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Work First Fellowship

Happy 2014!
It has been a busy year at the Work First Foundation. In 2013 we launched the Work First Fellowship, a unique research fellowship for the next generation of policy makers and scholars. As we begin a new year, we’d like to take a moment to thank the people who have made this program possible. To Peter Cove and Lee Bowes for their vision and commitment, as well as the incredible staff at America Works who have worked with fellows. Thank you also to the board of directors, and all our speakers and guests throughout the year. Thank you to everyone who has helped impact the lives of low-income New Yorkers. We look forward to great things ahead in 2014.

The Fellowship Experience
The Work First Fellowship is a unique opportunity for young people interested in Urban Poverty and Public Policy. The fellows spend four days a week working directly with lowincome New Yorkers at the offices of America Works. The clients they serve include recipients of public aid, shelter residents, ex-offenders, public housing residents, and veterans. Each fellow will complete a research project on an issue affecting urban poverty to be presented in May 2014.

Fellowship Timeline
August 5-10 Participate in a 5day orientation program featuring board, speakers and activities.

Aug-Sept 2013 Train at various America Works sites to learn the different roles in the company

Oct-May 2014 Conduct an individual research project regarding an issue of urban poverty and policy.



In the Field
In addition to research and work, the fellows have participated in various activities outside of the office that provide further insight into poverty policy.

Operation Backpack
The fellows ended their orientation week by donating school supplies and backpacks to families affected by Hurricane Sandy. The fellows donated three backpacks filled with calculators, notebooks, pencils and other supplied to children in Far Rockaway.

United Nations Tour
The fellows had the opportunity to visit the United Nations and learn about economic development and policy on an international level. They visited the floor of the Economic and Social Council only two days before September’s annual United Nations summit.

Ditmas Park Tour and Dinner
Fellows toured the Ditmas Park area with Jan Rosenberg, founder of Friends of Courtelyou, to learn about economic development movements in Brooklyn. Afterwards, fellows enjoyed dinner with Peter Cove and Lee Bowes in the home of Fred Siegel and Jan Rosenberg. The fellows discussed their research projects and received feedback.

Washington D.C. Visit
Fellows had the opportunity to visit the office of America Works of Washington D.C. and observe how different contracts impact the nature of job search programs. The fellows briefly visited the White House before a personal meeting at Housing and Urban Development with Cabinet Member and United States Secretary, Shaun Donavan.

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Jennifer Jones Austi n

Kay Hymowitz

Gordon Campbell

Howard Husoc


Scholars, practitioners and politicians: the fellows have had a series of great speakers this year
As part of the fellowship experience, fellows hear from various practitioners and scholars in the field of public policy. We have been fortunate to have some incredible guests this year who have shared their experiences in public service and research on policy issues. Jennifer Jones Austin: Executive Director of Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Recently named co-chair for the De Blasio mayoral transition team. Peter Salins: Professor of Public Policy and Urban Planning at Stony Brook, Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute Howard Husock: Vice President of the Manhattan Institute, scholar and author Jason Turner: Previous commissioner of HRA, former Wisconsin Works Director Phillip Goldfedder: New York State Assemblyman representing the Rockaways Kay Hymowitz: Journalist and author of three books, researches family and poverty Jan Rosenberg: Founder of Friends of Courtelyou, Ditmas Park community organizer Gordon Campbell: Prior CEO of United Way, former Commissioner of Department of Homeless Services, current Professor of Practice at NYU Wagner School of Public Servcie Shaun Donovan: US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, former Commissioner of NYC Housing Preservation and Development Work First Board Members: Dan Donovan, Pete “Bullfrog” Wikul, Jim McKay, Henry “Hank” Saltzman, Fred Siegel Shaun Donovan, US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, gives words of wisdom to fellows.
“Managing in government is like managing in three dimensions. How do you create a public process that is fair and engages residents? Innovations in government are hard. Failure ends up in the paper. We need to create a culture that allows trying new things.“ “I think it’s too easy to sit outside of government and say how they get it wrong or how it’s so bureaucratic—but if you’re the right personality, I’d like to describe that personality as 'patiently relentless,' government can be a remarkably satisfying place to work because you can work at such a large scale. Your job everyday when you wake up is to help people.”



Words from the Fellows
Evelyn Canela
I have undoubtedly developed a better understanding of how New York City’s welfare system directly affects our ability to change the lives of our clients. This fellowship has fueled my desire to work in a social impact organization that improves immigration or housing services for low-income communities.

Matthew Elliott
Every day I am excited that I am able to do intellectually stimulating work that makes city governance more efficient. I have been given the chance to use my computer skills to build programs that greatly reduce the amount of paper work the company must fill out. The research fellowship has given me the chance to work with Columbia University economists on research that studies how to better place welfare recipients into jobs.

Natalie Joseph-Pauline
During my time working at America Works I've realized that policy makers should know how their policies affects the lives of those they're influencing. I had an opportunity to write a blog post about poverty and discovered that single parent households tend to struggle more than two parent households.

Matt Lozada
Throughout my time as a research fellow I have learned from both the policy makers and the people their policies affect that New York can truly be called a tale of two cities. Unfortunately, the stories my clients tell are not the ones policy makers always hear. While “development” policies create more opportunities for would-be New Yorkers, they make it more difficult for low-income New Yorkers who have lived here for decades to retain their housing.



Words from the Fellows
Molly Lupton
Through my research project, I am learning about the hiring process for individuals who have a criminal record. I have talked with professionals at America Works and other organization that work with exoffenders, discovering the barriers that individuals have with a criminal background when seeking employment.

Michael Perloff
The best part of the Work First Fellowship has been learning how the public assistance system actually functions. Before I started, I only understood welfare policy at a theoretical level. By spending five months helping to implement New York City's welfare programs, I have learned how seemingly small policy decisions can have a large impact on people's lives. The experience has helped me develop a more grounded perspective on government aide.

Brandon Storm
Visiting the America Works office in Washington and hearing about how dramatically different local policy is compared to New York really put into perspective how small differences in policy by states and municipalities can lead to dramatically different realities for people decades later.

Parma Zahid
An article we read earlier in the year about how brain development is effected due to stress brought on by economic hardship heavily influenced my research project with the America Works population. I also had the opportunity to incorporate my interest in public health during our meeting with the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Shaun Donovan, to learn about the way health safety is taken into account when making housing developments.



Get Involved!
Are you an expert in public policy? Are you passionate about helping young people pursue careers in public service? From speaking with fellows to assisting with research, there are many ways to get involved. The Work First Foundation also welcomes tax-deductible gifts by check to the address below. Contact Ashley Putnam at aputnam@theworkfirst.org for more ways to get involved.

Happy 2014!

205 West End Avenue Suite 19S New York, NY 10023 www.theworkfirstfoundation.org