This month found us conducting a secret-shopper survey and launching new trainings, plus participating on civic communication panels and bringing on new communications staff. We’re also very excited to see recent releases from our colleagues at the Center for an Urban Future and the HOPE program that drive innovative solutions to workforce training and growing job opportunities. Take a look at a few things on our plate, and our reading list.

We learned a few things about Rent-to-Own practices that might be useful for the communities you serve.

Did you know that purchasing household goods or appliances through a rent-to-own agreement might result in paying over twice the retail value of the product? We recently conducted a survey of the RTO industry in New York City – in which retailers allow consumers to pay off large purchases in recurring installments – to understand how rental agreements are structured and ways in which consumers can identify potential risks. Read our full blog post for more findings on RTO business practices and how you can raise awareness about these issues in your own work.

 

We supported the newest CUF Report, Making the Connection: Aligning Small Businesses and the Workforce Development System.

We were grateful for the opportunity to contribute to CUF’s latest report covering the importance of small businesses in workforce development. The piece lays out how the city’s thousands of established small businesses are arguably one of the city’s greatest opportunities for future job growth, yet do not have easy access to job trainings and placement programs. Many thanks to CUF for this thoughtful analysis and including some perspective from Celeste, “Most of the jobs in New York City are in small businesses. We are leaving a lot of jobs on the table.” Recommendations are made on how to align small businesses with the city’s workforce development system. Read more here.

 Congratulations to the HOPE Program on receiving a Criminal Justice Investment Initiative grant to build its social enterprise.

The HOPE Program received $1.9 million in funding for its Intervine program, which provides participants skills training and job opportunities in the green sector. This will undoubtedly increase job opportunities for at-risk youth and formerly incarcerated New Yorkers. We look forward to supporting them in designing and implementing this new initiative through project planning and performance management.

Please join us in welcoming our new Marketing and Communications Coordinator.

We’re excited to have Jiwon Kim on board supporting our content and outreach efforts. Jiwon is currently pursuing a graduate degree at NYU Wagner’s School of Public Service, focusing on public and nonprofit management. She brings significant experience in programs and communications strategy, not to mention that she’s a beat-writer on innovation and tech in her spare time. We know that her passion for social issues and cross-sector collaboration will advance our work in-house and in building new partnerships.

It was also a great month of events and engaging around strategies to address complex civic issues.

During the Municipal Art Society 2017 summit, Principal Celeste Frye moderated a panel – “New Tools for Equitable Engagement” – on opportunities to improve traditional outreach and engagement methods so community-members can actively participate in decisions that shape their neighborhoods. The discussion covered the potential of new technology to drive democratic practices and included insights from panelists Story Bellows, Chief Innovation and Performance Officer from the Brooklyn Public Library; Gabe Klein, Co-Founder at CityFI & Special Venture Partners at Fontinalis Partners; and Damon Rich, Partner of Hector.

Director Allison Quigney participated in a panel at NYU Wagner to discuss how management can be used to improve public policy. NYU Wagner’s Management and Leadership Organization invited professionals to discuss their experiences on how they leverage management skills and tools to shape public policy. The diverse group of panelists shared their unique stories and shared their insights on how coursework in management can help public service leaders create effective change in every policy area.

What We’re Reading:

Sam Facas: A Brookings piece on the vital importance of a fully-funded 2020 Census to ensure our communities are properly studied and counted.

 

 

Favio German: A report exploring racial disparities in nonprofit leadership and opportunities to address this gap.

 

 

Julia Deutsch: This NYT piece outlining the current federal debate on how to expand apprenticeship programming.