The Work First Fellowship connects young professionals with the opportunity to have a direct impact on urban poverty. Fellows work one-on-one with individuals living below the poverty level to help them find employment and get back on their feet, while also conducting policy research on effective job placement programs.
This service year combines direct support to the needy while also reviewing public policy that shapes the lives of their clients.
Fellows provide skill-building training for individuals living on public assistance to help them find employment and achieve self-sufficiency. They gain experience by providing classroom instruction leading classes on a variety of workforce development topics, including Computer Literacy, English as a Second Language, Soft Skills, and Financial Literacy.
Fellows also provide support to clients through job search activities, resume and cover letter reviews, and mock interviews. The Work First Foundation encourages fellows to be leaders in the classroom by designing and implementing new curricula. In the past, Fellows have developed curricula for classes on HTML/CSS, self- efficacy, and nutrition. This on-the-ground work helps fellows begin to form relevant and substantive research questions.
Public Policy Research
In recognition of the unique exposure to urban poverty that the Fellowship offers, the Work First Foundation asks fellows to share their knowledge with policy experts and workforce development professionals. Therefore, fellows are responsible for conducting a year-long research project that culminates in a presentation to workforce development stakeholders at the end of the program.
Fellows are free to explore whichever aspect of workforce development most interest them, as long the findings benefit the clients they serve. The Work First Foundation feels strongly about this condition, as it ensures that fellows will have a direct impact on urban poverty. Throughout the year fellows also attend events and policy discussions to expand their understanding of public policy and how it impacts their clients. Previous presentations include “Lessening the Effects of Housing Instability on Employment,” “Developing Workforce to Overcome Food Insecurity,” and “Wage Cliffs and a Rising Minimum Wage.”
Finally, the Work First Foundation asks that fellows take advantage of professional development opportunities. Fellows have attended events hosted by New York City Employment and Training Coalition, Manhattan Institute, New York University, Network After Work, City University of New York, Concordia Institute, NationSwell, among other think tanks, universities, and institutes.
Graduated fellows are now lawyers, policy experts, social workers, academics and business leaders. Fellowship Alums are connected to incoming fellows to share experiences and guide new fellows in the next chapters of their lives.