President and CEO Christine McMahon addresses the crowd during Fedcap\’s community meeting at the Mott Haven Branch Library.Photo by James Cook for Fedcap

Jeanmarie Evelly

A nonprofit with its roots in Manhattan and branches throughout the city has set its sights on the South Bronx, with hopes of bringing jobs to the neighborhood.

Fedcap, which creates jobs and trains people who have difficulty finding work to fill those positions, plans to expand its services locally. The organization held a “listening session,” at the Mott Haven Branch Library on July 28th to get feedback from residents about the community’s needs.

Residents and representatives from neighborhood groups gathered to ask questions and fill out surveys, in the first of several forums the group plans to hold over the next year to help locals overcome barriers to employment.

Wworking mothers’ need for childcare, transportation to and from work, the lack of job opportunities for high school students and young adults, and the need for more computer-training programs were among the concerns residents raised.

“We know that it’s not as simple as ‘bring the jobs in,’” said Christine McMahon, chief executive officer for Fedcap. “We want to gauge the barriers that exist to long-term economic independence.”

Fedcap created over a thousand jobs last year, according to McMahon, a number she said the organization hopes to double in the next five years. The group uses state and federal contracts to provide manufacturing, custodial and mailroom jobs, while also offeringtraining to help applicants land and keep work.

Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo supported the nonprofit’s push for opportunities in the South Bronx.

“This is something that I think is going to be important for the community,” Arroyo said. “We’ll work together to connect as many of the dots as possible, to create as many opportunities as possible, so the people that I represent will have good jobs that allow them to support their families.”

Originally founded in 1935 as an employment resource for disabled workers, Fedcap has expanded its reach to serve communities around the city where jobs are scarce.

The Bronx has the highest unemployment rate in New York City—peaking at 11.7 percent in June, according to the Department of Labor.

“Each time we asked, where is the greatest need? We were consistently pointed here,” McMahon said.

Mott Haven resident Joyce Austin said she hopes Fedcap will meet its goals. “The neighborhood needs it,” she said. “In fact, the whole Bronx needs it. But if they can start with just one neighborhood, that’s great.”

Fedcap plans to hold more information sessions in the coming months, with dates and locations to be announced.

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