we have been working to improve college completion rates for young people through the Bronx Opportunity Network.

Friday, April 21, 2017

JobsFirstNYC Announces New Executive Director

The JobsFirstNYC Board of Directors is pleased to announce that after three years of leadership in the role of deputy executive director, Marjorie Parker has been appointed as Executive Director of JobsFirstNYC, effective July 1, 2017. Over the course of her career, Marjorie has held leadership roles in nonprofit, government, and management consulting. During her time at JobsFirstNYC, Marjorie has overseen the implementation of several major initiatives, spearheading the organization’s partnership development, policy and advocacy efforts, and employer engagement work. The board of directors and staff have long admired her passion, focus, professionalism, and informed counsel on the organization’s mission to connect young adults to the economic life of New York City.

“As JobsFirstNYC enters our tenth year, we could not have a more principled and thoughtful leader to direct the next phase of our work. Over the past three years, we have experienced the weight of Marjorie’s commitment and determination. Marjorie’s strong ties to local communities, deep understanding of economic and workforce development, and unwavering dedication to young adults makes her the right leader to harness the potential of the organization,” said Alan Momeyer, JobsFirstNYC’s Board Chair.

“I thank the board of directors for the immense honor to lead JobsFirstNYC. This organization has remained steadfast in its commitment to young adults and to the field,” said Marjorie Parker. “Through support from Lou [Miceli], the team here, and many of you, I am excitedly looking ahead. In my role, I will continue our work of improving economic and educational outcomes for young adults by supporting successful practices, developing innovative newapproaches, and collaborating closely with the field to create community- and systems-level change.”

JobsFirstNYC was established in 2007 by private funders to improve workforce prospects for young adults. JobsFirstNYC has become a national leader in expanding employer-driven approaches in New York City through the Young Adult Sectoral Employment Project and the Lower East Side Employment Network, among others, always in partnership with innovative direct service providers. The organization has expanded and adapted these efforts through a place-based, partnership-driven approach to engaging and effectively serving young adults in under-resourced communities like the North Shore of Staten Island, Central Brooklyn and the South Bronx. Regular policy, research and practice briefs like 
Innovations in the Field: the Bronx Opportunity Network and Optimizing Talent: The Promise and the Perils of Adapting Sectoral Strategies for Young Workers continue to highlight innovative approaches for improving outcomes for young adults. The Board of JobsFirstNYC is committed to continuing this important work under new leadership.

“Early and energetic employer engagement often gets too little attention in job training programs,” says Rick Smith of the Pinkerton Foundation. “JobsFirstNYC clearly understands the importance of involving employers from the start, and thanks to its efforts, many of our grantees are making real progress and producing real results for the young people they serve. We look forward to continuing our work with Marjorie and her team to build on those accomplishments.”

JobsFirstNYC was created, in part, to improve the way in which young adult workforce organizations serve both young people and employers. Certainly, through its various initiatives and programs, the organization has had a substantial and lasting impact on how workforce organizations go about their important work. We look forward to seeing how, under new leadership, the organization will continue to build on its successes,” says Charles Buice of the Tiger Foundation.

“We at JPMorgan Chase are pleased to have a productive partnership with JobsFirstNYC as we work together to strengthen the workforce field and to further align job training, economic development, and employer engagement efforts in New York City, and notably in places like the Bronx where rates of young adult disconnection remain stubbornly high,” said Jennie Sparandara, JPMorgan Chase Global Philanthropy.

“It’s been a tremendously rewarding experience to work at JobsFirstNYC and a privilege to collaborate with colleagues here and in the broader field. I am excited for the skills Marjorie brings to this work and for the next phase of the organization’s growth. I know I leave JobsFirstNYC in excellent hands,” stated Lou Miceli, who has served in the executive role since 2010. Lou will remain through June 30, 2017 and is assuming a promising new leadership role at a new organization in the fall.

We hope you will join us in congratulating Marjorie Parker. We look forward to hearing from you and learning from you in the coming weeks and months as Marjorie begins in her new role and continues to engage the field.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

What the President's Proposed Budget Would Mean for Young New Yorkers

The President’s FY 2018 Budget Blueprint: Implications for Workforce Development and Education in New York 

Last week, the White House released its budget blueprint for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. The blueprint proposed budget cuts for federal spending on many of the education and workforce programs currently serving young New Yorkers. Additionally, it proposes cuts for several other New York City services that severely impact the economic prospects of young people and low-income residents in our city.

