2003-12-19 / Community

Coalition Aims to Break Cycle of Poverty for Young Women

Contributing Editor
By Miriam Rosenberg
Coalition Aims to Break Cycle of Poverty for Young Women By Miriam Rosenberg Contributing Editor


Rabbi Robert Kaplan of the Jewish Community Relations Council speaks at the CFR meeting.Rabbi Robert Kaplan of the Jewish Community Relations Council speaks at the CFR meeting.

The Coalition for Far Rockaway (CFR) has undertaken a project called Breaking the Cycle in an attempt to break the cycle of poverty among young women in the Far Rockaway area.

The project is being funded by a grant from the Alianz Foundation for North America. Rabbi Robert Kaplan who, in addition to being a member of CFR, is the Director of the New York Center for Community and Coalition Building (a project of the Jewish Community Relations of New York) wrote the grant.

"Breaking the Cycle started a year ago [before we had the grant] when we did a conference on women in poverty and the types of initiatives and challenges [women] face moving from poverty to self-sufficiency," Rabbi Kaplan told The Wave.

"There’s a high percentage of women that live in the cycle of poverty in Far Rockaway."


Harvey Gordon, the executive director for the Jewish Community Council of the Rockaways, speaks at the meeting.                                                    Photos by Miriam Rosenberg.Harvey Gordon, the executive director for the Jewish Community Council of the Rockaways, speaks at the meeting. Photos by Miriam Rosenberg.

The first year of the grant will center on leadership training in the community.

Community leaders, religious leaders and professionals in the community will learn what the issues are that face these young women in poverty and how to meet the challenges.

"[We are training] how…we, as a multi-stake holder coalition – everything from government across the board to community based and faith based organizations... become part of the process in allowing that cycle of poverty, especially in young women, to be broken," said Rabbi Kaplan.

CFR plans to use focus groups and workshops, such as one on January 14 to help a woman manage her finances called Women’s Financial Literacy.

In the second year of the project, the hope is to bring the training to the young women who will benefit from the help by starting an internship and a young women’s leadership group.

"These people will, sort of, be the vanguard of helping change happen in the community," said Rabbi Kaplan.

Rabbi Kaplan also said that they would like to see a cooperative book store be developed in the community that would allow for job training, literacy training and a place where women could gather for seminars and training as they to move out of the cycle of poverty. Such a store would be in the third or fourth year of the grant.

In the short term, a conference on the subject of mentoring is being planned for next year.

"There are women in this peninsula who have made their journey from being in poverty to being …economically independent," said Rabbi Kaplan. "If a women in the community, or someone who used to live in the community can show people that it’s possible. [That] this is how you make it to the other side, and this is what happens when you do. That’s the most powerful tool you can use."


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