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New York Impact Fellowship Voices

In partnership with JobsFirstNYC, Young Invincibles created our Impact Fellowship program to train young adults who are currently part of a workforce development program to lead projects that engage their peers and directly address policy issues in the workforce development field in New York City. The Impact Fellowship brought young adults who have participated in programs such as Per Scholas, Ladders for Leaders at United Activities Unlimited, Commercial Drivers License Certification at Cypress Hills LDC and Young Adult Internship Program at Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow to talk about how these programs impacted them, and about what issues in workforce development they thought were the most critical. The Impact Fellowship model leverages existing networks and partnership to identify where each cohort of fellows can have immediate, but lasting, impact on elevating youth voices to the workforce development field.

Over a twelve-week period, the Impact Fellows reflected on their experiences in workforce development programs and contributed to a Memo to the Field to workforce development leaders. Additionally, Impact Fellows participated in a variety of skills and strategy sessions to think through how they would advocate for increased access to quality job training, and how they could use communications and their own individual stories to amplify their policy priorities. Finally, the fellows worked in two groups doing incredibly thoughtful research around the key issues, and wrote the two policy briefs that follow to share with the field. We’re incredibly proud of how much our fellows learned in just three months, and are excited to be able to share out their perspectives here.

Read blogs from our participants in the New York Impact Fellowship:

Danielle Caviness

When I found Cypress Hills Commercial Driver’s License Program, I was a new mom to a 6-month-old, living with my husband in a shelter, with no direction of where life was going. I was looking for a way out an finally found it. I learned a lot from the people at Cypress Hills. It was like a family away from home. When I graduated from the program and started working, the feeling was unexplainable. When I moved out of the shelter because I was working, I was overwhelmed with joy. The CDL program changed my life and I honestly don’t know where I would be if I didn’t join the program. Even though I’m not driving right now as a job, I will forever have a skill I can fall back on and I can’t thank Cypress Hills enough. Talking to fellow alumni of Cypress Hills, they all agreed that the CDL program was a life-changing program. I remember my first trip transporting the elderly and disabled, I was able to enjoy a piece of their lives and it was rewarding to have conversations that I wouldn’t be able to have regularly. I believe programs like the Cypress Hills CDL Program are important because they give people a second chance at life.


Djibril Kaba

Tech Bridge is a 5 week, 175 hour program provided by The DOOR, a non-profit organization based in New York City. The purpose of this program is to provide talented young adults with the opportunity to earn a seat at Per Scholas, a school that provides technology skills training and professional development tailored to business’ needs, to highly motivated students from overlooked talent pools. Entrance into Per Scholas requires passing a TABE examination, attending an orientation session, and a panel interview with Per Scholas staff.In order to prepare students for the rigor of the programs available at Per Scholas, Tech Bridge continues to improve on their training techniques. Tech Bridge entrance involves a panel interview with several staff members from Per Scholas and The DOOR followed by a typing exam and a mock TABE exam. The Tech Bridge program mimics the time and specific rules of Per Scholas. Students are expected to show up on time, one lateness in the first 2 weeks will result in immediate dismissal from both programs. Both programs meet 9:00am-4:00 pm Monday-Friday. This can be a heavy time investment and can be difficult to balance working while participating in these programs.

Students in the Tech Bridge program cannot be older than 24 and cannot work while participating in the program. In return students receive a stipend totaling $550 over the course of the program as well as transportation cost. The DOOR has been very receptive in making changes suggested by students of the program. Student feedback that more time should be spent on the course work that students will encounter at Per Scholas and less on preparing for TABE examination was implemented in the following cycle. The program has also increased the number of days students spend on-site at Per Scholas receiving hands-on training from Per Scholas staff.

At Per Scholas students have the option of pursuing courses and certifications in hardware repair, network troubleshooting, coding, network security, and CCNA. Courses range from 8 to 16 weeks. Relatively small class sizes provide for plenty of student teacher interaction. The instructors at Per Scholas are knowledgeable which is a key factor to the success of Per Scholas Students. The curriculum at Per Scholas is highly condensed, so students receive a very large amount of information and training in a very short amount of time.


