Every young person deserves the resources and support they need to achieve their dreams. That’s one of our fundamental beliefs at Goddard Riverside, and it’s also what drives our newest program, Creating Opportunities for Amsterdam (COFA).
COFA aims to bring those resources and support directly to underserved youth ages 14-26 in the Amsterdam Houses and Amsterdam Addition housing projects. Outreach specialists will go door-to-door to involve young people in positive activities, build relationships, and help them on the path to further education and/or career opportunities.
The program is based at our Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center, which is located in Amsterdam Addition. Positive Influence, an organization founded by Andrew Blacks that has provided programs for youth in Amsterdam Houses and the Addition since 2005, will be our partner, and Fordham University School of Social Service will provide an evaluation team to ensure the program is meeting its goals. We’re grateful to City Council Member Gale Brewer, City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal for providing funding.
“I was the young people we seek to engage, and I believe that they can do far better with the right support,” said Goddard Executive Director Roderick L. Jones, who celebrated the launch of the program at a press conference last week. Jones grew up in a housing project in Brooklyn.
Jones and Brewer were joined at the launch by City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, NYCHA Interim CEO Lisa Bova-Hiatt, and Andrew Blacks of Positive Influence. Speaker Adams touted COFA as part of her Community Safety and Victim Services Initiative, saying it would not only increase opportunities for young people but help keep them out of trouble.
“Safety is not just the absence of crime but a presence of well-being,” she said. “This is the pathway to prevent crime before it ever occurs.”
COFA will expand the hours for youth at the Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center, with activities every weekday evening and Saturdays for teens and young adults and a new Saturday program by Positive Influence for ages eight to 14. The activities on offer will include athletics, recreation and arts activities; homework help; school enrollment and college application support; college visits; job application support; workforce training; paid internships; job fairs and recruitment events; and more. Guidance to navigate on a meaningful life path is the ultimate goal of the COFA program.