On December 19, The New Jewish Home hosted a ceremony at its Manhattan Campus honoring the first graduating class of SkillSpring Young Adult Program participants at Metropolitan Jewish Health’s (MJHS) Isabella Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing Care in Washington Heights, along with graduates from the program’s Hebrew Home at Riverdale by RiverSpring Living’s class in the Bronx.

SkillSpring is a workforce training program that combats the nursing shortage in aging services and connects young people with career opportunities in health care, creating pathways to economic mobility in underserved communities. To date, over 90% of alumni across SkillSpring’s High School and Young Adult Programs are employed or enrolled in postsecondary education. Isabella Center is the second skilled nursing provider to pilot the program in addition to Hebrew Home at Riverdale by RiverSpring Living in 2022.

“It is critical we expand programs that can help tackle the acute workforce crisis among health providers serving older adults,” said Dr. Jeffrey Farber, Chief Executive Officer at The New Jewish Home. “SkillSpring is a replicable model that has delivered outstanding results for the past 17 years, and we are incredibly grateful to Senator Cordell Cleare for securing New York State funding in this year’s budget to grow the program. Graduating our first cohort at Isabella Center is a significant milestone as we continue to expand SkillSpring across New York.”

The SkillSpring Young Adult Program is a three-month full-time training that provides hands-on learning and mentorship for young adults, along with wraparound services for those experiencing significant barriers to participating in the workforce. Young adults who complete the program and attain a Certified Nursing Assistant credential are guaranteed a job offer from partnering skilled nursing providers.

From left to right: SkillSpring Director Nicole Cash, CEO at The New Jewish Home Dr. Jeffrey Farber, Senator Cordell Cleare, SkillSpring Young Adult Program Manager Moustapha Mbaye, Manhattan Deputy Borough President Keisha Sutton-James, and Assistant Administrator at MJHS Isabella Center Jessica Garcia-Robinson

“SkillSpring solves two pressing issues at the same time — staffing shortages and racial equity,” said Nicole Cash, Director of the SkillSpring Program. “We have worked with individuals that have experienced homelessness and we have created avenues for economic success, sending several of our graduates to nursing roles within premier health systems. Today, I am proud to celebrate these remarkable SkillSpring participants at Isabella Center and Hebrew Home at Riverdale by RiverSpring Living and commemorate SkillSpring’s continued expansion across New York.” 

Isabella Center’s first SkillSpring graduating class consists of 14 individuals and Hebrew Home at Riverdale by RiverSPring Living’s most recent cohort graduated 14 young adults, all of whom will now be pursuing careers as CNAs.

“Participating in the SkillSpring program was a wonderful decision for MJHS Isabella Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing Care because it aligns with our mission and benefits this class of future CNAs as well as our residents,” said Loyola Princivil-Barnett, COO of MJHS Centers for Rehabilitation and Nursing Care and Administrator of MJHS Isabella Center. “With staffing shortages widely impacting health care in general, this transformational program addresses a significant need while opening the door to a career path for young adults who might otherwise not have this opportunity. We thank The New Jewish Home and SkillSpring for this partnership and we cannot wait for our graduates to officially join our team,” Princivil-Barnett added.

“The SkillSpring program has had a remarkable impact on Hebrew Home at Riverdale,” said Margaret Kelly, Nurse Educator at Hebrew Home at Riverdale by RiverSpring Living. “Over the past year, we have seen our young adult participants grow to become exceptional nursing assistants, and we have seen our residents make impactful intergenerational connections that have enriched their lives. This past cohort has been the strongest to date. ”

As SkillSpring continues to expand with New York City and New York State funding, elected officials have voiced their support for the program as a solution for addressing health care workforce challenges.

“SkillSpring represents a proactive approach to addressing health care staffing shortages in New York State. This is the opportune moment to channel investments into workforce programs that help us train the next generation of skilled professionals, so we have the necessary talent and resources to provide compassionate care for vulnerable New Yorkers. Congratulations to this year’s graduates, and I look forward to witnessing the continued success of this impactful program and the promising careers that lie ahead for these dedicated young professionals,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

“I am exceptionally proud of all the graduates of the Skillspring Program, whom I know will go on to make an appreciable difference in the healthcare field;” said Senator Cordell Cleare, Chair of the New York State Senate Aging Committee. “Furthermore, I thank The New Jewish Home for their longstanding commitment to providing quality career pathways for our local youth in a way that allows them to grow and thrive, while learning the skills to provide for their families and give compassionate care to others.” 

“The SkillSpring program does more than prepare our youth for higher education and careers in healthcare–it empowers them with knowledge of how to create positive, lasting change in their communities,” said Council Member Shaun Abreu. “I am so excited to watch these young leaders flourish in the years ahead. Congrats, grads!”

In 2006, The New Jewish Home launched SkillSpring as a training program for high school students from under-resourced high schools. Starting in 2014, SkillSpring expanded its focus to include young adults (18-25 years old) disconnected from school and work. SkillSpring’s comprehensive occupational and human development training provides underserved young people with the skills, credential, and employer matching to start working as Certified Nursing Assistants as soon as they successfully complete the program and attain their Certified Nursing Assistant credential.