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Technology and Wellness Hub 'The Campus' To Launch in Brownsville This Fall

By Camille Bautista | March 18, 2016 4:38pm | Updated on March 20, 2016 4:18pm
 Sen. Jesse Hamilton, joined by Assemblywoman Latrice Walker and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, announced the planned Fall 2016 launch of The Campus, a technology and wellness hub for Brownsville.
Sen. Jesse Hamilton, joined by Assemblywoman Latrice Walker and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, announced the planned Fall 2016 launch of The Campus, a technology and wellness hub for Brownsville.
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DNAinfo/Camille Bautista

BROWNSVILLE — Brooklyn could get its own Silicon Valley with the planned launch of a new technology and wellness hub in Brownsville.

State Sen. Jesse Hamilton announced “The Campus” on Friday, a partnership with 30 organizations and agencies to build digital literacy and improve public health in the Brownsville community.

The initiative is expected to kick off this fall with app development workshops at NYCHA’s Howard Houses, technology and coding sessions at two local schools and workforce and wellness education at the Brownsville Library.

“Together we will help thousands of children and families by destruction of the cycle of generational poverty and incarceration in Brownsville,” Hamilton said.

“The Campus will counter the negative influences of crime, drugs and poverty and help children complete college and go onto the job market with the skill sets that they need to be productive.”

Elected officials and NYCHA representatives dubbed The Campus the country’s first technology and wellness center at a public housing site.

Other satellite sites include Mount Ollie Baptist Church on St. Marks Avenue, where participants can receive counseling, and the YWCA on East New York Avenue, where the Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger will provide a mobile food pantry.

The planned project aims to create co-working spaces for local start-ups and entrepreneurs, as well as addressing public health issues such as stress and anxiety, Hamilton said.

Programs will be open to the community and will primarily operate after school with a focus on youth aged 12 through 18.

“Our kids are facing a lot of stress in their lives with school, drugs, gangs in the community, coming home to no food. So that’s something we’re going to work on and we’re going to have an holistic approach to making this happen,” Hamilton said.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said Friday that he would commit half a million dollars to help grow the initiative.

In its most recent health assessment, the city identified Brownsville as Brooklyn's poorest neighborhood and the seventh-poorest neighborhood in New York City. An estimated one in six Brownsville adults agesd 16 and older is unemployed, according to city figures.

Participants at The Campus will be able to develop confidence in their abilities, educational leaders said, and expand their career opportunities.

“I want to put that image in your head that for every African-American or Latino male that you see within this community of Ocean Hill/Brownsville, imagine them being STEM-trained, and the girls too,” said Mauriciere de Govia, superintendent of School District 23.

“When you see them, see them coding. See them creating video games. Because they don’t belong in prisons.”

The initiative would also help take the steps to address mental health issues early on and spur action to stop the “prison pipeline,” elected officials and community organizers said.

Brownsville is home to the city’s second-highest incarceration rate, according to city figures.

Assemblywoman Latrice Walker, who represents the neighborhood, said the programming would help eliminate the notion of a “technology desert” in the area and bring awareness to the positive work being done in the community.  

“It doesn’t have to be all about violence that personifies our neighborhood. It can be this,” Walker said.