To keep youth out of jail, nonprofit turns to Navy Yard’s workforce veteran
One of the leaders behind the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s noted workforce program is moving on to a group that works with young men coming out of the criminal justice system.
Dr. Jocelynne Rainey, chief administrative officer of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp., has been named as president and CEO of Getting Out and Staying Out, a nonprofit that helps justice-involved men aged 16 through 24 get access to education, jobs and emotional support. The program’s goal is to reduce recidivism, the rate at which those coming out of prisons and jails commit crimes again.
Rainey, a Bedford-Stuyvesant resident, succeeds Mark Goldsmith, who founded GOSO 15 years ago. Goldsmith will be moving to an advisory role. Since its founding, GOSO, based in Harlem, has expanded to serve more than 1,000 men every year across New York City.
The Navy Yard’s jobs program has been praised for working to knock down many of the barriers that formerly incarcerated individuals face. Since Rainey has been leading the program, 20 percent of the workforce hired there have been young men with legal complications. Out of 500 hires over the past eight years, 100 have had brushes with the law.
“I found through my work in workforce development at the Navy Yard and elsewhere that investing in marginalized populations is not only good for the individual, their families and the communities where they live, it is also good for the employers and their businesses,” especially in the current job market, she told the Brooklyn Eagle.
Rainey said she was eager to take the helm of GOSO “at a moment when organizations that work in our city’s communities and jails to level the playing field for people with criminal justice involvement and reduce violence are more crucial than ever.”
GOSO already works with young people in Brooklyn, she said, and she plans to expand programming and grow partnerships here.
“There are a myriad of issues that young men of color face that impact their ability to succeed,” Rainey said. “There are significant barriers for this demographic even when they have resources. There has been research that revealed that even African American boys from wealthy families will still end up stuck in a cycle of poverty. There are deep systemic issues regarding race and equity that make this true.”
Concentrated poverty, educational and economic disadvantages often result in the lack of a high school diploma and unemployment, she said. “These circumstances alone lead to young men of color being more likely to become justice-involved.”
GOSO’s program has a high level of success. Fewer than 15 percent of the organization’s clients return to prison, compared to an average of 67 percent for the 16-24 age group.
Goldsmith, a retired business executive who has received accolades for his work with GOSO, got the idea for the organization in 1993 when he visited Horizon Academy at Rikers Island as a volunteer Principal for the Day. His idea was to bring successful people to Rikers to coach young men, and to continue to coach them when they got out.
Since then, his organization has become a partner in the city’s Works Progress Program, and GOSOWorks has placed hundreds of young men at businesses including restaurants like Dos Toros and Littleneck Outpost, shops like One Girl Cookies and Ovenly Bakery, and construction and transit companies like Rusk Renovations and Vamoose Bus Lines. About 70 percent of young men completing the GOSOWorks program have gotten full-time jobs.
GOSO works with the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and has also partnered with the NYC Department of Education to start and expand a high school equivalency program.
Dr. Rainey will assume her new role on Jan. 6, 2020.
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