We wish we lived in a perfect world. In a more fair reality, systemic inequities would not exist to create barriers to success and happiness. Support and security would be equally available to everyone, and all of us would have reliable meals, affordable housing, and access to technology.
That's why New York Cares is committed to creating equity through service and opening doors that allow for limitless potential. One way we do that is through volunteer opportunities that help New Yorkers complete their education, build careers, and attain naturalization.
Many New Yorkers live in a cycle of poverty, and face systemic barriers to complete their formal education. Though the number of high school graduates has risen over the years, Black, Hispanic, English Language Learners, and students with disabilities are still more likely to leave high school without a diploma.
Without a high school diploma or equivalency, individuals are more likely to experience poverty, unemployment, and incarceration. But there are nontraditional routes to obtaining a diploma, like the 9-hour TASC (Test Assessing Secondary Completion) exam—which is one area New York Cares lends a hand.
New York Cares volunteers work with adults obtaining their education in one-on-one and small group settings towards achieving a passing score on the TASC. Beyond reading, writing, and arithmetic, volunteers often lend a sympathetic ear to help ease test day anxieties, and guidance towards one’s future academic career. In the words of one of our volunteer leading an adult education project at Pathways to Graduation, “The most rewarding part of my experience with P2G must be the amazing students who come from so many different countries...week after week we see their progress. I always leave the classroom with renewed energy, the desire to do more, and be a better person.”
There are 257,300 unemployed New Yorkers, and thousands more who find themselves underemployed, or working for a sub-living wage. Others face barriers to full employment because of prior incarceration, disability, and being unsheltered. Despite leaps in employment since March 2020, the pandemic has further exacerbated the employment gap, and has shown a disproportionate impact on Black and Latino workers.
The New York Cares Job Readiness Program connects volunteers to people in need of strategies and skills for seeking and securing work. Our volunteers provide job seekers with resumé advice, soft skills development, mock interviews, and tips on navigating job boards, networking, and pitching their skills to employers. Through workshops and one-on-one walk-in services, our volunteers pass along skills and knowledge which can lead to an escape from the cycle of poverty.
The pandemic upended every level of the immigration process. Borders were closed, vias processing, in-person interviews and other services were brought to a standstill. Many immigrant families were cut off from pandemic relief payments and left without a lifeline in one of the direst periods of unemployment we’ve seen in our lifetime.
For immigrants who have attained a green card, naturalization is an opportunity to enjoy the full rights and responsibilities of US citizenship. The New York City Office of Citizenship & Immigration Service is the busiest in the country. Beyond the right to vote and become a full-fledged member of civic life, citizenship reduces poverty and unemployment rates among immigrants.
In 2021, the number of green cards issued returned to pre-pandemic levels and immigration services are returning to their regular cadence, New York Cares volunteers are ready to work with immigrants through our Citizenship clinics, where specialized volunteers assist immigrants to complete their citizenship application, fee waivers, and even conduct mock interviews.
The challenges facing immigrants are myriad, including the price of the application, and fear of making a mistake during what is often an anxiety-inducing process. During the naturalization interview, immigrants must show fluency in spoken, written, and read English. That’s why we’re happy to help by providing volunteers who can simply sit down for a conversation in English through our English Conversation Partners program.
Help New York Cares open doors for those eager to succeed by joining us in making equity limitless by becoming a volunteer to address inequities in education, helping people succeed in the workplace, and working with immigrants aspiring to the American Dream.
The pandemic has limited our in-person offerings in the fields of Adult Education, Job Readiness, and Naturalization. Luckily, with the help of community and corporate partners, we have been able to re-introduce career readiness workshops, panels, virtual tutoring, and remote conversation. This fall, be on the lookout for even more projects in these areas as we expand our offerings to coincide with the changing status of the pandemic. These opportunities to volunteer can be found here. You can also donate to ensure we provide limitless equity for years to come.