Connecting Upper Manhattan residents to quality jobs with pathways to careers.

 LaToya Clark, employee at ChaiWali through the East Harlem Talent Network / Photo: Rosemary Santos

LaToya Clark, employee at ChaiWali through the East Harlem Talent Network / Photo: Rosemary Santos

At a Glance 

UMEZ is committed to investing in effective and measurable training and employment program models that directly connect Upper Manhattan residents to quality jobs with pathways to careers. We also invest in employment strategies that are designed to connect residents to jobs generated through our portfolio of business investment projects and priorities of regional and local economic development. 

Banner photo by Rosemary Santos




UMEZ is committed to investing in effective and measurable training and employment program models that directly connect Upper Manhattan residents to quality jobs with pathways to careers. We also invest in employment strategies that are designed to connect residents to jobs generated through our portfolio of business investment projects and priorities of regional and local economic development. To make this happen, we manage a Workforce Development Fund to provide financial and technical assistance in support of innovative programs that drive training and employment in the neighborhoods of Upper Manhattan. The goal of the Fund is to facilitate access to quality jobs and career advancement opportunities for underserved residents who are unemployed or underemployed.

UMEZ is not a direct workforce development service provider; however we partner with and seek to enhance the efforts of New York City’s public workforce system, community-based and non-profit organizations, unions and labor management organizations, community colleges, workforce intermediaries and training providers to increase employment-related outcomes for Upper Manhattan residents.

Our workforce development strategy integrates elements of placed-based, sector-based and demand-driven approaches to workforce development. To this end, we only invest in organizations with a proven track record of delivering effective and results-driven training and employment services that adequately prepare Upper Manhattan residents to meet the needs of employers and targeted business sectors. UMEZ is focused on job-driven program models that target economic sectors within the local and regional context that are in-demand, forecast to grow and accessible to entry-level workers. Among UMEZ target sectors are construction, healthcare, hospitality, retail and energy. We are open to programs that fit these and other high-growth yet accessible employment sectors. Effective projects should culminate with the placement of Upper Manhattan residents in pre-identified hiring opportunities in the near term.

In an effort to connect residents to viable jobs providing economic stability and opportunities for growth, we seek to partner with organizations that are experienced in the establishment of employer-driven partnerships, employer engagement and the assessment of employer needs; the delivery of integrative job readiness and sector skills training, screening, assessment and skill remediation of jobseekers; and the implementation of demand-driven recruitment and fulfillment strategies.

To strengthen the economic vitality of the neighborhoods of Upper Manhattan through the provision of workforce development services, we are focused on the following interrelated goals:


To cultivate and nurture

proven sector employment models that propel a greater number of Upper Manhattan residents towards employment and career advancement opportunities.


To foster cooperation

among community organizations, public agencies, private businesses and philanthropic funders.


To measurably improve

the effectiveness and quality of workforce development services available to Upper Manhattan residents.




UMEZ aims to play a catalytic role in the enhancement of the current workforce development service delivery infrastructure that supports the neighborhoods of Upper Manhattan. Working with key workforce development partners and industry stakeholders, our goal is to support successful program models that effectively address the workforce development needs of Upper Manhattan residents, in a manner that’s responsive to the skill demands of employers and targeted business sectors.

We believe that successful program models must produce a scalable and positive impact on the local economies of Upper Manhattan. To this end, our investments are reflective of organizations with demonstrated knowledge and experience in the identification and cultivation of employment opportunities in high growth sectors. In recognizing the role that Upper Manhattan community and/or anchor institutions play in fostering vibrant communities, our investments incorporate community involvement.

Our Workforce Development Fund supports nonprofit organizations that are direct workforce development service providers and/or workforce intermediaries (or conveners) that are taking the lead in guiding the development and implementation of programs. To increase impact and achieve strong results for Upper Manhattan residents, we have adopted a performance-based and outcomes-driven approach to managing our workforce development investments.

