Hope Expands To The Bronx!

The HOPE Program and Sustainable South Bronx Partner to Empower More Low-Income New Yorkers Striving for Self-Sufficiency

NEW YORK, October 13, 2015 – The HOPE Program (HOPE), a workforce development organization providing training, jobs and career advancement to New York City residents, and Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx), also a workforce nonprofit, have announced a formal strategic partnership strongly supported by both organizations’ Boards of Directors. The Bronx and Brooklyn – where SSBx and HOPE are based – are the boroughs with the highest unemployment rates in the City, each with hundreds of thousands of low-income residents seeking employment.

The partnership, which has received support from organizations like Robin Hood, New York City’s largest poverty-fighting organization and a significant funder of both organizations, represents the efforts of two of the City’s leading workforce development organizations to expand geographically and to share best practices in order to train more New Yorkers for career pathways in high-demand sectors, while simultaneously contributing to a greener New York.

“We are thrilled that HOPE and Sustainable South Bronx, both innovative workforce programs with complementary strengths and geographic footprints, are joining forces,” said Jennifer Mitchell, Executive Director of HOPE. “Our collective efforts will result in more robust training and career opportunities for our city’s residents actively seeking meaningful employment.”

Citing the importance of generating employment opportunities for low-income communities in the City, Ira W. De Camp Foundation, Macquarie Group, the New York Merger, Acquisition, and Collaboration Fund, Bronx Pro Real Estate, Goldman Sachs, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, Seward & Kissel LLP and generous individual supporters were instrumental in the development of the partnership.

HOPE, which is celebrating its 30th year of empowering New Yorkers from across the City to overcome acute employment challenges, has long-term job retention rates among the highest in the field, as reported by a recent national Workforce Benchmarking Network survey.

Founded in 2001, SSBx empowers residents of the South Bronx and other neighborhoods through job training with a focus on green construction and building operations/maintenance, social enterprise, and environmental stewardship. SSBx won a New York City Department of Small Business Services’ Workforce Innovation Award, which honors organizations that are “pioneering a creative and effective approach to workforce development.”

Mitchell will serve as the Executive Director of the combined entity. She has over 15 years’ experience leading highly effective workforce development programming and a background in environmental policy. She currently serves on the Board Executive Committee of the New York City Employment and Training Coalition.

“HOPE’s track record with long-term job retention for New Yorkers across the five boroughs, a true indicator of lasting change for trainees, coupled with SSBx’s deep-rooted knowledge in a growing high-wage sector, will ensure that the individuals we serve will receive the support and resources they need. At the same time, we are helping to address the City’s critical environmental needs,” shared Michael Brotchner, Executive Director of SSBx, who has transitioned to an advisory role.

The combined entity will fuel the further growth of SmartRoofs, LLC, the social enterprise of SSBx. SmartRoofs enables graduates of SSBx’s job training program to earn income through the business’s contracts to maintain green roofs, perform landscaping services, and conduct other environmental projects throughout the city.  The combined entity will also work closely with New York City’s Department of Small Business Services to implement the NYC CoolRoofs program, which provides transitional employment opportunities to Workforce1 clients who apply reflective coatings that increase building energy efficiency to rooftops across the city.  

In the short term, both organizations will operate under their current names.

Please contact Jennifer Mitchell at jmitchell@thehopeprogram.org for more information.

About The HOPE Program and SSBx
HOPE empowers New Yorkers living to lift themselves out of poverty through training, jobs and career advancement.  HOPE’s strength lies in our comprehensive and innovative programming, our evidence-based and employer-driven approach, and the transformative learning environment we offer to every New Yorker who walks through our doors.

HOPE offers two programs that provide a similar range of services and are tailored for different career trajectories. HOPEworks prepares students for diverse positions such as clerical, animal care, maintenance, social services and others, giving students the ability to explore career paths and develop a variety of job skills. FOODworks provides contextualized training for the growing food industry.

Sustainable South Bronx addresses economic and environmental issues in the South Bronx – and throughout New York City – through a combination of green job training and social enterprise.

Each academic year, SSBx offers two 14-week sessions of full-time training, serving approximately 60 men and women. Students first complete a series of core courses, including techniques to increase energy efficiency in homes, building maintenance, green technologies (e.g., solar power), retrofitting, lighting efficiency, insulation, and air sealing. Then students choose one of two tracks on which to focus the remainder of their studies: construction or building systems.

SSBx also operates SmartRoofs, LLC, an environmental social enterprise that creates transitional green jobs to training graduates, who gain valuable job experience while simultaneously earning income.


“Combining the strengths of the two organizations will directly help more New Yorkers get into good jobs and move up career pathways.  Adding the green jobs sector training to the HOPE portfolio of programs offers an additional career pathway for HOPE participants, and those in the Sustainable South Bronx green jobs program will have the opportunity to take advantage of the comprehensive services that HOPE offers.”  – Mary Ellen Clark, Executive Director, New York City Employment and Training Coalition

“The partnership between The HOPE Program (HOPE) and Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx) will help individuals build the skills they need for their careers and help them secure meaningful employment.  This partnership will focus on improving our environment through job training programs on maintaining green roofs, landscaping services, and environmental projects throughout the city.  The programs will help create new green jobs and stimulate our economy.  I thank HOPE and SSBx and look forward to seeing this partnership implemented.” – Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Council Environmental Protection Committee

“New York City’s Office of Workforce Development is deeply invested in expanding access to quality jobs in high-demand sectors, and we are excited to see new strategic partnerships to support Career Pathways.” – Katy Gaul-Stigge, Executive Director, Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development

“Too many communities across our City are still struggling with stubbornly high unemployment rates. This new partnership will go a long way to help connect New Yorkers in Brooklyn and the Bronx to the good jobs they need to get out of poverty. Our City only grows strong when we grow together, and I commend the HOPE Program and Sustainable South Bronx for their important work.” – Letitia James, New York City Public Advocate

“Job training and educational support are key to helping low-income New Yorkers build the skills they need to start fulfilling careers and support their families. I have seen the lasting positive impact that The HOPE Program has had on the lives of participants from my district year after year. The partnership between The HOPE Program and SSBx promises to bring together these proven strategies forworkforce development and a deep knowledge of the growing environmental sector. Training New Yorkers in valuable employment skills and connecting them to sought-after green jobs that make our city more resilient and sustainable is a win all around and I look forward to this partnership’s success.” – Stephen Levin, New York City Council, 33rd District

“We are pleased to have played a small part in making this transaction happen. By coming together HOPE and SSBx will help more people than they could have alone.” – John MacIntosh, Partner, SeaChange Capital Partners

“The partnership formed by The HOPE Program (HOPE) and Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx), will have considerable benefits for our residents, especially Bronxites. Together, via this concerted effort, these organizations will be able to enhance the work they already do—bridging the skills gap for New Yorkers. As a representative of a county (Bronx) with the highest unemployment rate in the state of New York, I am encouraged that this joint venture that will help our residents prepare for gainful employment, which will stimulate local economic development.” – Annabel Palma, New York City Council, 18th District

“Robin Hood is proud to be a 20-year partner of The HOPE Program, one of the most dynamic and effective workforce organizations in the city. We are excited to be part of the organization’s expansion to the Bronx and this opportunity for HOPE to lift many more New Yorkers out of poverty. “ – Eric Weingartner, Managing Director, Survival, Robin Hood Foundation

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