22 Highlights of 2022: Urban Upbound’s Year in Review

Urban Upbound NYC
8 min readDec 30, 2022

As we approach a new year full of opportunity and growth, we are taking time to reflect on what an incredible year 2022 has been for Urban Upbound. We proudly share 22 of our favorite highlights from 2022:

1. College Access Goes to Canada

Our College Access Program traveled to Montreal, Canada with HydroQubec to learn about renewable energy, academic possibilities, and cultural diversity. Some of the many trip highlights include, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal, and a tour of HEC Montreal Campus. Pretty cool, eh?

2. Mental Health Program Launch

In 2022, Urban Upbound launched our new mental health program, providing free one-on-one counseling and mental health programming to our clients. Like all of our services we have been able to seamlessly integrate and incorporate mental health into our existing services providing full wrap around support.

3. Financial Fitness Program Rapidly Expands

2022 has been an exciting year for our financial fitness program! We have been rapidly expanding our reach, adding many new sites and pop-up shops across the city. One of our most successful being the pop-up financial workshops & clinic at Pomonok Houses.

4. ACI Training Program

Urban Upbound proudly partnered with Andromeda Community Initiative (ACI), to provide job-related training that prepares our clients for gainful employment in the construction industry. Our cohort of clients completed their five week training and graduated with a new set of skills and all the certifications needed to get started on the job.

5. Urban Upbound in-person gala returns!

After two long years of virtual events, we celebrated the return of our in-person gala, Celebrating Success, and raised over $400,000 to continue providing services to low income families. With entertainment curated by celebrity icon, Eric B., including performances from Monifah Carter and Doug E. Fresh, and honorees Carol Wilkins, Billy Robinson, and Mayor Eric Adams… it was certainly a night to remember!

6. Love Where You Live Campaign

In collaboration with The Office of Neighborhood Safety, and the New York Department of Criminal Justice, we have been able to administer violence intervention projects proposed by subcontractors, and conduct healing work through our Love Where You Live Campaign. Through the Love Where you Live Campaign, we have distributed over $4 Million in funding to 32 organizations across all five boroughs.

7. $18M returned to the community

Like every year, Urban Upbound’s free tax preparation has been a key service for our clients. In 2022, we were able to return over $18 Million to the community and filed over 11,000 returns. Urban Upbound’s free tax services offer a smart alternative for NYC families who are often forced to pay high fees through paid services that can cost hundreds of dollars.

8. CitiBike Community Rides

This past year, you may have seen our team riding through your neighborhood as a part of our CitiBike Community Rides. Throughout the warmer months of the year we organized many bike rides throughout the neighborhoods we serve, promoting the importance of being active and building community.

9. Cooking Up Success at the Hospitality Training Pathways Program

This year, we sent a cohort of students to the Hospitality Training Pathways Program, to kick start their hospitality careers. The Hospitality Pathways program offers expert-led training, with the goal is to equip students with the skills they need to build sustainable hospitality and food industry careers. Our client’s had the opportunity to train at the famous Carmine’s Italian Restaurant in Times Square, and 100% of our clients found employment after completing the program!

10. Saving Big in 2022!

Urban Upbound’s certified financial counselors provide low-to-moderate income individuals and families with a suite of financial services geared toward achieving financial literacy, stability, and success. In 2022, we provided free one-on-one financial counseling services to over 1,500 clients!

11. Class of 2022 Soars to College

Our 2022 College Access graduates have just completed their first semester of college and we couldn’t be more proud! 100% of our 2022 graduates stayed with the program for three years, were accepted into college, received generous financial aid/ scholarship packages, enrolled in a two or four year university, and completed their first semester. Talk about a win for College Access!

12. Making Affordable Housing Accessible

Urban Upbound Rent Ready Affordable Housing workshops allow participants to learn from experts on important topics for securing affordable housing, such as: effective preparation for affordable housing lottery, housing search tools, fair housing and equal opportunity rights, and how to use NYC Housing Connect. We are proud to share that we have over 400 participants in our affordable housing workshops this year!

13. A Special Visit from Ohio

This spring students from Baldwin Wallace University in Ohio visited Urban Upbound as a part of their Alternative University Break program, to learn about innovative ways to reduce poverty in urban tracks. Urban Upbound provided the student volunteers with an immersive educational experience, including frontline volunteer opportunities and informational discussions throughout the day.

14. Gun Violence Prevention Program

In 2022, Urban Upbound was a proud partner in the State’s Gun Violence Prevention and Employment Initiative run by CWE, which targets young adults ages 18–24. A key component of the gun violence prevention strategy is to provide access to and readiness for career opportunities for young adults in low-income communities. This year, Urban Upbound reached over 350 young adults and placed over 100 in jobs!

15. Cannabis Webinar Series

Urban Upbound, in collaboration with Columbia Care and Cannabis Workforce Initiative, held an exciting six-part cannabis webinar series with over 2,000 viewers, focusing on cannabis major topics in the cannabis industry including, Health Benefits, Job Opportunities, BIPOC Cannabis Business Owners, Expungement and Record Sealing, and Community Resources & Co-Ops. All webinar recordings can be viewed here: https://urbanupbound.org/cannabis/

16. In-Person College Tours return!

While virtual college visits have become an exciting and engaging part of our College Access program, there is nothing like an in-person tour! In 2022, we took our students to visit University of Delaware, East Stroudsburg University, and Hunter College.

17. Annual Turkey Giveaway

This Thanksgiving, Urban Upbound was able to help distribute over 1,000 turkeys across the various communities we service thanks to the generosity of Rise, Light & Power, Share 4 Life Foundation, Queens Defenders, and Office of the Queens Borough President, with the help of many of our non-profit partners and the local Tenant Associations. Our community was able to come together to ensure every family had food on their table this Thanksgiving.

18. Back to School Events

This fall our team distributed hundreds of backpacks and bags of school supplies to our clients. We are proud to offer the children of our community the tools and resources needed to succeed this academic year.

19. Urban Upbound Wins CAURD License

CAURD licensees are the first retail dispensaries to open for legal adult-use cannabis sales in New York State. A total of 900 applications for licenses were submitted under the state’s Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary program, and Urban Upbound was selected as one of the 36 organizations to receive a license.

20. YouthPathways kicks off new Workshop Catalog

Recently our YouthPathways Team kicked off a new virtual workshop catalog series providing holistic, high-quality education and employment services, fully integrated with financial counseling, specifically customized for low-income youth in Western Queens. We look forward to watching our workshop catalog continue to grow in 2023.

21. Helping Local Entrepreneurs

It’s no surprise that small businesses and local entrepreneurs were hit the hardest by COVID-19. In 2022 Urban Upbound was able to assist over 150 local entrepreneurs, providing them with governance, marketing and design, financial planning, strategic planning, M/WBE certification, back office support, and access to capital through the UU Federal Credit Union.

22. Holiday Parties and Toy Giveaways

The year would not be complete without Urban Upbound’s signature toy giveaways/ holiday parties! This year we held six different holiday events and distributed over 1,000 toys across our various sites thanks to many of our generous donors.

The Urban Upbound team wishes you a Happy New Year! We look forward to continue tackling poverty and changing lives in 2023!

Our work wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of our donors. Your donation allows us to keep reaching more families. If you’d like to learn more about our impact and work, please follow us on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube) or subscribe to our newsletter.



Urban Upbound NYC

A collection of stories around NYC’s public housing communities curated by Urban Upbound, a non-profit organization with a mission to break cycles of poverty.