The Workforce Development Fund has the following funding priorities:

  • Strategic, time-limited investments to support effective and measurable interventions that respond to identifiable short-term and long-term employment opportunities. These investments may link residents to UMEZ’s portfolio of business investment projects and/or other priorities of regional and local economic development;
  • Support for organizations that integrate and maximize public and private workforce development resources to substantially expand programming, as a response to a specific employment opportunity that benefits a significant number of residents and/or employers; and
  • Investments that introduce, sustain, or expand existing relationships with public agencies and/or workforce intermediaries so that there is a measurable and significant improvement in the quantity and quality of employment outcomes.



Preference is given to nonprofit organizations that are located within the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (“Upper Manhattan EZ”); are planning to locate to the Upper Manhattan EZ; or demonstrate a service population of at least 70 percent Upper Manhattan EZ residents. Regardless of location, all individuals benefitting from the proposed project must be Upper Manhattan EZ residents. The Upper Manhattan EZ means the geographic areas of East Harlem (defined by ZIP codes 10029, 10035, and 10037); Central Harlem & West Harlem (defined by ZIP codes 10026, 10027, 10030 and 10031); and Washington Heights & Inwood (defined by ZIP codes 10032, 10033, 10034, 10039 and 10040).

To be considered for funding, organizations must meet the following criteria:

  • Must be a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization;
  • Must have been in existence at least three years;
  • Must have a proven track record of directly implementing and/or leading the development, alignment of resources, and service coordination of training and employment programs (as evidenced by public and/or private contracts for services);
  • Must have an annual operating budget of more than $500,000 for its most recent fiscal year, of which at least 10 percent of revenue resources are grants and contracts for training and employment services;
  • Must have an experienced management team, with a thoughtful, strategic work plan that reflects an understanding of the workforce development system and proposes a solution to a challenge faced by Upper Manhattan residents;
  • Must be skilled in the development of measurable outcomes and working in a performance-based climate; and
  • Must provide a viable plan for sustainability of the agreed-upon project after UMEZ funding has ended.



    In general, UMEZ will not fund accumulated deficits; debt reduction or emergency funds; endowments and cash reserves; religious institutions; real estate acquisition; and sponsorships.

    Particular to workforce development funding, UMEZ is restricted from supporting the following:

    • General operating support;
    • Start-up or seed funding;
    • Individual service providers
    • Schools or education/youth programs, or public or private schools;
    • Funding request that exceeds the total organization’s budget;
    • Organizations that have failed to submit required reports to UMEZ; and
    • More than one UMEZ funded project at a time.



    If you believe your organization and proposed workforce development plan might be in alignment with our workforce development strategy and funding priorities, we encourage you to submit a Letter of Inquiry (“LOI”).

    • Applicants are invited to submit a three-page LOI. LOI’s are accepted on an ongoing basis;
    • The LOI must include an overview of the organization (including leadership tenure and workforce development experience); a description of the opportunity as you see it; and the intervention that you propose to respond. The LOI must be accompanied by audited financial statements, a three-year organization budget up to the current year, and proof of 501(c)(3) status, and be signed by the Executive Director;
    • Applicant organizations that have been accepted for further consideration will be contacted directly for a pre-assessment meeting. If contacted, groups should be prepared to discuss their organization’s goals, as well as clearly articulate their rationale behind the request for support from UMEZ. Key organizational personnel will be required to attend the first meeting. This might include Executive and Deputy Directors, Finance Director, and Board Members, particularly the Chairperson;
    • If an invitation to submit a proposal is extended, UMEZ will provide organizations with proposal guidelines and a list of additional required documentation;
    • If the proposed project is not consistent with our criteria, we will send a letter of declination. Incomplete LOI’s will be also be declined; and
    • LOI’s should be sent to the attention of Director, Workforce Development, Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, 55 West 125th Street, 11th floor, New York, NY 10027. E-mail is
    Meet the Team

    Meet the Team


    Yahshaanyah Hill, Director of Workforce Development
    Jose Calderon, Program Officer

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