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A total of 27 New York City public housing residents celebrated their graduation from the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Resident Training Academy (NRTA) program on Thursday March 3, in an event that highlighted the success of LISC’s first Financial Opportunity Center in New York City.
Since 2005, LISC has launched over 80 FOCs in partnership with neighborhood-based nonprofits across the country. The program bundles financial coaching, employment services and income supports to help families raise their standard of living.
LISC NYC has brought the FOC program to New York City in collaboration with longtime partner Fifth Avenue Committee (FAC) and its affiliate Brooklyn Workforce Innovations (BWI). With grant support from MetLife Foundation and technical assistance from LISC NYC, FAC added a financial coach to complement the workforce training provided through BWI, creating a program that integrates strategies like helping clients raise their credit scores to improve their finances.
The FOC services are available to NYCHA residents who graduate from the NYCHA Resident Training Academy (NRTA) program offered through BWI. NRTA provide training and links participants to careers such as caretakers, pest control technicians, maintenance aides and construction-related positions with NYCHA contractors.
“You hear a lot about the income inequality gap in this country,” Michael Rubinger, LISC’s President and CEO said during the event. “Our view of the world is, if we want to close that gap, the best way to do it is to increase people’s incomes. And that’s what these centers are all about.” He cited financial coaching as a key strategy to support low-income New Yorkers in achieving financial stability.
Michelle de la Uz, FAC’s executive director, congratulated the graduates on their success, and urged them to continue using the financial coaching and employment services to develop their careers and improve their incomes. “This is really the first step, and you’re now part of a larger family that’s going to help you move forward,” she told the graduates.
A number of partners also spoke at the graduation, including Aaron Shiffman, BWI’s executive director, Judy Polyne, FAC’s financial coach, Rasmia Kirmani-Frye, NYCHA’s Director of the Office of Public Private Partnerships, and Dennis White, MetLife Foundation President & CEO.
“MetLife Foundation is focused on financial inclusion, and what that really means is building financial health for people around the globe,” White said. “We want to congratulate everyone who’s been through the program. We are happy to provide this funding.”
Click to learn more about program graduate Joshua Owoeye and read the tweets of the event from LISC NYC, Sam Marks, NYCHA and FAC!