Future Edge
Courtesy of Tiffany Obi
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With the COVID-19 pandemic upending her community, Brooklyn-based singer Tiffany Obi turned to healing those who had lost loved ones the way she knew best — through music.

Obi quickly ran into one glaring issue as she began performing solo at memorials. Many of the venues where she performed didn't have the proper equipment for her to play a recorded song to accompany her singing. Often called on to perform the day before a service, Obi couldn't find any pianists to play with her on such short notice.

As she looked at the empty piano at a recent performance, Obi's had a revelation.

"Music just makes everything better," Obi said. "If there was an app to bring musicians together on short notice, we could bring so much joy to the people at those memorials."

Using the coding skills she gained at Pursuit — a rigorous, four-year intensive program that trains adults from underserved backgrounds and no prior experience in programming — Obi turned this market gap into the very first app she created.

She worked alongside four other Pursuit Fellows to build In Tune, an app that connects musicians in close proximity to foster opportunities for collaboration.

When she learned about and applied to Pursuit, Obi was eager to be a part of Pursuit's vision to empower their Fellows to build successful careers in tech. Pursuit's Fellows are representative of the community they want to build: 50% women, 70% Black or Latinx, 40% immigrant, 60% non-Bachelor's degree holders, and more than 50% are public assistance recipients.

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Courtesy of Back on My Feet
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Having graduated in the top 10% of Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC) cadets nationwide in 2012, Pat Robinson was ready to take on a career in the Air Force full speed ahead.

Despite her stellar performance in the classroom and training grounds, Robinson feared other habits she'd picked up at Ohio University had sent her down the wrong tracks.

First stationed near Panama City, Florida, Robinson became reliant on alcohol while serving as an air battle manager student. After barnstorming through Atlanta's nightclubs on New Year's Eve, Robinson failed a drug test and lied to her commanding officer about the results.

Eleven months later, she was dismissed. Feeling ashamed and directionless, Robinson briefly returned home to Cleveland before venturing west to look for work in San Francisco.

After a brief stint working at a paint store, Robinson found herself without a source of income and was relegated to living in her car. Robinson's garbage can soon became littered with parking tickets and her car was towed. Golden Gate Park's cool grass soon replaced her bed.

"My substance abuse spiraled very quickly," Robinson said. "You name it, I probably used it. Very quickly I contracted HIV and Hepatitis C. I was arrested again and again and was finally charged and sentenced to substance abuse treatment."

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Courtesy of Chef El-Amin
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When non-essential businesses in NYC were ordered to close in March, restaurants across the five boroughs were tasked to pivot fast or risk shuttering their doors for good.

The impact on the city's once vibrant restaurant scene was immediate and devastating. A national survey found that 250,000 people were laid off within 22 days and almost $2 billion in revenue was lost. And soon, numerous restaurant closures became permanent as the pandemic raged on and businesses were unable to keep up with rent and utility payments.

Hot Bread Kitchen, a New York City-based nonprofit and incubator that has assisted more than 275 local businesses in the food industry, knew they needed to support their affiliated businesses in a new light to navigate the financial complexities of shifting business models and applying for loans.

According to Hot Bread Kitchen's CEO Shaolee Sen, shortly after the shutdown began, a third of restaurant workers that they support had been laid off and another third were furloughed.

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Get Shift Done
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Shkoryah Carthen has spent half of her life working in the service industry. While the 32-year old restaurant worker quickly sensed that Covid-19 would bring real change to her daily life, Carthen hardly knew just how strongly it would impact her livelihood.

"The biggest challenge for me during this time, honestly is just to stay afloat," Carthen said.

Upon learning the Dallas restaurant she worked for would close indefinitely, Carthen feared its doors may never reopen.

Soon after, Carthen learned that The Wilkinson Center was desperately looking for workers to create and distribute meals for those in need in their community. The next day, Carthen was at the food pantry restocking shelves and creating relief boxes filled with essentials like canned foods, baby formula and cleaning products. In addition to feeding families throughout the area, this work ensured Carthen the opportunity to provide food for her own.

