Fifth Avenue Committee, Inc. (FAC) is a 37-year-old nonprofit comprehensive community development corporation located in South Brooklyn that advances economic and social justice by building vibrant, diverse communities where residents have genuine opportunities to achieve their goals and the power to shape the community’s future.
The Change Capital Fund grant is funding the Stronger Together Partnership, a collaboration between FAC and Brooklyn Workforce Innovations, Red Hook Initiative, and Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation. Stronger Together will improve education and workforce outcomes for one in three young adults living in poverty in Red Hook and Gowanus public housing. Over 10,000 individuals facing multiple barriers to self-sufficiency live in these public housing communities. The four Stronger Together partners share intake, referral, and data-tracking systems to increase access to the partner organizations workforce programs, adult education, college access, financial literacy, income supports and employer connections.
Earnest Buckles had lost his job as a security guard in 2012 and did not receive unemployment. Then in late 2013, a visit to an organization near his Red Hook home put him on a path to turning his life around – where he was able to find services critical to his wellbeing that he was long overdo in receiving.
Red Hook Initiative (RHI) is a partner in Fifth Avenue Committee’s Stronger Together initiative. Earnest, 55, is learning disabled and was functionally illiterate until he enrolled in RHI’s pre-high-school equivalency class and got one-on-one tutoring supported by the program. He is working toward his certificate to improve his employment options.
“I try to tell everyone who needs help about Fifth Avenue Committee,” Earnest said. “I say ‘trust me, my life has been changed.'”
The staff soon realized that Earnest needed a host of additional services. Through coordinating with other Stronger Together partner organizations, they were able to meet his needs, such as help filing paperwork to receive disability and income from social security, and getting out of credit card debt.
“Earnest is the kind of person who didn’t realize that he could receive any of these services,” said Brian Mendes, Associate Director of Education at Fifth Avenue Committee. “We were able to help him get what he needed through a program that was designed for people just like him.”