Thursday, October 5, 2017

As JobsFirstNYC Marks Its 10th Year Our Mission Remains, the Work Evolves

Message from Marjorie Parker, JobsFirstNYC President & CEO



I am pleased and honored to have been appointed as the President & CEO of JobsFirstNYC. In my more than 25 years working in the field wearing many hats in direct service, government, education and other areas, I have had the distinct opportunity to learn from cross-industry stakeholders and have gained a clear insight into challenges our ecosystem faces in developing and implementing an integrated approach that can best benefit the communities we work to support. I plan to continue our mission to find effective, sustainable solutions and collaborate with our Board of Directors and JobsFirstNYC team to build on the work of my predecessors, Lou Miceli and David Nidus.

Our journey over the last ten years has seen challenges, no different from many startups, but our focus on the mission has been persistent. Born out of a crisis in 2006, when more than 220,000 New Yorkers aged 16–24 were out of school and not working, workforce development stakeholders across New York City gathered to reimagine systems-level solutions that will reconnect young adults to economic opportunities. To do this, a new kind of mechanism was needed that would collaborate with service providers, policymakers, philanthropic investors, and employers to develop community-responsive partnerships to achieve better outcomes for the young adults who were structurally left behind. JobsFirstNYC originated from a business plan prepared with support from the New York City Workforce Funders and the Tiger Foundation, and with lead investments from Tiger and The Clark Foundation, we launched in 2007 as the first intermediary of its kind in New York City.

Often plagued with the question, “What is an intermediary?,” since we are neither a direct service provider nor a funder, we have spent a decade creating and collaborating a body of work that now defines what we do. Our work is built on the framework of a classic community organizing principle—the whole is greater than the sum of its parts—that no one institution alone can make long-term, effective and sustainable change. This approach is informed by data, driven by results, and centered around partnerships that align community resources to achieve greater outcomes. We have proven the success of this strategy through initiatives like the Bronx Opportunity Network (BON), Lower East Side Employment Network (LESEN), and Youth Workforce Initiative Network of Staten Island (WINS) and others.

As many of our initiatives continue to mature and their return on investment become clearer, our capacity to transform—through systems change—the opportunity pipeline for young adults and the communities they live in continues to evolve as well. Our field defining reports, such as Barriers to Entry and Unleashing the Economic Power of the 35 Percent, have helped to articulate the challenges young adults face in New York City and have been critical in laying out a core set of strategies to improve the economic mobility of young adults. More specifically, our commitment to scaling best practices through policy is demonstrated in JobsFirstNYC’s Young Adult Sectoral Employment Project (YASEP), where some partners have recently been granted resources to sustain the work by receiving support through the federally funded Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA)
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Over the last 10 years, we have learned that building more inclusive communities requires a different approach, one that disrupts the norm and shows that communities themselves are well situated to be the change they seek; an approach that allows them to discover and develop the solutions that work for them, to be their own engine of change. Over the next 10 years, our mission will remain, as our work evolves. We will engage in deeper analysis of community needs and introduce our successful capabilities to communities that invite us in and can benefit from our approach. We are committed to empowering communities to help them uncover the key to spark neighborhood-based economic growth and security. We will do what we have done since our inception, build partnerships across economic, workforce and community development systems to effect large-scale sustainable changes to solve endemic problems.

The world has changed drastically since our founding, but one thing has remained constant, the communities that we serve have struggled to achieve sustainable economic progress and social stability. Our role and our passion is to continue to develop and work on effective strategies that can result in long-term economic stability for those who live in under-resourced neighborhoods.
Join us and inform the next leg of our journey towards working with these communities to find sustainable solutions. We want to hear from you. Tell us what you would like to see JobsFirstNYC doing over the next 5–10 years by taking this short five question survey.

Sincerely,

Marjorie Parker
President & CEO
JobsFirstNYC