Rockaway Development & Revitalization Corporation

Social service work helps our community thrive by uplifting the voice of the residents. This work has a direct impact on those here in the Rockaways, which is something to have pride in. As organizations learn what successful collaborative change looks like, they are constantly looking for inspiration from nonprofit organizations. There is great pride in being one part of the larger non profit community of organizations that are uplifting areas all over the country and it is important for advocacy work to give recognition and support to fellow change makers. The progress of our community requires organizations not to compete against one another, but rather, to work together to fight the injustices we see. The more good work that is being done, the better off our cities will be. It is important for nonprofit organizations to support each other, which is why this June issue highlights a particular organization: The Rockaway Development & Revitalization Corporation (RDRC).

The Rockaway Development & Revitalization Corporation was founded in 1978 by a group of concerned residents, business owners, as well as community leaders and officials. RDRC was created in response to a visible decline in the Rockaway Pennisula’s social and economic fabric. The organization was a collaborative effort between smaller nonprofits across the peninsula (Far Rockaway Revitalization Corporation, The Rockaway Local Development Corporation, and Arverne Hammels Holland Seaside Housing Corporation) that were all previously dedicated to uplifting their respective neighborhoods and felt it was time to join together and formulate a comprehensive plan to revitalize the entire peninsula. Since its founding, the RDRC has done great work within Rockaway. More recently, the organization has turned its attention to its annual Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). The goal of SYEP is to introduce youth between the ages of 14 and 24 to the workforce and equip them with the skills necessary to be productive and successful professionals. This summer, SYEP will provide on-site job training for teens and young adults ages 16 to 24. The work sites are in every part of New York City in industries ranging from commercial business to government jobs. Youth will gain invaluable hands-on experience in fields that interest them and have the ability to envision possible career paths for their futures. In addition to the older age group job site training, RDRC will take around 700 students aged 14 to 15. Students will receive paid workshops focused on professional development. The workshop topics vary from health and wellness to Financial Literacy and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) related work. SYEP not only provides students with learned skills, but also uses compensation to incentivize them to learn. Furthermore, it allows young people to think about financial security through learning money saving techniques that will be useful for navigating adulthood.

According to its website, the mission of RDRC is “to promote the revitalization of the Rockaways economic base and neighborhoods, and to secure an improved quality of life for its residents.” With its focus on youth over the summer, RDRC is surely providing a hope for the future of Rockaway. This sentiment is reflected in what past SYEP employee, Lisa Dazzell, said about her experience:

As a SYEP employee, I gained professional development and career awareness skills, which provided me with resume work experience and allowed me to network with individuals in my surrounding community. The opportunity to be a SYEP employee was particularly advantageous for me because I was able to be employed throughout the summer and save money for the following school year.

As Dazzell professed, the work RDRC is doing through the SYEP is admirable and significant for the youth in our community. RDRC sets a great example for other nonprofits looking to positively impact their communities beginning with career building for young adolescents and young adults.