Red Hook Nonprofit Launches $5M Campaign for Youth Education

By Nikhita Venugopal on October 31, 2013 8:17am 

 The Red Hook Initiative launched a $5 million campaign to bolster the academic and professional futures for neighborhood youth.
The Red Hook Initiative launched a $5 million campaign to bolster the academic and professional futures for neighborhood youth.
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DNAinfo/Nikhita Venugopal

RED HOOK — A $5 million campaign will help Red Hook youth reach their academic and professional goals, a neighborhood nonprofit announced Wednesday.

The Red Hook Initiative, a community center, launched “500 Futures,” a four-year project that will reach 500 local youth annually to ensure they graduate from high school and continue on to college or a job.

The nonprofit kicked off the campaign one year after Hurricane Sandy battered the neighborhood, where many residents did not have the resources to evacuate before the storm, said Jill Eisenhard, founder and executive director of RHI.

Through the campaign, they hope to “build resiliency” for young people in Red Hook while also addressing the neighborhood’s poverty, particularly in Red Hook Houses, where the unemployment rate for young adults is 75 percent, according to Eisenhard and a press release.

“It’s about having a future plan,” she said.

RHI hopes to raise $1.25 million per year over the next four years to expand and support their programs for middle and high school students as well as young adults.

These programs include peer counseling, tutoring, developing technical skills in radio and a 10-week culinary course that teaches students the basic skills needed for employment in the food and restaurant industry. 

They are seeking support from individuals and corporate donors. Capital One recently committed $90,000 to support programing.

More than 70 young people are currently employed at RHI and they hope to involve more young people in Red Hook by increasing the level of services to meet the rising demand for their programs, said Eisenhard.

For more information on 500 Futures, visit this website.

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