Investing in Brooklyn's Workforce Development

October 28, 2011

Above: a student driver in Brooklyn Workforce Innovations' Red Hook on the Road job training program.


First the good news: Business is booming in Brooklyn.

According to the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, Brooklyn gained 50,000 jobs over the past decade in spite of the recession, increasing its job count by 11.3 percent—the best of any borough in New York City.

And Brooklyn is leading the city in new business creation: 10,300 firms have started in Brooklyn since 2000—a 27% increase.

Now, even better news: Brooklyn Community Foundation is making sure more Brooklynites—particularly those who would otherwise linger in unemployment lines—are trained and placed at local businesses.

Through our Community Development Fund, we’ve provided grant support to dynamic nonprofit organizations such as Gowanus-based
Brooklyn Workforce Innovations, whose training and certificate programs put jobless or under-employed Brooklynites on the path to becoming commercial drivers, cable installers, skilled woodworkers, film and television production professionals, and public housing caretakers.

BWI trains 700 individuals a year through its various programs. The people they serve have inconsistent or minimal work histories. They may not have finished high school, they may be young mothers, or have never held an on-the-books job. Quite a few have spent time behind bars.

Free training and credentialing programs help BWI’s clients gain skills to put a new career and decent wages within reach. Last year, the average starting wage for a BWI graduate was almost $13 an hour, 76 percent higher than minimum wage.

Along our historic East River waterfront, the
Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation is on the verge of opening their BLDG 92 Visitors Center—a marriage of the Yard’s history as a builder of ships and its current role as a builder of businesses.

Starting Veteran’s Day (November 11th), the three-story brick building at the corner of Flushing Avenue and Carlton Avenue will be home to six exhibition galleries and ongoing programs exploring the Yard’s past, as well as BNYDC’s new employment center and workforce training program led by BWI.

At BLDG 92, which the Brooklyn Community Foundation has supported with $50,000 in grants, the Navy Yard is connecting their present with their past, and making job training and placement opportunities more accessible to the community, particularly for local residents of public housing.

Join us in helping more Brooklynites find employment. Learn more about our support of Brooklyn’s workforce through our Community Development Fund, and how you can contribute, here.

What's Happening Across Brooklyn 
Here are a few highlights of news and events we’ve shared with our followers this week. Don’t miss a thing! Like us at and follow us at

Cutting the Ribbon on Red Hook Homes
Congratulations to the new homeowners at Red Hook Homes, the neighborhood's largest affordable mixed-income housing project. The Brooklyn Community Foundation was an early supporter of the development, providing a $3-million Project Related Investment to Fifth Avenue Committee, which will be repaid and reinvested in Brooklyn, so that we can do even more good right here!