Ashley Brown

We’ve all heard before when applying to job that you need a certain amount of experience to qualify. But what about when you are just starting out and you need the job to get experience? This is a common challenge that most youth, including myself, face in the job market. These requirements work as a Catch-22 – you need the job to get experience but you need experience to get the job. Some young people may even resort to lying to get a job. What about the people that don’t want to lie? What about the people that have only worked summer jobs but possess the necessary skills required for the position? How does turning away potential employees who may be qualified benefit the applicant or the employer? This system creates missed opportunities for all. These expectations are unfair, bordering on unjust. We shouldn’t encourage candidates to feel like they need to lie to get a job but create spaces for employees to grow within the company and gain skills along the way.


Leonel Brito

When I was in High School, there was only one class I was looking forward to: economics. What surprised me, was the fact that it was only for one semester, and it later changed into A.P U.S government. In only 4 months, we were supposed to learn information to make us “financially literate.” I absorbed it all but knew that it was not enough for a young person, because I saw that almost all students just memorized the material and forgot what they learned. This is a terrible method for young adults to learn financial skills, because at that age we don’t understand how important it is. If we were to start at a younger age, then we would click that it is important. A greater focus on finance would only be beneficial to everyone. Student debt might decrease if students would understand and avoid high-interest loans. Also, more people would seek entrepreneurial experiences if they understood the ways it could lead to success. In school, we are asked to take an art class or a language for years that ultimately do not have as much value to us in the real world. Four years of financial literacy classes would follow students into the real world. The earlier the school system starts teaching financial skills, the more likely young people would expand their horizons and have more opportunities for success.


Murshedur Shahy

Summer 2017, I was an upper sophomore who was pursuing Environmental Engineering (B.E). I had no work experience related to my major. I was working at Old Navy and CVS as a part time employee while attending school full-time.

I used to stress a lot about summer internships and what I was going to do in the summer. Being a first generation college student, I was clueless.

One day, I was just surfing on the internet and I came across the Ladders for Leaders program. I checked for the requirements and I submitted my application that day, not knowing much about the program. Towards the end of the application, they gave me a list of providers from different boroughs in New York City to choose from. I was mostly interested in the Engineering field and providers who focused on that field as well. Somehow, I ended up choosing United Activities Unlimited as my provider. I live in the Bronx and UAU is in Staten Island.

I did not know what to expect from the program. As I was accepted into the program, I started to receive emails for different workshops, such as resume writing, interview practice, and many more professional development opportunities.

That summer, I received an email from Nicole LoMonaco about the NYC Department of Environmental Protection internship opportunities. I ended up applying for Bureau of Environmental Planning Analysis intern. Then the following week I started to work for the agency and I spent 8 weeks there. I also took two summer classes,and it ended up being a very productive summer.

The time management skills I have acquired from the workshops are valuable as well. While I was working for DEP, I had an interview with Con Edison Engineering for an Aide position. What I have learned from the internship and workshops helped me a lot to do better in the interview and get this Con Edison internship that I always wanted to get. Also, I work with the Environment, Health and Safety Department at ConEd. I am able to apply what I have learned so far from class in real life.

I am still connected with my DEP supervisors and we exchange emails once a while. I have received two scholarships this year as well. The most prestigious one for me was the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration Undergraduate Scholarships plus Fellowship. I found out about this while I was interning at DEP and the experiences there helped me prepare for this opportunity.

I will be spending my summer in Maryland this year doing research with NOAA with the condition of maintaining my GPA. I realized how important those interview workshops were. The L4L program has a great impact on me and it has changed my life for the better. I am more focused on my career than I ever was.

Thank you to the UAU family for believing in me.The L4L program made a huge difference within one year and I think I am going to the right direction. My goal is to give back to the UAU that has given me so much.