In 1983, Sr. Mary Franciscus, RSM, founded OBT in a small storefront on 4th Avenue in the Sunset Park community of Brooklyn. At the time, there were many youth in the neighborhood that were dropping out of High School and not working. City officials called them “disconnected youth”, and Sr. Mary embarked on a journey to design a program that would give these young people access to both the educational and vocational skills needed to get back on track in life. Over thirty years later, I am honored to have the opportunity to continue this important and profound work.
OBT has changed some since Sr. Mary started the organization. Today we have six locations throughout NYC, including two partnership sites with the YMCA of Greater New York, and we serve over 5,000 people annually. Our budget of over $7 million consists of a healthy mix of both public and private funding, and we a dedicated team of some eighty talented staff that I am proud to work with each day. Our areas of competency include workforce development, high school equivalency instruction, adult education and employment. We are also the largest provider of job training services to “Opportunity Youth”, 17-24 year olds that are not working and not in school, the majority of whom do not have a High School Diploma. These youth represent a tremendous untapped resource that can help fuel NYC’s economy well into the future, if we invest in giving them a chance to succeed.
Success at OBT only comes when the young adults themselves make an equal investment in their own development. Confidence, Discipline and Professionalism are the three cornerstone principles that guide all of OBT’s work with our clients. All of our programs seek to build on these principles to promote positive change within the individuals we serve. We don’t, however, make excuses for them if they fail. Accountability is an important component of what we teach, and we believe that only through such accountability can people ultimately empower themselves in a way that helps them to achieve self-sufficiency.
Finally, a dedicated group of employers that are willing to hire our graduates represent an equally important part of the OBT success equation. We only work with companies that provide “career-oriented” positions that will enable our clients to grow and continue to learn. Most of our youth will ultimately go on to college, recognizing that learning is a life-long process and higher education is the key to greater lifetime earnings.
So let me welcome you to our website, your virtual doorway to connect with OBT. Whether you’re a potential client, donor, employer or policy maker, we hope you will find something of interest on our site. We always welcome the opportunity for you to connect in person, so feel free to stop by anyone of our locations and experience firsthand our mission in action.