The Partnership for the Homeless

Economic Opportunities Program

In 2017, the Partnership launched a pilot initiative designed to help parents with a history of homelessness and unemployment become engaged in a workforce development program that not only sets them on a path to secure career-oriented employment, but also builds the self-efficacy and confidence needed to achieve educational and employment milestones outside of a dedicated program and ultimately gain the belief that they can thrive independent of public assistance or a housing subsidy. The Economic Opportunities Program (EOP) is rooted in the theory that formerly homeless single mothers need to varying degrees 1) the internal strengths and assets to meaningfully engage in workforce development training and establish long-term education and employment goals, and 2) the external strengths and assets to secure and excel in living-wage and career-oriented work.

EOP is designed around the premise that the root of family homelessness and poverty is joblessness exacerbated by social isolation and the lack of a social and institutional support system. These two problems lead to low economic and social resources, lack of role models, and cultural learning that produces negative structural outcomes (weak labor force attachment and limited access to informal job networks) and social psychological outcomes (low self-efficacy and adverse social dispositions), all of which restrict upward economic mobility.

EOP utilizes a three-pronged service approach to counter program engagement obstacles and develop future career orientation and financial independence among all program participants. What distinguishes EOP’s core components–career development and mentoring, education, and wraparound case management support–from other workforce development programs is a focus on internal and external asset building that is interwoven through each phase of the EOP 12-month service curriculum.

Employer and professional mentor relationships in the community are essential to EOP clients’ program engagement and workforce advancement. Since its launch, EOP has enrolled multiple corporate partners and its professionals across various industry sectors for internship, job placement, and career mentoring opportunities, including financial service professionals from Capco, accountants from PricewaterhouseCoopers, teachers, legal assistants, healthcare professionals, and engineers.

In its initial year of operation, 70 formerly homeless women began 3-month internships, followed by four weeks of workshops, job placement assistance and financial literacy classes; an additional 57 single parents received direct service support in the form of job placement and retention. Once the participants have completed the training and found their first employment or education opportunity, we maintain contact over a 2-year period to help them advance their long-term career goals, as well as help them with any problems they might face in their work life. Ultimately, within that 2-year period, clients will reach a level of independence and stability on their education and employment path that loss of subsidies and life setbacks will not trigger another episode of homelessness. 


A program participant celebrates her internship placement with Janice Tosto, EOP’s Career Mentoring Coordinator.


EOP Personnel

Mario McMichael, EOP Director
Mario is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day delivery of program services including career mentoring, career development, education, and family advocacy. He plans, implements, and evaluates all learning-based programming and advocates for the organization, its clients, and other stakeholders in the community through various public and private channels. Mario has a B.A. in English from Cleveland State University, an MSSA in Community and Social Development from Case Western Reserve University, and a Professional Certificate in TESLA (Teaching English to Adult Speakers of Other Languages) from the Literacy Assistance Center in NYC. Mario has extensive social service experience in project development, program management, community outreach, and has demonstrated an adept ability to resolve conflict through negotiation with various stakeholders while championing the efforts of sensitive and diverse populations through multi-leveled approaches to advocacy.  Before joining PFTH, Mario was the Economic Opportunities Manager at the West Side Catholic Center in Cleveland, OH where he directed the Employment Program, Employment Mentoring Program, Financial Literacy Program, and the Learning for Life GED Program. Contact: 212-645-3444 ext. 501 or MMcMichael@pfth.org.

Simone Ford, Career Pathways Developer
Simone is responsible for working with clients to find suitable entry level, and various full time career opportunities as well as second-tier and above employment. Responsibilities also include ongoing career coaching, job prospecting, and employer relationship development and partnership. Simone also establishes partnerships with various CUNY colleges to offer clients opportunities to continue their educational path. Simone has been in the field of job development /workforce development for over 30 years forming long term partnerships with CUNY and other partner workforce development community based organizations. Her areas of expertise include program management, case management, curriculum development, and teaching. Contact: 212-645-3444 ext. 504 or sford@pfth.org.


Janice Tosto, Career Mentoring Program Coordinator

Janice oversees EOP’s volunteer career mentoring initiative, recruiting and maintaining career mentors while fostering strong mentor-client relationships through listening, guidance, advice, teaching, and professional support. Resources, values, and perspective are used to foster the personal and professional growth of clients. Janice has a B.A. in American Studies from SUNY Old Westbury, an M.S. of Education in Guidance and Counseling from Hunter College, and a Professional Certificate in Career Planning and Development from New York University. She has served as a workforce development professional for  nonprofits and colleges in the New York City area including the Albert Einstein College of Medicine DOSA Division and Bronx Community College. Contact: 212-645-3444 ext. 503 or jtosto@pfth.org.


Hasani Taylor, Education Coordinator
 
Hasani Taylor is the education coordinator for EOP. She instructs the job readiness, soft skills, and financial education workshops. Hasani also assists clients with career specific educational planning. Hasani is a recent graduate of Fordham University's Graduate School of Social Service with an M.S. in Nonprofit Leadership. Hasani began her career in the nonprofit sector over 10 years ago working for AmeriCorps. She then transitioned into the public school systems of Atlanta and New York City. Hasani has also worked at Per Scholas located in the South Bronx. While working as a program manager for Per Scholas, Hasani Taylor developed, managed, and ran a cohesive and comprehensive high school youth IT Career Pathways Program for NYC high schools.  Hasani is also a Princeton Club member and has volunteered for various organizations in the New York City area. Contact: 212-645-3444 ext. 505 or htaylor@pfth.org.