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Pro bono work isn’t just for lawyers

A team of bankers is helping Brooklyn Workforce Innovations secure the future of its Brooklyn Woods skills training program.

A team of bankers is helping Brooklyn Workforce Innovations secure the future of its Brooklyn Woods skills training program. One of our graduates, Elizabeth, explains what she’s involved in:

"My name is Elizabeth, and I grew up in Westfield, New Jersey and Breezy Point, New York. I am a graduate of the University of Richmond (Go Spiders!), and have worked at Barclays for over five years in our Equity and Structured Funds group. I’m part of a team of five bankers who are helping a nonprofit over the next 12 weeks.

While many of us are involved in citizenship and philanthropy initiatives through Barclays, none of us had ever heard of a program quite like the Barclays/Tap Root Pro Bono Program.  The program connects Barclays’ employees with nonprofits that are facing critical capacity-building challenges in the areas of financial management and strategy. For the purpose of this challenge, the Barclays teams are working specifically with nonprofits that support local workforce development. My teammates and I found this inspiring right off the bat because we wanted to give back and empower the communities around us to thrive. While there are many ways to contribute to society, it is not often that you can actively help those in your very own backyard on a large scale, and see your collaborative work directly impact your community. So while most of our team had not met before, we were immediately bonded together by this shared passion. Over the course of the next 12 weeks, we will jump into the deep end and get to know our nonprofit – and each other.

My team is paired with Brooklyn Workforce Innovations (BWI), a nonprofit that provides skills training for unemployed and underemployed New York City residents. BWI has a number of programs, but we are concentrating our efforts on their Brooklyn Woods skills training. Brooklyn Woods offers a seven week full-time course in woodworking that prepares students for entry level jobs in custom woodworking, cabinetmaking and fabrication.

After chatting on an initial introduction call and at our kick off meeting at the Pro Bono Program’s launch event, our team and Brooklyn Woods agreed that we would focus on market research of bathroom vanities, as well as a vanity pricing model and exploring what their optimal production numbers should be. By providing them with this information, we hope that they will be able to better position themselves as a business in the vanity market, and perhaps expand the types of construction projects they do. This will increase their efficiency, and maximize the impact of their community outreach by creating a more sustainable business model. While no one on the team is an expert in woodworking, we are able to utilize our financial analysis and research skills to tackle the critical challenges Brooklyn Woods is facing. I think it’s safe to say we are all a bit out of our comfort zones! Luckily, we have great partners at our nonprofit that we can count on to explain everything from their financials to what a bathroom vanity actually is.

At the end of the 12 weeks, our team hopes that by providing Brooklyn Woods with the tools to optimize their pricing models and production outputs, they will be able to maximize their services to the community. For the Barclays folks, we are all already grateful for the new networks we have found through this project and the unique opportunity to use the skills from our day jobs to positively impact our communities."