Organization Name: Settlement Housing Fund
Project Title: The SUNY Attain Lab @ St. John's Place Family Center
Project Location: Crown Heights, Brooklyn
The SUNY ATTAIN Lab @ St. John’s Place is the third advanced technology and information networking lab to open in Brooklyn. Through this SUNY initiative, technology labs are placed in communities where residents can have access to the internet, state-of-the-art hardware and interactive, multimedia software. The ATTAIN project seeks to narrow the existent digital divide by providing ongoing access to education and training through the use of technology. Once access occurs, computer literacy and training can begin, and opportunities for success in school and at the workplace increase. The natural outcomes are enhanced employability skills leading to greater earning potential and academic skills leading to post-secondary enrollment. The SUNY ATTAIN lab is a key programmatic partner in Settlement Housing Fund’s work to grow young adult and homeless parent workforce development initiatives on its St. John’s Place campus.
In June of 2016, a SUNY ATTAIN lab opened at the St. John’s Place Family Center, Settlement Housing Fund’s transitional housing for homeless families in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The ATTAIN (Advanced Technology Training and Information Networking) facility includes a 23-station computer lab and two full-time IT education specialists who guide participants through an array of online coursework, including Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Certification and Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) Certification training. The lab is free and open to the public Monday through Friday, from 9 am to 6 pm, and is a valuable resource for St. John’s Place residents and DREAMS YouthBuild & Young Adult Training students who seek to acquire work readiness skills. Our DREAMS Youth- Build students helped to refurbish the new space and worked with the arts in education and social justice organization, Groundswell, to create a mural for the lab that celebrates the diversity of the Crown Heights community.
The SUNY ATTAIN Lab @ St. John’s Place is serving predominately lower income and unemployed adults, from the local and surrounding neighborhoods of Crown Heights, including Brownsville and East New York, where there is a great need for IT skills training that will increase employability of participants in a number of fields. We are encouraging St. John’s Place Family Center parents to enroll in IT training to earn certification and credentials while they are in residence in our housing, and our older young adult DREAMS YouthBuild students use the lab for online coursework to complete their high school equivalency diplomas. The younger students in the DREAMS program are utilizing the ATTAIN lab to increase their Microsoft Office and other computer skills, and will soon have access to a computer technician certification program called CompTIA A+, which will be a valuable addition to our IT workforce development track.
Settlement Housing Fund (SHF), a nonprofit affordable housing/ community development organization, created the St. John’s Place Family Center in 1990 as an alternative to welfare hotels. Located in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, the Center provides temporary housing, day care, infant care, and case management to 97 families at a time, assisting them in obtaining employment and affordable housing. In 1994, SHF added permanent hous- ing to the block for 33 low-income families, including ten who relocated from the Family Center, and in 2004 built a new 35-unit building, which is also the site of the DREAMS YouthBuild program. SHF recently completed the renovation of a townhouse for programming and revitalized a neglected community garden that is used by neighbors, Family Center residents, day care children and DREAMS YouthBuild students. SHF also creates and maintains concentrations of high-quality housing with programs on the Lower East Side, in Upper Manhattan, and in the Southwest Bronx.