September 7, 2016

The Department of Small Business Services Announces the Launch of New Workforce1 Career Center in Washington Heights

Center will offer employment services tailored for foreign-born New Yorkers and is part of the Inwood NYC planning initiative

NEW YORK –– The Department of Small Business Services today announced the opening of the new Washington Heights Workforce1 Career Center at 516 West 181st Street, the first location to offer tailored employment, training, and supportive services to the City’s vibrant immigrant workforce.  The center’s programming was developed through a partnership between the Department of Small Business Services (SBS), the Human Resources Administration/ Department of Social Services (HRA/DSS), and Robin Hood.  It will serve residents of all five boroughs, and accept referrals from the City’s existing network of 17 Workforce1 Career Centers, as well as community-based organizations.  New York City is home to more than 3 million immigrants – and more than 80,174 foreign-born New Yorkers reside in Washington Heights.

"Global Talent Pipeline," the new set of services debuting at the Washington Heights Workforce1 Career Center, will prepare and connect foreign-born New Yorkers with jobs in growing industries like healthcare, tech and food service.  Global Talent Pipeline addresses the twin challenges of an immigrant workforce that is overrepresented in low skill or underpaid jobs, and local employers who struggle to find skilled workers in key economic sectors.  Developed in collaboration with City agencies and community groups, this new set of services will allow foreign-born New Yorkers to reach their fullest potential, and help to grow the economy by delivering talent that local employers need.

The Washington Heights Workforce1 center features an integrated team of SBS and HRA staff for the first time. The following Global Talent Pipeline services are available on-site at the center:

  • customized workshops  to help foreign-born job candidates develop a better understanding of the American workplace and conduct a successful job search;
  • pre-training programs featuring English as a Second Language (ESL) support;
  • advanced occupational training programs in key industry sectors outlined in Mayor de Blasio’s Career Pathways Report - including healthcare, technology, transportation, food service and construction;
  • connection to living-wage jobs with employers who are seeking bilingual staff;
  • guidance and direct access to HRA benefits, such as cash and food assistance – including the ability to apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP);
  • connection to social services provided by community-based organizations serving foreign-born New Yorkers

"SBS is actively working toward Mayor de Blasio’s vision of inclusive growth and shared prosperity, by equipping jobseekers with skills to build careers in the 21st century economy," said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services.  "At the new Workforce1 Center in Washington Heights,  this dream is now even more accessible to foreign-born New Yorkers, who will make our workforce more competitive, and our economy even more robust. We are grateful to Robin Hood for investing in the development and launch of this new set of services."

"This new center offers immigrants access to public benefits, training and employment opportunities all under one roof. We anticipate it will give immigrants the assistance they need to secure a better future for themselves and their families. This effort could potentially be replicated throughout the City’s workforce development system to reach thousands more people in need, which is really exciting," said Tanya Beja, program officer at Robin Hood, the largest poverty-fighting organization in New York.

"Immigrant New Yorkers are a significant proportion of New York City’s workforce population and possess many in-demand skills," said Steve Banks, Commissioner of the Department of Social Services.  "However, access to opportunity, the ability to translate skills into new industries and occupations, and familiarity with expectations of New York City employers are challenges that many immigrants face, regardless of language or education."

"This Workforce1 Center is a symbol of our community's future," said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. "With unemployment levels at higher than the city average, Washington Heights and Inwood will benefit tremendously from this resource. Opportunities for employment will grow in our communities and the Workforce1 Center will be instrumental in connecting our residents to these quality jobs. I thank the de Blasio administration and Commissioners Banks and Bishop for their commitment to improving the lives of uptown residents through employment and needed services."

"Brooklyn Workforce Innovations has a history of empowering low- and moderate-income job seekers through skills trainings and career development supports that create access to career pathways and living-wage employment opportunities," said Aaron Shiffman, Executive Director, Brooklyn Workforce Innovations.  "We are excited to partner with the City to expand these opportunities for foreign-born New Yorkers in the transportation sector, specifically in the high-demand occupation of commercial driving.  More than one-third of the CDL training beneficiaries BWI currently serves are foreign born New Yorkers, and we look forward to providing the additional language, career, and industry-specific support that will help more New Yorkers access our training and assist program graduates in launching successful careers."

Francesca Fiore, Assistant Dean of LaGuardia Community College said, "The new Workforce1 Center is sure to be a tremendous resource for the Washington Heights community—in particular, those for whom English is a second language. LaGuardia Community College is excited to contribute our expertise helping adults go back to school to better the lives of their families and themselves, to the suite of services offered at the Center. Co-locating our Bilingual Medical Assistant Training Program for English language learners at the new Workforce1 Center means that our participants can access free training for this in-demand field, using industry-relevant material that reflects feedback from healthcare employers on the skills they want to see in medical assistant candidates, as well as attend resume writing workshops, hone their interview skills, and connect to a number of invaluable services all in one convenient and easily accessible location."

"The inclusion of specialized curriculum for foreign-born New Yorkers creates an inclusive and welcoming learning environment, where all New Yorkers can strive to achieve their dreams for success in New York" said Julia Jean-Francois, Co-Director of the Center for Family Life.

"The Washington Heights Workforce1 Center will help grow our City’s economy and is an important milestone for Inwood NYC, a comprehensive neighborhood planning initiative for upper Manhattan. The center is well positioned to serve existing and new businesses that will be growing jobs in upper Manhattan as a result of the Inwood NYC initiative, and to connect residents with those good jobs and career pathways – one of the top priorities in the ongoing planning process," said NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer. "NYCEDC is proud to continue working with our sister agencies and local partners to strengthen our neighborhoods and to build on this momentum in the uptown community."

"Immigrant communities are the backbone of our City’s thriving economy," said Commissioner Nisha Agarwal of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. "This new Workforce1 Career Center will help to ensure that more immigrant New Yorkers have the resources they need to reach their full career potential."

About the Department of Small Business Services (SBS)
SBS helps unlock economic potential and create economic security for all New Yorkers by connecting New Yorkers to good jobs, creating stronger businesses, and building a fairer economy in neighborhoods across the five boroughs. For more information on all of SBS' services, go to, call 311, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About the Human Resources Administration/Department of Social Services (HRA/DSS)
HRA/DSS is dedicated to fighting poverty and income inequality by providing New Yorkers in need with essential benefits such as Food Assistance and Emergency Rental Assistance. As the largest local social services agency in the country, HRA/DSS helps over 3 million New Yorkers through the administration of more than 12 major public assistance programs.

About Robin Hood
Robin Hood, New York’s largest poverty-fighting organization, finds, funds and creates over 200 of the most effective programs, to help 1.8 million New Yorkers learn and earn their way out of poverty. For more information visit, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.