Photo courtesy of Commonpoint Queens
Rofeeah Ayeni, is one of the Cord Meyer interns who is working at Sapphire Digital, a technology company.

Following the April suspension of New York City’s popular Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Commonpoint Queens is offering internships to local youth after receiving a $30,000 donation from a local development company.

Forest Hills-based Cord Meyer Development, whose portfolio of properties includes the Bay Terrace Shopping Center and Bay Lane Estates in Bayside, and retail and office tenants throughout Queens, allocated the funding to Commonpoint Queens to underwrite summer internships for local youth. 

“These young men and women are our future and deserve every advantage, particularly during this difficult period,” said Anthony Colletti, chief operating officer of Cord Meyer Development. “We share a long history of community support with Commonpoint Queens and are honored to provide funding for their critically important work-readiness programs.” 

Upon learning that the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development had canceled the internship program this summer, Commonpoint Queens turned to Cord Meyer Development for help to continue the program, according to Danielle Ellman, CEO of Commonpoint Queens. 

“Over the years we have partnered with Cord Meyer on various projects and they immediately agreed to help fund the program,” Ellman said. “Their generous donation will provide 12 internships, enabling us to continue offering today’s youth pathways out of poverty and into long-term success.”

With the cancellation of the New York City SYEP program, Commonpoint Queens will not receive reimbursement for its administrative costs. 

“It is only through the generosity of companies like Cord Meyer that we are able to keep our commitment to our young people,” Ellman said. “We made the decision to absorb the administrative costs of the internship program knowing that low-income youth are the least likely group to have the connections needed to chart their careers. Summer internships become the network that can open doors and provide opportunities.”

Jeremy E., a Human Resources intern at New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG), thanked Cord Meyer for its generous support giving valuable experiences to young people who are able to land an internship at law, financial, and other prestigious firms. 

Jeremy E. (Photo courtesy of Commonpoint Queens)

“This internship will truly be inspiring me to lend a helping hand to my own community as you did,” Jeremy said. “Your donation has opened me to a professional network, built an amazing resume, transformed my communication skills, and most importantly, developed my passion for the business workforce. People like you are giving diverse young people from all backgrounds the opportunity to challenge the status quo and achieve success for the future.”

Shania Cox, who is a part of a low-income household and is also interning at Sapphire Digital, is honored to be working at the company.

Shania Cox (Photo courtesy of Commonpoint Queens)

“This would be a bit of a relief not only for myself but for my mom as well. Additionally, I am grateful to have something to do over the summer that aligns with my interests which is something that I was worried about since this pandemic started and things got canceled and closed,” Cox said. 

Rofeeah Ayeni, an intern at Sapphire Digital, said it gives her hope that she can work to accomplish her future goals. 

“Being able to have exposure to the working environment gives me the chance to explore my options in the field of technology,” Ayeni said. 

Commonpoint Queens’ internship programs offer local youth the opportunity to work with companies to place eligible applicants in a high-quality, meaningful internship. 

Its internship program is a competitive career readiness training program that culminates in a paid summer internship for young people ages 16 to 21. In addition to the internship experience, all Commonpoint Queens internship program participants receive 20 to 30 hours of pre-employment training, equipping them with crucial workplace skills. The orientation teaches essential job skills such as resume and professional email writing and etiquette, mock interviews, and how to dress and conduct yourself in an office. 

The organization also partners with its worksites to identify and vet potential interns. Companies can invest in the long-term success of young people in two ways. First, by partnering with Commonpoint Queens to employ interns. Second, to subsidize an intern or interns at a nonprofit organization. The cost to subsidize one intern is $2,500.

For more information or to see how you can help contribute to a meaningful employment experience for the youth, contact Danielle Glick, Assistant Vice President of High School and College Success, at DGlick@commonpointqueens.org.


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