President Trump proposes a 21 percent decrease in funding to the Department of Labor (DOL).  According to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations Democratic staff, this decrease in DOL funding would mean a 35 percent decrease in funding for job training and other employment services. A funding decrease of this magnitude would result in the loss of 140,000 employment training slots, as well as 5-7 million American workers and jobseekers losing access to supportive services, such as career counseling and case management. If these cuts extend to Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Grants to States (which support many of our state’s current programs for out-of-school young adults and sectoral programs), New York would have funding for 158,415 fewer WIOA participant slots than in FY 2017. Other workforce related proposals include:
  • Eliminating the Commerce Department’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program, which saved small- and medium-sized manufacturers in New York State more than $48 million dollars and helped them hire or retain more than 3,500 workers in 2015. The president also proposes to eliminate the Economic Development Administration (EDA) program grants and discretionary funding for the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund both of which provide vital funding to create jobs, support small businesses, and expand economic opportunity in under-resourced communities in New York. Small businesses make up 99 percent of all businesses in New York State.
  • Eliminating funding to the Corporation for National and Community Service, which funds the AmeriCorps program. AmeriCorps currently offers 80,000 young Americans, including more than 5,000 young New Yorkers, work experience and training through service opportunities in their communities.
  • Eliminating the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) training grants program. Currently in New York State, all workers on publicly funded construction sites of at least $250,000 to complete the OSHA 10 hour construction course.
  • Closing a number of Job Corps centers, which provide free education and vocational training to young people ages 16 through 24. There is currently a Job Corps center in the South Bronx that also operates a Brooklyn satellite location. 
The President is proposing a 13 percent cut to funding for the Department of Education’s budget. These cuts would include at least a $4.6 billion decrease in funding for student financial aid, as well as significant cuts in Federal Work-Study funding. It would also result in a total decrease of $140 million from New York City schools and after-school programs. Included in the president’s budget blueprint are proposals to:
  • Remove $3.9 billion of Pell grant funding, which helps more than 7.7 million students afford college each year, including than 165,000 CUNY students. Moreover, his proposal would eliminate the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) program provides low-income students with need-based grants. In 2015-2016, more than 104,000 students in New York State received SEOG grants.
  • Eliminate the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which supports summer programs and before and after-school programs, and the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants program, or Title II of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which helps schools in low-income school districts hire and retain quality teachers. In New York, this would mean cuts of more than $87 million for before and after school and summer programs, and more than $184 million in cuts for teacher salaries.
  • Reduce funding for the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) by 10 percent, and funding for Federal TRIO Programs by 33 percent. GEAR UP provides post-secondary preparation and scholarships to low-income and first-generation students and TRIO helps low-income students, first generation students, and students with disabilities progress from middle school to college.
  • Decrease or eliminate federal funds for more than 20 other educational programs including Striving Readers, Teacher Quality Partnership, and International Education programs.

Community Block Grant Programs
The president proposes to eliminate the Community Development Block Grant program through the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Community Services Block Grant Program through the Department of Health and Human Services which contribute to (among other programs):
  • Free breakfast in New York City public schools, which was recently expanded to serve all 339,000 students at all of the city’s public elementary schools;
  • More than $5 million in job training through the NYC Department of Small Business Services;
  • Summer youth employment funding through NYC Department of Youth and Community Development, which serves approximately 60,000 young New Yorkers each year; and
  • Child care programs through the Administration for Children’s Services

Please read the full White House “budget blueprint” here:

Check out the links below for additional analyses of the President’s budget proposals and information on how his plans could affect young adults in New York City if approved by Congress. 

Find your legislators by zipcode here and let them know how important it is that they protect investments in education and employment for young New Yorkers.

Monday, March 6, 2017

JobsFirstNYC Testifies at NYC Council Preliminary Budget Hearing

Youth Services and Finance Committees Joint Preliminary Budget – March 6, 2017

Good afternoon, Chairpersons Eugene and Ferreras-Copeland, and other distinguished Council Members of the Youth Services and Finance Committees. My name is Chantella Mitchell and I am the Policy and Program Associate at JobsFirstNYC, a policy to practice intermediary focused on the issues of young adults who are out of school and out of work or underemployed.

For ten years, JobsFirstNYC has been developing and supporting innovative strategies to support out-of-school, out-of-work young New Yorkers. We are here today continuing to advocate for this population’s inclusion in the mayor’s and city council’s visions for a more equitable city.

