For 23-year-old Brooklynite Ashantee Robinson, securing her associate’s degree from Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) was no easy feat, but having the support and help from the staff at Good Shepherd Services made that journey a lot smoother.
Robinson was one of the many participants connected to the Brooklyn-based non-profit community organization, Good Shepherd Services after she realized it was time to further her education.
She joined the GSG Brooklyn Lifelink and Young Adult Borough Centers (YABCs) Programs, helping her overcome any roadblocks in her way to both a degree and a more promising future.
“They helped me prepare for testing to get into college. They also help afterward, once you get in, with tutoring. They provide you with Metro cards, just in case you can’t afford fairs to get back and forth to school. They provide us from time to time with prizes or gift cards whenever you do well or get hired,” Robinson said.
Good Shepherd Services Brooklyn Lifelink currently helps 149 participants, and their educational support programs care for 11,000 people.
But Good Shepherd nearly lost all their funding due to the recently passed $88.1 billion Fiscal Year 2021 city budget.
In Mayor Bill de Blasio’s executive budget, he slated massive cuts to nonprofits doing social services because of a $9 billion revenue shortfall due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, under the spending plan passed yesterday, the city’s operating budget will remain the same with funds reallocated for summer youth programs, educational and social services, and housing initiatives.
Good Shepherd Services would have been just one of the affected organizations affected by cuts.
GSG Executive Director Michelle Yanche thanked the mayor for partially reinstating funding to summer youth programs.
“This victory speaks to the power of young people across our city who are fighting for city leaders to reevaluate public policy and funding priorities,” she said.
The FY 2021 budget also saved the CUNY’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) academic program – which is dedicated to helping students earn an associate degree by providing developmental support, and tuition help for students – with money reallocated from the police department budget.
Which is all good news to Robinson, who has now transitioned to online learning to finish her degree and credits her counselors for always making sure to check on her with home visits or phone calls.
“Without Good Shepherd Services, I probably would have dropped out, if I’m being honest.” Robinson said, “I feel like they’re my family who genuinely cares about me and my well being.”