The Thinkubator, a Bronx-based nonprofit organization, announced the launch of its spring programs after receiving more than 200 applications for 60 work-based learning slots.
The Thinkubator’s work-based learning programs are 10 weeks long and seek to prepare underrepresented youth from the Bronx with work experiences, career exploration and wellness support while earning a salary.
Participants will partake in four programs that prepare them for jobs: The Thinkubator Solves (junior consultant), The Thinkubator Trains (project management), The Think Tank and Higher Education Consultancy (research and analytics assistant) and The Thinkubator Leads, Youth Council (community advocate or engagement specialist).
The Thinkubator Solves is a youth-led design thinking consultancy program co-designed by HERE to HERE, DreamYard, The Do School and The Bronx PIC where junior consultants (students), with the support of professionals, craft solutions to real-world challenges. Over the next few months, they will tackle challenges that each business faces and will provide solutions to these pressing challenges the first week of May in a public presentation. The Thinkubator Solves launch of Spring programming with three clients: Uptown & Fresh Barbershop, Krasdale Foods and Imperfect Foods.
Uptown & Fresh Barbershop is a newer barbershop in Wakefield, that faces issues that many small businesses in New York City and beyond face: operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. Restrictions due to COVID-19 and a decline in foot traffic have led to new barbers facing a reduction in walk-ins and overall customers.
The owner and founder of Uptown & Fresh, Jesus “Heyzeuscutz” Ramos has tasked the junior consultants with providing methods for increasing foot traffic and social media connections with the aim of increasing the number of customers.
“Working with the youth in our community is extremely exciting for us at Uptown & Fresh,” said Jesus Ramos, owner and founder. “The Bronx is what inspired us. Knowing that The Thinkubator program can provide an opportunity for growth to kids just like us while helping expand our client base and reach for community service in the future, made the decision to get involved is an absolute no brainer. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for the program, the barbershop and everyone involved.”
Krasdale Foods is a grocery distributor located in the Bronx. It supports and operates supermarket chains including Bravo and CTown as well as thousands of bodegas around the city. John Borzumato, director of new business development has tasked the junior consultants with providing a roadmap for Krasdale to own and operate a neighborhood grocery store.
Imperfect Foods was founded in 2015 with a mission to eliminate food waste and build a better food system. They offer imperfect yet still delicious, produce, affordable pantry items, eggs, dairy, proteins and more and deliver them to customers.
Angie Crone, the marketing and social impact manager has assigned the students to develop a grant making program that equitably rewards micro-grants to organizations that will aid in advancing Imperfect Foods’ mission and embody their core values.
“Imperfect Foods, delivering kinder, less wasteful groceries, is thrilled to be collaborating with The Thinkubator’s Solves Program to design Imperfect’s Feeding Change Fund grant-making program for 2021,” Crone said. “Working with youth-led innovators will bring a fresh and creative perspective to how we leverage our fund to eliminate food waste and build a better food system for everyone while also inspiring the next generation of food heroes.”
The Thinkubator Trains Spring 2021 has launched with a diverse group of students from three universities/colleges and eight respective high schools. The program works with Bronx youth and area companies on team project-focused assignments offering organizations the opportunity to shape the future of the nation’s workforce and participate in the development of young people’s careers and goals. This features returning employers Montefiore Medical Center and RAP4Bronx and new employers sites Mott Haven Fridge, The Thinkubator, Inc. and a global influencer whose research project will showcase the skills and talents of the students.
The Thinkubator Trains previous semester’s program work partnered with RAP4Bx tackling food insecurity in the Bronx. This semester it will focus on creating a community connected food sustainability model incorporating urban farming, AgriTech training and hands-on implementation utilizing youth ingenuity to challenge the concepts of what does the future of the industry look like for boroughs, towns, and cities similar to the Bronx.
The Think Tank at The Thinkubator is a youth-oriented research center focused on understanding the Bronx as a contested, complex urban form, and addressing narratives of marginalized Black, Brown, female and low-income communities. The Think Tank provides young people with opportunities to learn about research, writing and analysis.
It will allow youth to conduct research and analysis, produce policy briefs and report, evaluate and measure The Thinkubator programs and activities, and host meetings and public forums to elevate voices. In addition to the Think Tank, The Thinkubator has leveraged its expertise in higher education to provide research and strategic consultancy to colleges and universities under its Higher Education and Nonprofit Consultancy arm of the organization.
The Thinkubator LEADS (Youth Council) program aims to unite young people in the Bronx and beyond, foster relationships between both youth and community-based organizations and allow participants to develop leadership, communication and interpersonal skills. This semester the Leads program kicked-off with new member orientation on March 3.
The goal for 2021 is to increase membership from 10 to 15 and to tackle major communal issues impacting youth. The main topic addressed for 2020 was food insecurity, which resulted in a guide to be shared with the broader Bronx community in physical and digital formats. The top two ideas identified by the students for 2021 are: pollution/environmental racism and LGBTQ+ rights/gender equality. The council will also lead a town hall with the Bronx Borough Presidential Candidates on March 31.
“During a time when there is so much uncertainty about the future of education and work, we must not miss a beat,” said Dr. Edward Summers, president and CEO, The Thinkubator. “The Thinkubator provides young people with critical skills such as critical thinking, communications, project management, presentation skills and a plethora of soft skills that are transferable to any industry and important to being successful in one’s position. We are training youth for positions that will place them on a pathway to earn above a family sustaining wage.”