We recently released brand new data on the out-of-school, out-of-work population in New York City. The data show that with improvements in the economy, and through the diligent work of workforce and education providers and advocates, more young people are working and in school since the recession. However, the numbers are still too high, and the disparities among neighborhoods are as stark as ever. More than 136,000 18-24-year-olds are neither working nor in school, and in parts of the South Bronx and Central Brooklyn, where rates are the highest, 30 percent or more of young residents are out-of-school and out-of-work.

Building on our work over the years, JobsFirstNYC recommends two areas of investment to the Youth Services Committee. First, we recommend the creation of a large-scaled “Business for Young New Yorkers” public campaign; and second, we urge you to increase investments in effective training and employment opportunities for living wage careers in under-resourced neighborhoods.

As I mentioned, the rates of out-of-school, out-of-work young adults vary drastically from neighborhood to neighborhood. For this reason, JobsFirstNYC has taken a neighborhood, or place-based, approach to developing strategies to connect young adults and local businesses. Last month, in the South Bronx, the NYC neighborhood with largest number of young people in the city, but the highest rates of out-of-school, out-of-work young adults, we successfully convened dozens of small and medium-sized Bronx employers to share the plethora of opportunities to partner with public and nonprofit workforce providers to source talent. On the Lower East Side, where booming economic development has multiplied the number of career opportunities over the last decade, we worked with community-based organizations to develop the Lower East Side Employment Network – a collaboration of CBOs and Community Board 3 that helps companies recruit, hire, and retain quality candidates at lower operational costs. LESEN ensures that local residents are able to benefit from the neighborhood’s economic growth by collectively serving 10,000 job seekers and 300 businesses every year. Finally, we are working with local employers in our emerging seasonal employer collaborative that will allow leading businesses in New York with high volumes of seasonal workers to work together to design and lead collective efforts to train, hire, and retain local young workers interested in year-round employment.

These and other efforts should be replicated, on a large scale to best match young workers with local employers for sustained success in in-demand fields. We recommend that our local government, with its vast array of business relationships, launch a citywide campaign to encourage private sector employers to develop
and hire local young talent. A strong example of small businesses pledging to developing talent is a project underway between the Small Business Majority and U.S. Small Business Administration called Small Biz 4 Youth Campaign.

New York City has taken steps to improve the quality of services delivered to OSOW young adults. However, many young adults remain disconnected from training and employment opportunities for living-wage careers. In 2015, half of all jobs in New York State required a training and education beyond high school, but not a four-year degree, these are often called middle skills jobs. Many excellent programs in New York City are providing sectoral training and certificate programs for middle skills jobs, but the need and demand for these programs – from both young adults and employers – far exceeds the city’s investment. We urge the city to create and expand successful programs training young people for living wage, middle skills careers. This includes sectoral programming, apprenticeships, and certificate programs.

Other areas for increased investment in training and employment include: creating an initiative to help young adults access employment in the public sector; strengthening retention and wrap-around supports for young workers after they’ve successfully secured employment; and evaluating and strengthening the various new youth opportunity centers throughout the city. We first recommended that the city create a network of one-stop centers that connect young people to jobs and to the educational, training, and support services in our 2014 paper Unleashing the Economic Opportunity of the 35 Percent. Since then, a crop of new centers has emerged throughout the city. From the new SBS youth-focused Workforce1 Center in the Bronx, to the Manhattan DA’s recently announced grants for five centers throughout Manhattan. We encourage the city to evaluate these new centers to ensure that they are coordinated to provide a truly comprehensive list of effective employment services, and that they are placed in the neighborhoods with the highest needs and staffed by organizations with the most successful histories serving this population.

Just last year, Comptroller Stringer stated the following when he released a report highlighting the dire situation of job and earning opportunities for young New Yorkers: “Millennials are doing their part for New York City – they are politically involved, culturally engaged, and highly motivated. This generation is overcoming setbacks and changing the way we work, live and communicate. Now it’s time for the rest of us to do our part and put policies in place that will help this powerful group settle down in New York City, start their careers, and raise families here, so our economy can continue to grow.”

Now is the time to put that call to action in place. We urge the city to make the investments necessary to ensure that young New Yorkers can share in our city’s economic success.  

Thank you,

Chantella Mitchell, JobsFirstNYC

Friday, February 3, 2017

Forward, Not Backward: A Statement from JobsFirstNYC on the Nominations of Andrew Puzder and Betsy DeVos

A Statement from JobsFirstNYC on the Nominations of Andrew Puzder and Betsy DeVos

JobsFirstNYC urges the United States Senate to vote no on both Andrew Puzder's confirmation for Secretary of Labor and Betsy DeVos's confirmation for Secretary of Education. As an organization dedicated to ensuring that every young New Yorker has access to meaningful education and employment options, we urge Senate leaders to protect the rights and opportunities of all American workers and students by voting no on Puzder and DeVos.

