News from FedcapWildcat Neighborhood Improvement Program Graduates 96
On Jan. 18, Fedcap celebrated 96 graduates of the groundbreaking Neighborhood Improvement Program (NIP) operated by our Wildcat Service Corp. division. Nine other participants who started this 19-week session resigned before it ended because they went directly into jobs.
NIP, now in its second full year, provides transitional employment and vocational and work-readiness training to public assistance recipients, ex-offenders and/or residents of homeless shelters. All members of the cohort that graduated Jan. 18 are single parents with minor children. Participants spend two days a week in classrooms at Fedcap’s 19th Street facility, and three days a week cleaning and beautifying New York City neighborhoods that have been hit hard by the foreclosure crisis.
“This is not an easy program. You have been tested and you have prevailed,” NIP Director Andrew Lewis told the graduates. “What’s more, the greater New York City community owes you a debt of gratitude.”
This NIP cohort cleaned thousands of city blocks and cleared hundreds of thousands of gallons of trash, prompting thanks and tears of gratitude from local residents. One chance field-work meeting with a Brooklyn resident led to a job for NIP participant Miriam Zapata-Marrero, who started work as an administrative assistant the day after graduation. Ms. Zapata-Marrero credits NIP staff with making training thoroughly enjoyable, and helping her develop a positive outlook as well as many practical and soft skills. She is thrilled to be setting an example for her 19-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son.
Wednesday’s graduates completed 125 hours of work readiness training and 112 hours of New York State-approved vocational training in Culinary Arts, Pharmacy Tech, Custodial Maintenance and Customer Service, in addition to their 400 hours of field work beautifying and maintaining neighborhoods in Queens, Staten Island, Brooklyn and the Bronx. Almost 90 percent of the graduates passed the National Work Readiness Credential exam, and all 18 Customer Service students passed the National Retail Federation Customer Service exam.
NIP graduates next report to the Wildcat/NYC Human Resources Administration Back to Work program for 90 days of intensive job search and placement services. All will also have access to Fedcap’s full array of training and job placement activities. Graduate Mercado Green, a Marine Corps veteran, member of the U.S. Army Reserves and father of an 11-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son, is exploring Fedcap’s Veteran Services programs.
Graduates enthusiastically applauded and cheered the NIP staff. Said Tmar Gulston, one of two recipients of the NIP Attitude is Altitude Award,: “For me, this program was all about a resurgence of confidence, a refresher of back-to-work skills – and the great people I met.”
The other awardee, Nadia Pollidore, read a poem she had composed for the occasion and said: “Congratulations to all of you, especially the people struggling with external and internal issues, child care and homelessness.”
On Oct. 15, 2011, Staten Island officials honored NIP with a Public Service Award for its work in the borough’s Stapleton area.