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Callen-Lorde
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As a transgender woman, Wanda Batista has long known the pain of receiving inadequate and non-affirming medical care. "Every doctor I went to would freak out," Batista says. "They didn't know what to do with me." Sometimes, she says, doctors would quickly transfer her case to another medical provider — but her new doctor would have no more knowledge or experience working with transgender clients than the last. And so the cycle continued. Batista would ask for help and be met with question marks. She'd have to buy her hormone treatments on the black market, putting her life in danger. "You wouldn't even know what you were getting back then," she says.

Batista's experience is infuriating, but sadly by no means unique. Recent research shows that the biggest barrier transgender people face when receiving healthcare is the lack of providers who understand the unique needs this population faces. This, along with other barriers including discrimination and income inequality, makes it harder for transgender people to access quality care. It's important that all members of the LGBTQ+ community receive quality, compassionate care from providers who affirm and understand their patients' experiences.

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Isaac Remsen via Capital One
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Capital One

Yvonne Gittens, or Ms. G, as most everyone calls her, practically grew up at the Cambridge Community Center (CCC) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She started going to their after-school program when she was in the second or third grade, and basically became a fixture of the place from that point on.

How she ended up there was no accident — her parents and their siblings went there as kids, as well.

"My joke is that I was conceived there," says Ms. G.

"When I was a kid, it was a safe place to be," she continues. "Everybody in the neighborhood went. It was inexpensive. I think we paid 50 cents a year for our membership."

The CCC was founded by a group of black pastors over 90 years ago because the other local community center was for whites-only at the time. In response to the blatant racial inequality and lack of opportunities for black community members, they created a haven for youth and adults alike from one of the few underserved communities in Cambridge; offering a variety of programs and services designed to help close the economic and generational gaps that still exist in the city. But perhaps most importantly, it's a place where people can feel at home and connected to a support system.

It's no surprise that families like Ms. G's keep sticking around, and that community members like her have woven the Center into the fabric of their lives. Once she was old enough, Ms. G got her first job at the Center checking kids into the program. Then she was a camp counselor teaching archery and swimming. When she became a parent, she sent her kids there, and now her kids send their kids. But over 30 years ago, she made an even bigger commitment to the Center — she became a board member.

Ms. G started off as a regular board member, but quickly moved to treasurer, and then onto secretary. Soon enough she was named the board president, overseeing all the Center's operations.

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Capital One
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Capital One

Like many people, Dana Nielsen had spent much of her life struggling with her relationship with money. "It was this object way outside of me that I didn't have control over," she says. "It was something that I needed but didn't value. And I didn't know how to have a relationship with something that I needed but didn't value."

Little did Nielsen know that exploring her relationship with money, figuring out what mental or behavioral obstacles were getting in her way, and forming a plan of action would give her power over her finances for the first time. But that's how she felt after three Money Coaching sessions in a Capital One Café—empowered.

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Courtesy of Queens Public Library
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If you were asked to imagine a public library, your mind would conjure up a familiar image: a giant room with books crammed onto every wall and shelf; patrons quietly reading at tables; a librarian (pleasant but stern) who would help you find anything you need but wouldn't hesitate to shush you at the slightest indication that your voice might raise above a whisper.

Perhaps these images were true during your childhood, but the library has changed. Though public libraries have always served as meeting places where people might gather for a book club or town hall, many are now full-fledged community centers where residents can not only borrow books and use computers, but also take part in programs that teach everything from life skills to job preparedness.

The Queens Public Library (which services the Queens borough of New York City) is a leader in this evolving space. The library's 66 locations boast more than 87,500 programs. These include standards like story time and knitting workshops, but also branch out into wellness (you can do yoga in the library!) and classes that help community members navigate the road to citizenship. And all of these programs are available within a mile of where most people reside. "Wherever you live in Queens, there's a branch near you," says Ewa Kern Jedrychowska, the deputy communications director for the library.

