Getting the Job Done

May 4, 2012

A graduate of the HOPE Program at the organization's annual Achievement Ceremony

Getting the Job Done

How Our Community Development Fund Helps Out-of-Work Brooklynites Find a Path to a Better Future

As protestors and historians alike marked International Workers Day on May 1, here in Brooklyn the gap continues to grow between our residents who are finding entrepreneurial opportunity and new industries in our neighborhoods, and those who, without reliable employment and the resources to invest in new skills and education, continue to sink deeper and deeper into poverty.

More than one in ten Brooklynites is out of work. Over half a million of our residents live in poverty. One in five cannot afford enough food at some point during the year.
In parts of Brownsville and Bed-Stuy, unemployment is over 20%.

Our challenges as a borough are great, but the Brooklyn Community Foundation is determined to be a force for change—and a means for getting Brooklynites like you involved in investing in effective solutions.

We know our residents don’t just need jobs—they need careers. They need economic self-sufficiency. Careers take families out of poverty, create healthier, more stable homes, and put children on a straighter road to realizing their own success in life.

With the support of donors to our Community Development Fund, last year the Community Foundation gave over $250,000 to 10 economic and workforce development programs in Brooklyn, which are working with thousands of our residents to instill the skills and readiness needed to earn not just a paycheck, but real hope for a new path in life.

Hope is so core to the work of one of our grantee partners that they made it their name. The HOPE Program, founded in Downtown Brooklyn in 1984, helps our neighbors whom some would label “unemployable.”

Homelessness, incarceration, no diploma, no work experience: these are not the building blocks of strong resume. Yet HOPE takes on 200+ motivated Brooklynites each year to move them past these barriers.
HOPE clients become students for up to 12 weeks, Monday through Friday, 9am – 5pm, to learn the foundations of achieving the job they want. Then they secure an unpaid internship, where for 200 hours they gain experience, references, and a professional network to help them in their job search.

“The HOPE Program is responsible for connecting hundreds of unemployed individuals to careers each year. We are so grateful for the partnership and support of Brooklyn Community Foundation,” says HOPE Executive Director Jennifer Mitchell. “In addition to financial support, the Community Foundation has encouraged us to think in new and creative ways, provided essential input, and helped us to share our mission across the borough.



Roughly 70% of HOPE graduates find full-time employment; of that group, 70% still have the same job a year later.  Last year, HOPE worked with over 400 alumni on job retention and advancement.

“HOPE helped me open up and gave me hope for a better future. I have a bank account for the first time in my life. And, I’m setting a better example for my daughter.”
– Hope Graduate
Their resumes now say social service worker, paralegal, office assistant, food preparer, cook, maintenance worker, customer service representative, and healthcare professional—the first jobs toward a new career.

“Sobriety brought me clarity, but it also made me doubt my skills and self-worth. I worked with HOPE’s counselors to re-gain confidence in myself and my work.  Because of them, I succeeded in my internship and I now have a paid job.”  – Hope Graduate

HOPE is just one example of the life-changing work our Community Development Fund grantee partners are doing throughout our neighborhoods to build the foundation for a Brooklyn economy that is flourishing and rich with opportunity for all of our residents.

Save the date!
Brooklyn Community Foundation President Marilyn Gelber will give the keynote speech at the Hope Program’s annual Achievement Ceremony on June 5th. Details.


What's "Good" in Brooklyn

Here are a few highlights of news and events we’ve shared with our followers this week. Don’t miss a thing! Like us at and follow us at

Calling All Nonprofits: Brooklyn's Volunteers Need You!
The Brooklyn Community Foundation will officially launch a new Brooklyn-centric volunteer initiative the first week of June at (explore the beta site until then). We're matching Brooklynites with volunteer opportunities at innovative nonprofits across our 70 neighborhoods. At this time, we're asking all nonprofits and community associations with volunteer needs to register on the site and post opportunities. To get started, email

Brooklyn Food Conference
Join us and approximately 5,000 other Brooklynites next Saturday, May 12 at Brooklyn Tech High School in Fort Greene, for a free all-day conference on our local food system, led by the Brooklyn Food Coalition. The event will feature keynotes from notable food activists, workshops, panel discussions, food demos, family programming, art and much more. Learn more at

Support Brooklyn's Historic Sites
Partners in Preservation, a joint effort of American Express and the National Trust for Historic Places, is holding a public vote of 40 NYC historic places competing for grant funds--including Weeksville Heritage Center and the Brooklyn Public Library Main Branch (currently in 1st place!). This weekend, see the sites for yourself at Open Houses across the city, or watch videos of their stories produced by our Arts for All Fund grantee Reel Works here. Vote each day for your pick until May 21st. Details at

“I Love My Park Day” with Governor Cuomo in Williamsburg
This Saturday, May 5 at 12pm at the East River State Park, Governor Cuomo and volunteers will participate in clean-up, beautification and stewardship--one of dozens of events at more than 35 parks and historic sites statewide. To register, visit:





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