East Harlem Talent Network Celebrates 100th Full-Time Job Placement

Photo courtesy of East Harlem Talent Network

Photo courtesy of East Harlem Talent Network

New York, New York - Earlier this month at Central Harlem’s Little Bamboo restaurant, UMEZ sponsored a celebration in recognition of the East Harlem Talent Network (EHTN) program initiative’s accomplishment of placing 100 jobseekers in full-time employment – an important milestone since the EHTN’s creation in 2014.

The EHTN is a local employment network that focuses on connecting residents of East Harlem and other parts of Upper Manhattan to local businesses looking to employ qualified staff members. STRIVE and the East Harlem Community Alliance conducted research that indicated Upper Manhattan businesses were willing to hire people locally, but they did not know where to look. The gap in information between locals who needed jobs and businesses that needed staff was recognized and the EHTN was created as a bridge between the two.

Working through the workforce development agency, STRIVE, and with funds provided by UMEZ, the EHTN, a place-based initiative, is able to connect jobseekers to employment opportunities through the facilitation of a network of community partners. To date, the EHTN works with over 100 community-based organizations and 37 local businesses. The project is unique in its commitment to servicing residents of the Empowerment Zone and other areas of Upper Manhattan by requiring that 50% of its participants reside in East Harlem, 30% in Upper Manhattan, and 20% in other areas of New York City. Phil Weinberg, the President and CEO of STRIVE, said, “The East Harlem Talent Network is an exciting example of how nonprofits and employers can come together in a community around a common goal. With much thanks to the leadership of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone and the East Harlem Community Alliance, our community has fully mobilized to ensure that local jobs are filled by local talent.”

The celebration at Little Bamboo restaurant, a hiring partner of the EHTN, was a morning of inspiration and motivation. The event was attended by representatives from the offices of U.S. Representative Charles B. Rangel, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and New York State Assembly Member Robert J. Rodriguez. There were various speakers at the event, from the CEO of STRIVE, Phil Weinberg, to community employers and current employees, all sharing the same message: The EHTN is a crucial part of the community and the benefits of hiring locally are evident.

Local employers that spoke at the event reported only of the benefits that have come from using the services provided by the EHTN. Anita Trehan, the owner of the restaurant ChaiWali (located at Lenox Avenue and 124th Street), stated that mostly all of her employees are from the EHTN, which saved her the time, energy, and stress of finding a qualified team on her own when opening a restaurant seemed daunting enough. Brad Beckstrom, Director of Government Affairs at Mount Sinai Hospital, one of the largest employers in Upper Manhattan, said, “The East Harlem Talent Network has had tremendous success in getting Harlem residents good-paying jobs. This is good for both the employer and the employee.”

The event featured the new website launch that was funded by UMEZ. The EHTN’s website now has a more modern look with a minimalistic design and tutorial videos on both the employer’s end providing help with posting jobs, as well as guidance for jobseekers. The EHTN’s website design was done by Winston N’Dow, a Program Associate at the EHTN, who spoke at the event describing all the features that were added to make the platform more user-friendly.

The Employee Recognition Award was awarded to LaToya Clark. Clark is a Harlem resident who started working at Chai Wali as a Counter Ambassador through a referral from the EHTN. With guidance from the EHTN, Clark was able to move up the ranks and secure the position of Visual Merchandising Manager at the Target in East River Plaza. As a Visual Merchandising Manager, she is able to further pursue her interest in fashion while also pursuing her entrepreneurial desires. Earlier this year she was featured in the 2015 UMEZ Annual Report. Clark was presented with the award by UMEZ’s Director of Workforce Development, Yahshaanyah Hill.

In October of 2014, UMEZ awarded a grant to EHTN in the amount of $482,874 with the hopes of getting residents in Upper Manhattan long-term work. UMEZ’s President and CEO, Kenneth Knuckles stated, “UMEZ is very proud of this milestone moment. When we launched the EHTN project two years ago, we envisioned the ultimate hiring of at least 180 residents with local employers, and we are well on our way to achieving that goal.” UMEZ is a proud supporter of EHTN and delighted to take this opportunity to recognize all the hard work that has gone into making this endeavor possible.