100 Suits for 100 Men celebrates launch of Queens youth employment training initiative

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Business owners and organization leaders joined Congresswoman Grace Meng and Kevin Livingston, founder and CEO of the 100 Suits organization, to launch the Empower Queens Workforce and Entrepreneurship program in Pomonok on Thursday, July 6.
(Courtesy of Meng’s office)

Business owners and organization leaders joined Congresswoman Grace Meng and Kevin Livingston, founder and CEO of the 100 Suits organization, to celebrate the launch of the Empower Queens Workforce & Entrepreneurship program outside of Pomonok Houses on Thursday, July 6. 

Community leaders were gathered at the intersection of Jewel Avenue and Parsons Boulevard in front of the Pomonok Houses sign to announce the new borough-wide initiative. 

Those in attendance included Aaron Amborse, Queens director for Governor Kathy Hochul, Senator Leroy Comrie, Lorraine Chambers Lewis, executive director of Long Island Jewish Forest Hills, and Suk Kim, newly appointed president of the Korean American Association of Greater NY. 

“As we continue to advocate for increased initiatives that work towards decreasing violence, we are taking direct action by expanding workforce opportunities to those of our vulnerable demographics across Queens who could utilize them most. We are very excited to launch the program and are grateful for the continued support of reaching 100 Suits’ mission and vision.” 

Kevin Livingston, founder and CEO of the 100 Suits organization (r.), announces and celebrate the launch of “Empower Queens – Workforce and Entrepreneurship Program,” during a press conference outside of Pomonok Houses on Thursday, July 6.Courtesy of 100 Suits

100 Suits is a nonprofit community development organization offering in-school support, mediation, comprehensive support and services and community violence intervention and prevention in addition to workforce development for youth and those returning from incarceration. 100 Suits ensures Queens neighborhoods receive resources and ongoing services as they recover from the coronavirus pandemic. 

Livingston thanked Meng, who secured $750,000 to launch the group’s boroughwide youth employment training initiative. 

“I’m proud to have secured this federal funding that will go a long way towards helping and empowering so many from the neighborhoods I represent,” Meng said. “This includes our local youth as well as our seniors. It will create jobs for young people so that they stay off the streets and earn a paycheck, all while providing older adults and vulnerable individuals with the assistance they need, such as delivering them food and other important necessities. This program will also include crucial wraparound services for our young people, and hiring them for jobs will help provide them with many of the tools they need to succeed in life. Our young people are our future. We must make the needed investments to ensure the next generation’s success, which in turn ensures the future success of our borough, city, state and nation.”

Young adult residents (between the ages of 16 to 24) of Pomonok Houses will have an opportunity to enroll in the Empower Queens program, an incubator for workforce development and entrepreneurship. This one-year program connects youth to Commonpoint Queens’ Workforce Development Services and offers them coaching, case management and mentorship from industry experts. Youth enrolled will be placed at competitive externships and receive entrepreneurial coaching. 

Comrie, along with other community leaders, congratulated Meng and Livingston. 

“I wasn’t really surprised but pleased because Kevin is everywhere.” Comrie said. “He is trying to create opportunities, network and his desire to impact people. He  [Kevin] is building a coalition and working across the cultural divide is no small feat. We need to infuse Pomonok with some hope, opportunity and a way to lift our young people up to get them to another level.”

Isaiah Brown, from b/k/a Leaky Roof, a local neighborhood and social media basketball influencer, said he was honored to stand alongside 100 Suits and Meng to announce the workforce initiative.

“On July 29, we will be holding our second annual Leaky Roof day basketball tournament right here in our basketball courts and I’m excited to further these types of initiatives with the support of leaders like those here with us today. I look forward to utilizing events like mine to bridge the gap and our ongoing partnerships,” Brown said. 

Yi Andy Chen, advisor of the Glow Community Center & Coalition of Asian American for Civil Rights, noted that investing in young generations means investing in a brighter future. 

“By moving this funding of $750,000 for a project that is going to build a pipeline of future Leaders ,that is really going to help our shared communities in many good impacts,” Chen said. “We must keep fighting for the resources and assistance for our communities, building a platform where we can guide, motivate and empower more people to do the same.”