Career Programs for Syracuse City Youth Expanding With Grants

Photo Caption: Mark Muhammad of Cornell University (left) and Syracuse University grad Jameel Shareef meet during On Point for College’s pilot Men’s Mentoring and Empowerment Networking session.

September 30, 2014 – According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 10.9 percent of last year’s college graduates were unemployed after graduation, and many more entered the workforce at or below minimum wage. First-generation college students are affected at a higher rate than other graduates because they often lack the soft skills and professional connections that can lead to career employment opportunities.

Two local nonprofit organizations are addressing this problem head-on by making career development and professional mentorship opportunities available to Central New York high school students and graduates, many of whom are first-generation college students. On Point for College’s Mentoring/Empowerment Networking program and the Spanish Action League of Onondaga County’s Youth and Careers program will be expanding efforts with the help of grants from the Central New York Community Foundation.

On Point for College, a college access and retention program that helps low-income, inner-city youth from Syracuse to enroll in and succeed at college, is expanding On Point for Jobs with the Mentoring/Empowerment Networking program. It aims to improve the chances of career success by providing transportation, proper interview attire, professional connections and training materials. A $23,984 grant from the Community Foundation will support opportunities including resume advisement, career interest assessments and workshops, interviewing skills and mentorships with career professionals.

“This expanded scope of On Point for Jobs supports our vision for college students to complete a college degree and start a meaningful career so that they can lift themselves out of poverty and contribute to the workforce and their community,” said Virginia Donohue, On Point Executive Director.

A program of the Spanish Action League of Onondaga County addresses similar barriers faced by Hispanic students. In the City of Syracuse, Hispanics have the second highest unemployment rate at 8 percent. Nationally, 22.6 percent of Hispanics live in poverty, according to the 2010 Census.

Spanish Action League’s new Youth and Careers program aims to break down employment barriers faced by Hispanic youth by introducing them to potential professions and promoting the benefits of stable employment. The Community Foundation awarded Spanish Action League a $33,000 grant to administer the program.

Through this program, children will be encouraged to explore careers that appeal to them, hear from Hispanic professionals they can relate to, and assist with the building of an “ideal community” reflecting lessons learned. Case management consultants will help family members assess their own education and employment needs within the household.

“This program takes youth on a journey from idea exploration, to educational and professional expectations, to actually being a part of the ideal community they envisioned at the beginning of the year,” said Rita Paniagua, Spanish Action League Executive Director. “Combining resources between our Youth and Employment/Careers programs will allow us to help students and family members to reach their potential.”

Additional Grants Awarded

The Community Foundation also awarded grants to programs in the fields of arts & culture, education, environment, human services and civic affairs:

ARISE at the Farm received $20,000 to build an inclusive playground at its location in Chittenango that is fully accessible by children with disabilities.

Fenner Renewable Energy Education Center received $4,000 to conduct strategic planning at the Madison County wind farm that educates visitors on renewable energy sources, production, and conservation.

Food Bank of CNY received $30,000 to purchase a transport vehicle that will provide the organization with the capacity to accept all donated food items available from retailers.

Loretto Health & Rehabilitation Center received $16,620 to transform the lobby area of the Cunningham-Fahey Skilled Nursing Facility into a welcome space for residents and families to gather, visit and participate in activities.

Point of Contact received $10,000 to upgrade its audio/visual system to better exhibit contemporary arts projects from around the world.

Somali Bantu Community Association received $9,587 to open a computer lab to train and assist refugee students and adults, as well as area residents, in achieving their educational and employment goals.

Syracuse Shakespeare Festival received $3,100 to produce No Bully Shakespeare program to help elementary and middle school students recognize and overcome bullying situations.

Syracuse Urban Renewal Agency received $30,000 to conduct public dialogue and develop conceptual designs for the redesign of the New City Park in Downtown Syracuse.

Town of Salina received $7,000 to rehabilitate deteriorated baseball fields at Wemsfelder Park in collaboration with the Liverpool Girl’s Softball League.

About the Central New York Community Foundation

Established in 1927, the Central New York Community Foundation encourages local philanthropy by supporting the growth of permanent charitable endowments for the betterment of the region.  The Community Foundation is the largest charitable foundation in the region with assets of more than $172 million. It awarded $9.5 million in grants last year to nonprofit organizations and since its inception has invested nearly $130 million in the community. The Community Foundation serves as the steward of charitable legacies for individuals, families and businesses through the administration of nearly 650 funds. The organization also serves as a civic leader, convener and sponsor of special initiatives designed to strengthen local nonprofits and address the region’s most pressing challenges.


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