Gotham Gives Partners with Strive

Through multiple conversations around our criminal justice system, I was introduced to Roy Castro. He is the co-chair of Strive; as an entrepreneur, he has built quite a sizeable business delivering ice cream and ice to bodegas around the city. Roy also spent time in jail.

People who have been in jail say it’s entirely up to you to figure out the system. Roy found Strive. He told me about the program that saved his life. He was lost, he never held a job, and he had a jail record. Strive is why he is a hard-working member of society, raising a family in NY and running a profitable business. He will tell you; this program saved his life.

Every year, over 600,000 people make the difficult transition from prison to their communities. Many face significant barriers to finding meaningful employment. According to the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services, one-third of New York City felony and misdemeanor probationers were rearrested within three years.

STRIVE leads the nation in creating solutions that propel individuals re-entering society into careers that lead to upward mobility and access to the promise of the American Dream.  Working in predominantly Black and Brown communities, STRIVE provides life-changing skills training and supports to help students find sustained employment in careers that allow them to advance.

Gotham Gives is partnering with STRIVE to grow the Fresh Start, a program that provides critical training and support to adults leaving incarceration. STRIVE’s holistic model includes training to help students find lasting careers with real growth opportunities and strategies to help them address employment barriers and include support for housing, food insecurity, child care, and mental health issues.

We will deliver services to 300 low-income adults over three years, including job training and work experience. STRIVE’s model incorporates motivational interviewing tactics that promote social-emotional learning to reinforce positive behaviors. Fresh Start offers career readiness training, occupational skills training, internships, job placement assistance, post-placement engagement, and lifetime support. 

We expect that 70% of Fresh Start participants will be employed, or in an apprenticeship, or engaged in post-secondary education by the end of the three years. No more than 60 people will return to jail within 12 months of their release. STRIVE has a long history of working with returning citizens in New York City. In a reentry program that ran 2018-2021, STRIVE graduates met or exceeded goals for employment with a recidivism rate of only 1%.

We are so excited to be part of Strive’s journey and its impact on people who deserve a fresh start. This is about jobs and an opportunity to re-enter the community. Having a job changes everything: your purpose and your life. I hope we can continue making this kind of impact in the years to come.