NEW YORK, Oct. 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- The YMCA of Greater New York, Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow (OBT) and the New York City Department of Education Pathways to Graduation are this month celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Bronx borough expansion of the Y Roads Center, which places New York City's "opportunity youth" on paths towards higher education and careers. The first Y Roads Center opened in Jamaica, Queens, in 2013.
The Bronx Y Roads Center focuses on providing disconnected youth – the almost quarter of a million 16-24 year-olds in New York City who are neither employed nor in school – the jobs and learning experiences that increase their ability to build careers. Participants receive academic support, internship opportunities and skills training, including for industry-approved credentials such as Microsoft Office certifications, National Retail Federation certifications, and first aid and CPR certification.
In order to ensure that participants are positioned to succeed, Y Roads offers wraparound services including counseling, case management, linkage and referrals, crisis intervention, breakfast and lunch meals and an annual membership to the YMCA as well. This 360-degree model of Y Roads combines the Y's historic strengths as a youth service provider with OBT's proven expertise in job training and workforce development.
"The YMCA is dedicated to developing youth, which is why programs like Y Roads that provide opportunities for New York City's young people to make positive contributions to their communities are critical," said Roberta Solomon, Director of the Bronx Y Roads Center. "The success of the Bronx Center Y Roads program is an example of how we can work to uplift disconnected youth by providing them with the skills to make success possible and break cycles of poverty."
"The partnership between Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow and the YMCA of Greater New York offers a path to success for 'opportunity youth' who are in need of services to help them find employment and continue their education. Over the past year, our Bronx Y Roads participants have made great strides to a better future and we look forward to further working with the local community to better serve young adults," said Randy Peers, CEO of Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow.
"The New York City Department of Education and District 79 are delighted to have expanded our partnership with Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow and the YMCA of Greater New York to serve the residents of the Bronx. In our first year of operation, ten young people earned their high school equivalency diploma, and we look forward to many more graduating and soaring in the world of college and careers. Congratulations to all!" said Robert Zweig, Deputy Superintendent of District 79, NYC Department of Education.
Y Roads: By the Numbers
Since 2013, the Bronx and Queens centers have served more than 500 young adults from across the five boroughs, with this number expected to grow significantly as the program enters its third year.
Participants in the Y Roads program have an unprecedented 86.2 percent program completion rate and more than half of the workforce training graduates have successfully been placed in full-time jobs, post-secondary education programs, or more targeted occupational training programs. Together, participants have completed more than 1000 hours of community service and service learning. By the end of 2016, an anticipated 130 individuals will receive their High School Equivalency Diplomas.
Some of the additional successes of the Queens and Bronx Y Roads centers include:
Spotlight on Y Roads Participants
The best measures of the program's success are the stories of the youth who have flourished thanks to opportunities made possible by Y Roads. Alisha, a participant at the Bronx Center, is one such example. After growing up in Guyana, Alisha came to the United States looking to finish her education. She found her way to the Y Roads program where she became a model student and over the course of a few months passed the TASC exam, earning her high school equivalency diploma. With help from the Y Roads staff, Alisha applied and got accepted in the YMCA's competitive Teen Career Connection program where she worked as an intern with the Clinton Foundation. Now, she is enrolled at the Borough of Manhattan Community College where she is currently studying Business Management.
"My Y roads experience has taught me that success is only possible once you put forth your best effort and remain optimistic throughout the process of achieving your desired goals," Alisha said of the program.
"It's overwhelming the amount of support I've gotten since I've been at Y Roads. I've accomplished a major milestone towards my employment goals within weeks of enrolling," said participant John Caseres, a 22-year-old husband and father who, with the help of Y Roads, was able to get a job as a Nursing Assistant. "Nobody has an excuse not to succeed being enrolled in this program because of the amount of support and ambition the staff has to help the students."
Curtis Harris, Jr., former participant and current volunteer spokesperson for the YMCA's 2016 Annual Campaign, praised the program for assisting him on his current path: "Y Roads was my lighthouse on a foggy ocean. The staff helped guide me back to where I belong."
About the YMCA of Greater New York
The YMCA of Greater New York is, and always will be, dedicated to building healthy, confident, connected and secure children, adults, families and communities. With a focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, the Y nurtures the potential of every youth and teen, improves New York City's health and well-being and provides opportunities to give back and support neighbors. In scores of neighborhoods across the five boroughs and its camp upstate, the Y makes accessible the support and opportunities that empower more than 500,000 New Yorkers to learn, grow and thrive. Visit ymcanyc.org. Follow us on Twitter @ymcanyc and Facebook at facebook.com/ymcanyc or visit www.ymcanyc.org.
About Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow
Founded in 1983, OBT specializes in providing academic and vocational training empowering women and men from low-income neighborhoods to become self-sufficient with rewarding jobs and futures. OBT is best known for its Youth Education and Training Program, which provides business-skills training with integrated high school equivalency classes to young adults in a simulated corporate environment. OBT also serves adults with job-training and literacy programs. All trainees receive extensive job-retention support after placement. OBT serves more than 5,000 clients annually and has 70 fulltime employees.
About Department of Education's Pathways to Graduation
Pathways to Graduation provides students aged 17 - 21 with free Department of Education classes to prepare for a successful future through earning their High School Equivalency Diploma. With 65 sites offering classes within community-based organizations and in high schools, P2G provides preparation classes and wrap around services to ensure that students are prepared for life after their diploma.
SOURCE The YMCA of Greater New York