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New community bonds are being built in the heart of New Rochelle as Pathways to Apprenticeship, Inc. (P2A) has partnered with Westhab, through a contract funded by the New Rochelle Industrial Development Agency (NRIDA), on a Pre-Apprenticeship Pilot Program designed to connect unemployed and underemployed New Rochelle residents with a construction pre-apprenticeship program. The program trains and prepares individuals to move into union apprenticeships where they will be sent out to work and receive free training in an “earn - while - learn” model. Program supporters include the City’s Master Developer, RXR Realty.
The first class of 12 New Rochelle residents graduated on August 21st, and the effort to find opportunities for placement for the graduates is currently underway.
In 2017, the City selected Westhab to operate the First Source Referral Center (FSRC) to ensure that residents of the City obtain the training and opportunities created by the unprecedented downtown revitalization. The First Source Referral Center provides free job training and job placement assistance to all New Rochelle residents seeking employment. Since the program’s inception, 656 New Rochelle residents have obtained employment, as of July 2020.
The new Pre-Apprenticeship Pilot Program, which will supplement FSRC’s existing program, is designed to support the City of New Rochelle’s Economic Opportunity and Non-Discrimination Policy. The goal is to help the City and developers fulfill the goals and requirements detailed in the Policy, including local hiring of targeted workers and opportunity youth, along with the new apprenticeship employment requirements for prime contractors.
P2A recruits, trains, and mentors people from low-income communities—including the formerly incarcerated, people on public assistance, and people living in public housing—to succeed in construction union apprenticeship programs in New York City and Westchester County. P2A, working with the Westchester and Putnam County Building Trades, serves as a link between community organizations that assist low-income communities and the building trades industry. Since its founding in 2013, P2A has trained and placed hundreds of individuals in union apprenticeship programs. Graduates have gone on to become full journey workers, shop stewards, and leaders in their union and in their communities.
New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson said, “"As our local economy grows, New Rochelle is eager to create meaningful opportunities for employment and career development. This exciting partnership with Pathways to Apprenticeship will augment the excellent work of the First Source Referral Center and help ensure that the benefits of downtown development are shared broadly and equitably."
City Manager Charles B. Strome III, Chair of the New Rochelle IDA / CLD said, “As New Rochelle continues to rebound, recover and reimage its downtown environment through innovation and opportunity for all residents, this exciting partnership with Pathways to Apprenticeship and FSRC will help promote career development and growth in the heart of our city. I look forward to seeing these first group of graduates applying their skills to help build a better future right here in New Rochelle.”
New Rochelle Development Commissioner Luiz Aragon said, “New Rochelle has always been a city that opens doors of opportunity for its community through important partnerships like Pathways to Apprenticeship and FSRC to help ensure our local workforce continues to grow, alongside our downtown revitalization. Building these partnerships is helping New Rochelle build a better future for our city.”
Executive Director of Pathways to Apprenticeship Melissa Shetler said, “Pathways to Apprenticeship is glad to be a part of bringing middle-class career opportunities to residents of New Rochelle, and to furthering the work of ensuring that those historically left out of the benefits of economic development can instead be central players in the planning, implementation, and rewards of such investments. We thank our partners in helping us to build the trust and relationships needed to succeed in our mission and we hope that this is just the beginning of the work we can do together.”
President of the Westchester and Putnam County Building and Construction Trades Council Eddie Doyle said, “We are thrilled to finally see this groundbreaking pre-apprenticeship class come to New Rochelle. Pre-apprenticeship programs like this are a model for Westchester County. These programs bring labor and community together to ensure that local residents access union apprenticeship programs and gain lifelong middle-class careers. Here in Westchester County, and in New Rochelle, we are experiencing a building boom. This building boom should create good union jobs and a real career path for local residents. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. By working together, labor, community, and government, we can make sure that these projects create more than just a temporary job -- they can create middle-class union careers for local residents.”
Westhab President & CEO Richard Nightingale said, “Westhab is excited to deepen the impact of the FSRC. Through our partnership with the City of New Rochelle, the FSRC will now be able to deliver the training our customers need to achieve living wage careers in the building trades. Living wage jobs with career ladders are the key to self-sufficiency and upward economic mobility and exemplify the mission of the center.”
CEO and Chairman of RXR Realty Scott Rechler said, "Congratulations to the first class of Pathways to Apprenticeship trainees and everyone involved in moving this program forward! As we push forward in revitalizing the downtown New Rochelle and kick-starting the regional economy in partnership with the City of New Rochelle, pre-apprenticeship programs like P2A and other training programs will be vital in getting people back to work."
New Rochelle Alliance for Justice (NRAJ) member Rev. Wallace L. Noble from Saint Catherine AME Zion Church said: “NRAJ brought P2A to our community and our city and worked hard to make it a reality. The pre-apprenticeship program is getting New Rochelle residents from Black and brown communities ready to enter the unionized construction trades. We look forward to continuing to work together to bring such opportunities to more New Rochelle residents.”
Pathways to Apprenticeship graduate James Laurent said, “My experience with P2A has been a real eye opener for me. It has taught me many life values and also instilled in me the proper skill sets to position me on the right path for the unionized construction industry. I can gladly say that P2A has given me a chance towards an equal, fair shot at a great career. “
Jesus Cervantes, AWS-Certified Welder and program graduate, said, “Pathways to Apprenticeship has given me an opportunity to change my life. I’m 26 years old and I’ve been working two jobs, 50 to 60 hour weeks in restaurants as a server and a chef since I was 16. Still, my family and I were barely scraping by and I never had time for my family or myself. When I learned about unions, I saw an opportunity to change my life and to be successful in the long run, to set myself and my family up for the future. In these past 6 weeks of Pre-Apprenticeship training, I’ve learned what a difference a person can make in their community, and Pathways to Apprenticeship has opened the door to a career in the trades for me.”
About the City of New Rochelle: With its unparalleled location, superb quality of life, diverse and talented residents and a focused business climate, New Rochelle is experiencing the transformation of a generation. The City’s current economic development plan will provide a spark for the entire Hudson Valley region, positioning the city as “open for business” and embracing smart, transit-oriented development growth patterns that promotes open space, its close proximity to New York City and opportunities for businesses to rebound, recover and succeed in the current economic climate. Accelerated by a new, fast-track zoning process along with resources for small businesses and micro-enterprises, the ongoing Master Development initiative will continue to enhance the downtown area by supporting job creation, property values and private investment – while enhancing sustainability and livability through green and energy-efficient design. For more information on why New Rochelle is ideally yours, please visit https://www.ideallynewrochelle.com.
About Westhab: Yonkers-based Westhab, Inc. is Westchester’s largest provider of housing and services for the homeless and its largest nonprofit developer of affordable and supportive housing. Since Westhab’s founding in 1981, they have built 912 affordable housing units, moved 8,157 households from homelessness into affordable housing, placed 6,207 people into employment, and delivered services to over 10,000 homeless and at-risk youth. Visit the First Source Referral Center at 247 North Avenue in New Rochelle or https://www.westhab.org/first-source/.
About Pathways to Apprenticeship: Pathways to Apprenticeship (“P2A”) is a Direct Entry pre-apprenticeship program which recruits, trains, and mentors people from low-income communities for placement and success in union construction apprenticeship programs in New York City and Westchester County. Our primary focus is on serving justice involved individuals and people who live in public housing. We have seen first-hand how careers in the building trades lead to solid middle-class careers with security and benefits, and can help lift families and communities out of poverty. For more information, visit https://p2atrades.org/