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Employment Through Social Enterprise With Reconnect Brooklyn

Valley National Bank (Honorable Mention) - Brooklyn, New York

2020 Community Commitment Awards Submission

  • Entry Categories: Financial Education, Economic Inclusion
  • Asset Size: Medium

Valley Bank is involved with Reconnect Brooklyn, a neighborhood based non-profit organization that helps young men, ages 17-24, by providing foundation for a professional career. Bedford Stuyvesant, a community which mostly consists of people of color, was plagued with the consequences of intergenerational neglect and poverty. According to NYU's Furman Center, poverty in Bedford Stuyvesant was 27% compared to the 17.3% of the city. The profile of a young man who enters Reconnect is 20 years old, a person of color, not in school, not working, with no employment history, with some experience with the criminal justice system, and is living below the poverty line. Those formerly incarcerated, homeless, and those stuck in poverty want to work. Passionate program Director, Father O'Shea envisioned a space where skills made from prior offenses could be transformed into something positive and legal, especially without consequences. Reconnect's goal was to teach entrepreneurship through firsthand experience of business operations within Bedford Stuyvesant. This included creating economic opportunities for Reconnect youth to work, teaching them about the possible opportunities for the future, and reenergizing the confidence within themselves through mentorship. In Bedford Stuyvesant, a “corner” store served as the root of the neighborhood; thus, Reconnect's plan was to attract youth by creating a corner store to serve as a pillar in the community.