Queens residents and small businesses will benefit from broader and more equitable access to job training and development under a $350,000 initiative announced late last month by Citizens Financial Group Inc.
The new partnership includes Pursuit, Rockaway Development & Revitalization Corporation (RDRC) and Ocean Bay Community Development Corporation and will focus on much-needed technical skills training and career counseling in Queens.
Citizens will provide $250,000 and become the lead funder of Pursuit’s Bridge to Technology Program, moving it from a pilot program and integrating it into its cycle of recruitment.
The announcement was made at Pursuit’s Long Island City headquarters where the social impact organization empowers low-income adults with the training and skills needed to get hired and retained into high-paying software engineering careers.
“Talent is everywhere, and now more than ever, New Yorkers from all backgrounds need a visible pathway to transformative, long-term economic opportunity, not merely job placement,” Pursuit Co-Founder and CEO Jukay Hsu said. “This landmark funding from Citizens helps remove socioeconomic barriers to accelerate tech training while empowering individuals throughout Queens with the skills and technology to transform their futures.”
A Taiwanese immigrant raised in Flushing, Hsu joined the U.S. Army following his graduation from Harvard and led a rifle platoon in Iraq’s Sunni Triangle while overseeing economic development and governance initiatives for two Iraqi districts. Upon his return, Hsu launched Coalition 4 Queens (C4Q) to cultivate the borough’s diversity into a hub for technology and innovation. C4Q became Pursuit, which is now focused on citywide efforts.
“Together, we can deepen our engagement in local communities and build meaningful relationships that create lasting impact,” Hsu said.
Citizens will also commit $50,000 to fund Rockaway Development & Revitalization Corporation’s telecommunications workforce development program, which trains residents 18 to 24 years old to plan networks, lay cabling and service the network via their Cisco certification program.
“As we all continue to grapple with the effects of the pandemic, we are rapidly evolving into a workplace environment much more reliant on technology-based training and services,” RDRC President and CEO Kevin Alexander said. “This is a new workforce ecosystem for our students; for RDRC, we are not only reimagining how we deliver services but what those vocational training and certification programs should include. Citizens’ commitment helps our students navigate these uncharted waters and supports our goal to improve the quality of life for all that we serve.”
Citizens will also provide $50,000 in funding to Ocean Bay Community Development Corporation to allow the recruitment and enrollment of 30 Rockaway community members into a work readiness program to help define career paths while rebranding skills through resume revisions, industry-related job search techniques and interviewing skills.
“Since the start of Ocean Bay CDC in 1999, we have a strong track record of connecting individuals to career opportunities in the Rockaways,” Ocean Bay CDC Executive Director Ebony Beaty said. “It is our goal to help individuals obtain their personal and professional goals, not only helping their families but ultimately, the community at large. Even through tough workforce conditions, it is our mission to ensure that our program participants have equitable access to excellent opportunities to create a better life.”