Yale Daily News

Fifteen nonprofits received a total of $684,000 in grant funds this month that local advocates hope will boost pathways to employment.

The funds were awarded by the philanthropic Community Foundation of Greater New Haven, which aims to help New Haven residents find long-term employment and provides wraparound services like help with childcare, transportation and credentialing. 

“There aren’t as many opportunities for people who live there and for people who want to stay,” said Matt Higbee, the content and engagement manager at the Community Foundation. “And we also have the second problem … the people who don’t have access to quality jobs or have their own business get left out when the economy does well.”

The grants hope to tackle two problems at once: New Haven’s economic growth, which ranks 46 out of the 57 large metropolitan areas in the United States, and economic inclusivity, which ranks 54th, according to the same study. 

The grants, Higbee said, gives local residents access to careers and wages that can support families and reduce stress about paying bills or having to work multiple jobs.

“We have absolute competence and confidence that [these nonprofits] are going to make lives better in New Haven and the surrounding area,” Higbee said.

New Haven Promise, whose work has focused on providing scholarships for New Haven students and ensuring that students leave the New Haven school system with marketable skills, received $50,000 from the Foundation. 

According to New Haven Promise’s program manager Jorgieliz Casanova, the organization plans to use the funds to pilot partnerships with the Yale Medical School to train, mentor and prepare underrepresented professionals in healthcare careers.

Casanova said that the partnership will help low-income undergraduates and students of color to become medical scribes, positions that many hospitals are struggling to fill.

The program will also give them access to the medical profession through mentorship with residents at Yale New Haven Health. Casanova hopes that the partnership can help reduce the racial and class disparities in medicine. 

“The traditional pathways to medicine are not really tapping into the incredible talent that’s in our nation, especially around folks who have less means, who are interested in medical education,” Casanova said. “And so this leaky pipeline doesn’t get us to where we need to be around having a diverse, inclusive, you know, medical community.”

Casanova said that as New Haven’s economy changes, it requires more career development programs. While the Elm City’s economy has been carried by manufacturing firms in the past, the top employers are now Yale and Yale New Haven Health. 

For Casanova, this shift in the economy means that a different type of individual and type of job training is required, focusing on entrepreneurial skills rather than those used in manufacturing. 

“New Haven Promise is about giving families hope and inspiration around a path forward,” Casanova said. “Because so many of our citizens are first generation college students and we are a sanctuary city, this is where American dreams are made, and folks can really buy into that vision.”

Christian Community Action, another group receiving funds, focuses on providing lower-income residents with emergency services like housing and food, in addition to policy and advocacy work.

The group plans to hire an employment specialist and a child and family specialist with the new funds. According to Executive Director Bonita Grubbs, these employment and counseling services will complement their existing housing programs.

“The funding was absolutely essential to us being able to not just provide housing, but provide the services to individual heads of household and the children within those households,” Grubbs said. “So that once they leave the shelter, that there’s more than just a bed in an apartment that they have, but that there’s a better life by increased income services that would help the families survive and thrive.”

The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven is located at 70 Audubon Street.

Khuan-Yu Hall is the City Editor at the News. He is a sophomore in Davenport, from Hartland, Vermont, double majoring in Statistics and Data Science and Ethics, Politics, and Economics.