BROWNSVILLE, Brooklyn — Belmont Avenue in Brownsville is booming with programs enriching the neighborhood.
One city leader says the focus for so long has been the violence, drugs problems and lack of jobs plaguing her community. Now there is a new move to revive the vibrancy of Brownsville.
NYC Councilmember Alicka Ampry Samuel says she knows first hand the problems that families face in her district because she grew up in it.
But, she also knows just how hard families are working to improve their neighborhood.
“We are standing in front of Elite Learners. The organizer is born and bred in Brownsville. There is an emphasis on supporting local businesses," she said.
Non profit Elite Learners, started by former teacher Camara Jackson who is also the executive director, is a safe space that also provides robotic classes and mentorships, all for free.
“If you are building your community up, nine times out of ten, you won’t tear it down,” said Councilmember Alicka Ampry-Samuel.
One of Samuel’s favorite places is the Brownsville Community Justice Center.
“There’s fashion, design, print shops, So you say 'let’s remove the gun from your hand,' but what do you replace that with? This is that,” said Samuel.
About 500 kids have come through, most with their own success stories.
“We put cameras in their hands, sewing machines in their hands, software and technology,” said program director Ionna Jimenez.
Then there is the Brownsville Community Culinary Center where chef Claud Meyer created a program that has already placed dozens of people in new jobs.
“Some come in with no GEDs. Some have no prior work experience and we get them in a career oriented jobs,” said the co-founder Lucas Denton.