Program participants, parents, and professionals celebrated the accomplishments of young people in AHRC New York City’s Train & Earn and Advance & Earn programs, part of Employment and Business Services. Each program is run in partnership with the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), a popular New York City agency that “invests in a network of community-based organizations and programs to alleviate the effects of poverty and to provide opportunities for New Yorkers and communities to flourish.”

In “celebrating the accomplishments of amazing NYC youth,” Jonathon Epstein, Program Director of Advance & Earn, proudly said that program graduates exemplify resilience.

Young people learning specialized employment skills through AHRC NYC’s Train & Earn and Advance & Earn programs were recently celebrated for their accomplishments

Young people learning specialized employment skills through AHRC NYC’s Train & Earn and Advance & Earn programs were recently celebrated for their accomplishments


Systemic racism, ableism, trauma, abuse, housing and food insecurity, and identity crises are constant barriers in these young lives, and still, these inspiring young people showed up, worked hard, excelled in their studies, invested time and energy in career exploration, held each other up, and achieved amazing things,” Jonathon said.

Learning Professional Skills from the Source

Participants in each cohort can learn specialized employment skills directly from experts in their fields. During their time in the program, Brooklyn-based participants experience field trips to real worksites and receive mentorship from seasoned staff at their internship sites, enhancing their work readiness skills, and providing them a unique insight into the workforce. Brooklyn Train & Earn participants can also engage with classroom guest speakers, such as Amaya Nestor from Santander Bank and Kene Turner from the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, who provide students with financial literacy tools, opportunities to open their own personal accounts, and multifaceted entrepreneurship education, guiding them to a place of self-sufficiency and independence after Train & Earn.

Julian De Rouch congratulates Jamela Barnes

Julian De Rouch congratulates Jamela Barnes.

Julian De Rouch, Brooklyn Train & Earn’s Basic Skills Instructor, emphasized the concepts of honesty, discipline, and especially integrity to his students. “Integrity is doing what you’re supposed to do, even when no one is watching,” he explained.

Similarly, several Advance & Earn participants spent time learning professional skills at a variety of businesses on Staten Island. One such example was at Orume Hays Agbeyegbe’s accounting office.

I always love to give back to society,” Orume said. “As a CPA, my skill set is instrumental for young kids who aren’t exposed to an accounting or finance background. What they learn from me they can use in their personal lives, and it sets them up for office work anywhere they want go to from here.”

Parents and Participants Feeling Proud

Brooklyn-based parent, Virgena Barnes, whose daughter Jamela completed the Train and Earn program, said that the initiatives should be models for all youth who need them.

Steven Natal spoke of how proud he was to undertake the Advance & Earn program.

Steven Natal spoke of how proud he was to undertake the Advance & Earn program.

These programs are so much better than what was available when I was growing up,” Virgena said. “These are people who really help them, not pretend to help them for a paycheck. It opened my eyes and I feel blessed as a parent.”

Joining the program was truly life-changing for some participants, such as Steven Natal. “When I first started in August, I was probably at my lowest point. I didn’t have anyone but family, and some would say that’s enough, but it can make you feel trapped.”

Steven not only worked tirelessly to receive his HSE degree but also completed direct support training and now works as a Community Support Professional for AHRC NYC.

This program gave me the chance to learn that I could learn anything given enough time and support,” Steven added. “I didn’t take away one big thing, but a lot of little things, like that smiling first thing in the morning at someone can make a difference in their day. There are people in New York who still believe in others who don’t believe in themselves.”

About AHRC NYC’s DYCD Programs

Train & Earn is a work readiness program that provides comprehensive job training and employment services with support services to find a permanent job, a college career, or obtain a GED if applicable, all while receiving a $100 weekly stipend. The 16-week training program prepares you for a career in environmental services through classroom training, hands-on experience, and a paid internship of $15/hour, up to 175 hours, in a professional environment. Available in Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, this program includes Cleaning Management Institute (CMI) certification, OSHA-10 certification, and 175 hours of paid internship.

Advance & Earn will help you explore career and educational goals while creating a plan to achieve them. This program, based in Staten Island and Manhattan, can be a life-changing opportunity and an important step toward a degree, independence, and the job of your dreams.  Receive academic instruction to prepare for TASC and GED exams, work readiness training, job placement assistance, and college counseling. Obtain industry credentials and certifications, (Food Handler, Retail Specialist, Microsoft Office Specialist, Direct Support Specialist) and receive $150 weekly stipend or paid internship ($15/hour for up to 250 hours).