Andrew Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants and nominee for Secretary of Labor, has proven through his words and his actions that he is not fit to lead the Department of Labor.

Mr. Puzder has been accused and found guilty of stealing wages from workers within his own business. His company was investigated several times by the Department of Labor over the past eight years and was found guilty of wage theft in 60 percent of the investigations. Moreover, he has settled millions of dollars in class action lawsuits for wage theft. He has spoken out against raising the minimum wage and federal overtime regulations, favoring increased automation over offering employees higher wages and benefits.

Puzder opposes and has actively defied enforcing many of the worker protections and worker compensation policies that enable workers in low- and middle-income jobs to achieve financial stability and opportunities for self-sustaining benefits.

More than 25 percent of 16- to 25-year-olds in New York City work in low-wage service jobs, and another 22 percent work in retail. These and other young and low-income workers are extremely vulnerable to the predatory practices of employers like Andrew Puzder. The Department of Labor needs a leader who will protect the rights of these workers, and Puzder's record as an employer and his outspoken stance against employees' rights proves he is not up to the task. We should be working to increase the quality of the low-wage jobs in which many of our young people gain work experience and launch careers, not endorsing leaders and policies who are working to do the opposite.

Betsy DeVos, a conservative businesswoman and philanthropist lacks both the experience and the values needed to lead the Department of Education effectively and equitably. DeVos, who is a long-time advocate for charter schools and voucher programs, does not hold a degree in child development, school leadership, or pedagogy. She has never even worked in a public school. She has spent her career politically and financially supporting charter schools over non-charter public schools, but of the 90 percent of American students who attend public schools, only 5 percent attend charter schools. Furthermore, charter schools are not accountable to serve students with disabilities in the way that public schools are. At her January confirmation hearing, DeVos would not commit to prioritizing resources for public, non-charter schools. Moreover, she could not answer senators’ questions around important education policy or common styles of American pedagogy, and she quoted false amounts of student debt increases.

Ms. DeVos does not support equal access to K-12 or post-secondary education for all students regardless of ability or income level. Currently, 13 percent of public school students need disability services and receive equal federal support through the Free and Appropriate Public Education as outlined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Ms. DeVos thinks this responsibility should be removed from federal purview and left to the states. Moreover, while leaders in New York are working to make public college free for low and middle-income students, Ms. DeVos has no personal experience with financial aid and has expressed no interest in making post-secondary education accessible to all students. When asked about free community college tuition at her hearing she responded, "...we also have to consider the fact that there is nothing in life that’s truly free. Somebody has got to pay for it."

We join the ranks of organizations and individuals imploring the Senate to vote no on both Puzder and DeVos. Neither candidate has the vision nor the skills necessary to ensure that all students and all workers can thrive. They are a threat to our city and country’s young adults, and to our educational and economic prosperity. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Governor Cuomo Proposes Free College Tuition for Low and Middle Income CUNY and SUNY Students

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo announced a proposal to offer free college tuition to State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY) students whose families earn $125,000 or less per year. The plan would include community college and four-year college students. Governor Cuomo has proposed a three-year rollout that would start in the fall of 2017 and include students whose families earn up to $100,000 and eventually include students whose families earn up to $125,000 by 2019. The Governor’s office reports that 80 percent of New York state households make $125,000 or less and estimates that 940,000 households throughout the state have college-aged children that would be eligible for the program.

JobsFirstNYC has been working for many years to increase college enrollment and graduation rates for out-of-school, out-of-work young adults in the Bronx through the Bronx Opportunity Network (BON). The vast majority of BON students attend Bronx and Hosts Community Colleges, both of which are schools in the CUNY system. Since its launch, BON has served a total of 490 students. Of these students, 223 have graduated or remained enrolled in college, representing a total success rate of 54 percent, which compares favorably to both CUNY’s overall figures and the rate of a comparison group of demographically and academically similar students at Hostos and Bronx Community Colleges. Additionally, the BON partnership has forged strong relationships with Hostos and Bronx Community Colleges, influencing a host of unprecedented policy reforms at both schools.

We look forward to following the progress of the Governor’s proposal and commend the many ongoing efforts to increase college access and affordability to young adults in New York City.

You can read more about the BON in our November 2016 report