Commonpoint Queens announced plans to open a youth opportunity hub in Jamaica Oct. 25. This groundbreaking space will be responsible for helping and supporting young people to follow their dreams.
An extensive needs assessment was undertaken by Commonpoint Queens prior to the decision to open the youth opportunity hub. More than 4,000 Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) participants were surveyed and ten Queens high school principals were interviewed. Additionally, Commonpoint Queens spoke with community board members and listened to the concerns of the community. The research from this resulted in the conclusion that such an innovative and transformative center would greatly benefit youths in the area.
According to Commonpoint Queens, this youth opportunity hub is founded on the premise that entrepreneurial thinking in adolescents and young adults is a key driver in developing responsibility, integrity, intellectual curiosity, passion, judgment and focus. They also believe entrepreneurship helps to foster innovation and economic growth. The youth hub is meant to cultivate critical and innovative thinking, broaden the interests of neuro-diverse young people and give individualized support services.
“The transition to adulthood can be particularly difficult for low-income, minority, LGBTQIA+, immigrant and special needs adolescents and young adults,” a Commonpoint Queens spokesperson said. “Our program aims to provide wraparound social services that include food, legal and financial support, mental health counseling and ‘soft skills’ training, like reliability and working well with others. These skills will help address the barriers that may hinder participants from successful completion of the program and into stable employment that pays a living wage and offers the opportunity for advancement.”
Youth hub participants will have the opportunity to take part in culinary arts, fitness, creative arts, sound engineering studio and training lab programs. They will also be trained in both back-of-house and front-of-house skills, gain real-world experience, confidence in a public-facing environment and the ability to move into a range of careers.
The youth opportunity hub will also help in the development of post-secondary plans related to college. Career topics will encourage student inquiry in essential college readiness skills, financial literacy education and career exploration. The youths will receive access to resources catered to their interests.
The facility is housed in the T-building. The T-building originally acted as a municipal tuberculosis sanatorium before merging with the Queens General Hospital in the 1950s and later converted into a general hospital in the 1970s. The building was turned into a 200-unit affordable housing community, with Dunn Development Corp. performing the renovations. In January of 2019, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Commonpoint Queens is a social service organization that works to meet the needs of the borough’s diverse population. The organization prides itself as a source for people of all ages and backgrounds to come together and find support, access opportunities and build connections to the community throughout their lives.