Tag Archives: Immigrants

Our Presentation in Connecticut

by Vanessa Bransburg, Cooperative Coordinator at Center for Family Life

A few months ago we were invited to visit Wililmantic, Connecticut to discuss the story of our cooperative development project. This is a short video from that day:


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Filed under Fair Work, Immigrants in NYC, Worker Cooperative Project

Sunset Park Alliance Celebrates Adult Literacy Week

Last week was National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week, an initiative that seeks to raise awareness and foster discussion about issues related to reading, numeracy, and English language learning. To celebrate the event, the Sunset Park Alliance, a coalition of community agencies, held an event to showcase the work of its members in providing innovative ESL and adult education services. As part of the event, participants from Alliance programs shared the impact these services had on their lives. Among those who spoke were members of the Center-supported cooperatives who are currently participating in ESL courses to improve their work-related language skills and earning potential.

Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott presents the mayor's proclamation to Alliance Director Stacie Sanchez. Photo: Laina Yoswein, SPA

Attendees at the event included Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, Fatima Shama, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Affairs, along with other city officials from the Mayor’s Office of Adult Education, the Office of Adult and Continuing Education of the NYC Department of Education and the New York City Workforce Investment Board.

The Sunset Park Alliance is a collaboration of six agencies, including Fifth Avenue Committee, Center for Family Life, Lutheran Family Health Center, Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow, Turning Point and Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corp. The Alliance provides comprehensive case management services, engaging youth in training programs and social services to help them achieve their educational and career goals.

Below is a slide show of pictures from the event. For more photos, check out the Alliance’s Facebook page.

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Filed under Center for Family Life, Community Development, Education, Immigrants in NYC, Worker Cooperative Project, Youth Development

Si Se Puede! in the Brooklyn Rail

In its September issue, the Brooklyn Rail magazine profiles the Si Se Puede! Women’s Cooperative. In recent years, the coop has been an outstanding success: it has provided its members with a steady source of income and drawn attention by the media and community groups seeking to replicate its model. With growth, however, members have come to face new challenges as they deliberate how to meet the ever-increasing demand for their services:

Like all coops, membership in Si Se Puede! requires participation in the day-to-day management of the business and there is work to be done beyond the payment of dues. For one, members must spend three hours a month promoting the coop to potential clients. This might mean staffing a table at a summer street fair or handing out Si Se Puede! literature in upscale Brooklyn neighborhoods.

This old-fashioned, grassroots outreach has paid off; the coop now has more than 1,300 people in its database—from one-time users to weekly clients. What’s more, they’ve scored work not only from individuals but also from yoga studios, stores, and a Fort Greene bed & breakfast.

In addition to doing outreach, members are also required to attend weekly meetings where business decisions are hashed out. (…) Current hot topics include how fast Si Se Puede! should grow. Should membership be capped, so that the coop remains small, or should it be opened to new members? If they choose to expand, will increased numbers inhibit participatory democracy? Can they avoid a more traditional hierarchical structure if they double or triple in size?

Not easy questions, these, but Si Se Puede! members and CFL staff agree that change is inevitable if the coop is to continue to thrive, and all are confident that the business is strong enough to weather growth spurts and challenges. In fact, [Cooperative Coordinator Vanessa] Bransburg says that interest in the Si Se Puede! model is burgeoning and groups like Make the Road New York and Catholic Charities are looking to CFL for help in establishing similar projects in other parts of the city.

Read the entire article here.

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On the Way to Recovery, Look to Immigrant Entrepreneurs

Our commitment to supporting immigrant Sunset Park residents to start small businesses is grounded in a belief that promoting entrepreneurship is a key component in eliminating the economic and social disparities between marginalized communities and New York City’s middle class.  An essay in a book recently published by the Drum Major Institute confirms the potential of immigrant entrepreneurship to spark the city’s economic recovery.

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We Can Do It! in the National Spotlight

IMG_1810A big day for the We Can Do It! Cooperative: on September 15, coop members and the Center’s Vanessa Bransburg traveled to Washington D.C at the invitation of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. At the 2009 Public Policy Conference, part of the Hispanic Heritage Month event series, We Can Do It! was showcased as an innovative business that leads the way for Latinos in the green economy. We Can Do It! members were introduced by Brooklyn Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez.

CNN recently featured We Can Do It! in a profile of businesses across the nation where workers take charge.

We Can Do It! is a cooperative formed by Sunset Park residents that provides housecleaning services using green products and methods. Over the past three years, they have developed a thriving business and inspired many in our community and at the Center.

Their outstanding achievement is an example of how creativity, collaboration and perseverance can overcome the formidable barriers to economic success and business ownership that stand in the way for so many in Sunset Park.

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Filed under Fair Work, Immigrants in NYC, Worker Cooperative Project

Non-Profit Quarterly: Focus on Immigration

In its Summer 2009 issue, Nonprofit Quarterly focuses on the issue of immigration, “taking apart and restitching the picture of nonprofits and their service, program, and advocacy relationships with immigrant populations.” Articles in the journal, including some web-only features, approach the issue from four perspectives: Community Development and Immigration, Immigration Policy, Immigrant Youth, and Immigration and Philanthropy.

“All nonprofits have a stake in treating, serving, advocating for, and supporting immigrants in this nation,” writes Rick Cohen in An Immigration Agenda for ‘Regular Jane and Joe’ Nonprofits. ” What should nonprofits be prepared to do?” Click on the link to read his recommendations. In Building Economic Power in Immigrant Communities- Lessons from the Field, author Analisa Nazareno offers case studies highlighting successful economic development practices in immigrant communities, including two of the most successful and innovative organizations to help Latino immigrants acquire the knowledge and financial tools necessary to achieve economic security, Latino Community Credit Union (LCCU) in North Carolina and the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) in Minnesota.

“Frequently, nonprofits view immigrant populations as accumulations of deficits, but for immigrant youth, nonprofits should also see the assets that can be built on and developed,” argue Cynthia Garcia Coll and Flannery Patton in Supporting Immigrant Youth – Removing Obstacles and Building on Strengths. The article discusses the strengths immigrant youth demonstrate in schools and in their communities, examines the institutional and contextual supports that foster their success, and describes non-profit programs and practices that have been the most effective in serving immigrant youth.

For more articles in this extensive collection, including in-depth discussion of issues related to immigration reform and the role philanthropies, visit the Non-Profit Quarterly’s web site.

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Filed under Community Development, Immigrants in NYC, Youth Development

New Immigrant Leaders in Sunset Park

Congratulations to graduates of the recently concluded New Immigrant Leadership Project, an intercultural group of local residents representing Sunset Park’s Chinese and Latino communities. This project was created to encourage the emergence of grassroots leaders in the Sunset Park community and bring attention to the tremendous challenges immigrant families confront. The project was facilitated by the Sunset Park Coalition of for New Immigrants and supported by the Laura Jane Musser Fund.


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