One program that's become overwhelmingly popular is "Ready, Set, Bank" (Listos, Clic, Avance), which the library offers in partnership with Capital One. Monique Hector, who manages programs with the library's Job and Business Academy (JBA), says JBA realized there was a need for a class on managing money and using online banking during existing workshops which helped residents find jobs.

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Courtesy of Capital One
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Capital One

Eighth grader Ailyn Moreno wants to save the planet, but she wasn't sure how she'd go about it until recently.

As a student at the Dallas Environmental Academy in Texas, Moreno knew she was interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), specifically science and engineering, but there are so many career choices that exist within these broad categories. She knew she wanted to hone in on her passion, but wasn't exactly sure how to apply her academic learning to the real world.

Then one of her teachers told her about Girls Inc., a nonprofit that empowers girls ages six to 18 to value themselves, take risks, and discover and develop their inherent strengths. Through long-lasting mentoring relationships, a pro-girl environment, and research-based programming, girls become equipped to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers, and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

Moreno was connected to the Eureka! STEM program at Girls Inc. of Dallas, which offers an intensive, five-year program to build a girls' confidence and skills through hands-on opportunities in STEM. She thought it "would open so many doors," so she decided to join.

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Courtesy of Capital One
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Capital One

It was around Christmas 2018 and Jean Simpkins, 79, was looking out the window of her new three-bedroom apartment. Eleven floors above Washington, D.C., the grandmother of two gazed out at the lights of the city and became overwhelmed with gratitude. "The only thing I could say," Simpkins remembers, "was 'Thank you, Father.'"

Almost a year later, Simpkins still can't help but look at the apartment as a miracle — one she desperately needed. Fifteen years ago, when her grandson was born, she became his primary caregiver. Six years later, when her granddaughter was four, Simpkins was awarded full custody of her, too. She's spent the time since trying to give her grandchildren the life she knows they deserve, which has been difficult on a fixed income. On top of that, Simpkins worried that the neighborhood the family resided in wasn't the best influence on her kids. Something had to change.

Then she learned about Plaza West, a new development created by Mission First housing that would reserve 50 of its apartments specifically for families in which a grandparent or other older adult was raising children who were related to them. The waiting list, Simpkins says, was daunting. There are a great deal of grandfamilies in the D.C. area and she was sure it might be years before she got the call. But soon after applying, she was offered a choice between a two-bedroom and a three-bedroom apartment. She accepted the latter, sight unseen. She knew that each of her grandchildren needed space of their own.

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via CancerLINC

Darnell and Leslie Henson

True
Capital One

Darnell Henson doesn't keep track of the date — it's just something he's never been good at — but he'll never forget February 23rd, 2018. It was nearly three o'clock in the morning when he awoke with a horrible pain in his stomach. His first thought: food poisoning. Darnell's wife, Leslie, had brought him a sandwich from work and he was certain it didn't agree with him. So he downed some Pepto-Bismol and hoped for the best. But an hour later, the pain had engulfed him. "This is not food poisoning," Darnell remembers thinking. "It's got to be more."

The pain grew every second. Soon, Darnell couldn't get up off the floor. He'd suffered a broken leg when he was younger and that pain was torture, but the pain he was feeling now was like nothing he'd ever experienced. He woke his wife and she rushed him to the emergency room where doctors ran tests all through the night. Darnell and Leslie were terrified.

Darnell remembers a doctor coming in to speak with them. She delivered news that would turn the Hensons' life upside down: Darnell had kidney cancer that had spread to his lungs. Soon after, doctors found six tumors on his brain, and then a mass on his hip. His cancer, he was told, had progressed to stage four.

"How much time do I have?" Darnell asked his doctor. He was told in March 2018 that he might have two, maybe three years left. Later that year, in August, the doctor told him he thought he was only going to live for four more months. These were some of the darkest days of his life, Darnell recalls. Then he lost his insurance and he and Leslie began to get really scared. They were being asked about wills, trusts, and advanced health directives. But the truth was, they had none of these things in place and hiring a lawyer was out of the question. The couple simply didn't have the funds.

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