BRONX, NY (July 19, 2018) – In an effort to expand green job training services in local communities, Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx) announced the relocation of its green jobs training programs to Hunts Point. Sustainable South Bronx is a subsidiary of The HOPE Program (HOPE), a highly effective workforce development organization empowering New Yorkers to build brighter futures through training, jobs and career advancement.
Sustainable South Bronx was founded in Hunts Point in 2001 and played a vital role in community redevelopment projects, including the creation of the Hunts Point Riverside and Barretto Point Parks, as well as critical shoreline remediation and hazardous waste cleanup. With 41% of Hunts Point residents living below the poverty line due in large part to the negative environmental impacts of the neighborhood’s industrial and commercial facilities, SSBx is proud to return to its roots and continue to invest in a community in need.
“We are thrilled to return to Hunts Point where SSBx was founded and we are so appreciative of the warm welcome we have received from our neighbors and peer organizations working so creatively to provide more opportunities in this community,” said Jennifer Mitchell, Executive Director of The HOPE Program and SSBx. “This is a particularly exciting time for us as we move to a new home and launch programs which will result in a 150% increase in services over just three years ago. We owe enormous gratitude to the Bronx partners who have made this possible.”
The site will host three distinct green jobs training programs. SSBx, the organization’s signature program, offers 12 weeks of full-time training and combines classroom learning with hands-on experience in the field. Graduates earn certifications in OSHA-30, flagging, scaffolding, CPR and others. The second program, NYC °CoolRoofs is a collaboration with the New York City Department of Small Business Services through which unemployed New Yorkers earn wages in transitional jobs coating rooftops to improve energy efficiency in heat vulnerable communities across New York City. In partnership with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, Intervine, (the organization’s newest program launching in the second half of 2018) will provide 45 New Yorkers with paid training in solar installation and green infrastructure to help divert them from the criminal justice system.
Across all programs, participants receive mental health support, financial literacy, resume-writing and interviewing support, digital literacy, access to a broad network of employers and a lifetime of career support services to drive long-term retention and career advancement. As a result of this comprehensive approach, SSBx consistently places up to 80% of graduates in permanent employment at wages well above minimum wage.
SSBx welcomed many partners and supporters to the ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening of its new facility, notably New York State Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, New York City Councilman Rafael Salamanca Jr., Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., and the Office of New York State Senator Jeff Klein.
“I am thrilled to be welcoming back Sustainable South Bronx to Hunts Point, the community where it all began 17 years ago,” said Council Member Rafael Salamanca Jr. “From being a leading environmental advocacy voice to providing green job training programs, Sustainable South Bronx is educating and preparing what we hope will be a greener, cleaner and safer future. I’m proud to support Sustainable South Bronx and The HOPE Program and commend them for returning to the South Bronx and investing in the local community.”
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., said: "Poverty and unemployment are criminal justice issues. Through my Office's Criminal Justice Investment Initiative, I was honored to invest $1.9 million in the HOPE Program, which not only employs at-risk and reentering New Yorkers, but works toward an environmentally sustainable future for us all. Social enterprises like HOPE's Intervine program provide paths to opportunity and self-sufficiency for New Yorkers that face significant barriers to employment – particularly those returning to their communities from jail or prison. I am honored to support their work in this exciting and growing field."
Jose Roman, a recent graduate of the SSBx program, shared his journey: “When I got my fireguard certification, it was the first card I ever had in my wallet other than food stamps. I’m still beaming. Now I have OSHA-10, OSHA-30, CPR and a few others. This is going to open up a lot of doors for me. I recently finished the program, and now I have goals. I’m going to get a construction job, permanent housing, and finally be a role model to my son.”
In addition to its relocation, The HOPE Program and SSBx are celebrating many recent successes. In October 2017 the non-profit landed the largest contract in its history with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to expand an innovative green social enterprise model and provide training and work experience in green infrastructure and solar installation. In addition, the organization was most recently selected by the Citi Foundation as the recipient of a $500,000 grant as part of its 2018 Community Progress Makers Fund. The Fund is a $20 million, two-year initiative by the Citi Foundation to support high-impact community organizations that are driving economic opportunities in communities by bringing together residents, nonprofits, businesses and municipal agencies.
SSBx’s new facility is nearly 5,000 square feet, three times the size of its previous training site, that includes a classroom, student lounge, kitchen, workshop and hands-on learning space. The building is located at 1360 Garrison Avenue, accessible by the 6 train at the Hunts Point station, the 2/5 on Simpson Street, or the Bx6 SBS bus on Garrison Avenue.