On the third floor of a corner building on Mott Avenue, a young man overlooks the neighborhood below, the teeming construction sites and developments that promise to bring resources and jobs to the community. Khaleel Anderson, 25, is the youngest Black Assembly Member in New York State history. Khaleel, who lives in Far Rockaway, serves District 31, an area that also includes South Ozone Park and JFK Airport.
Khaleel graduated from Urban Upbound’s Youth Pathways program not long ago. The program helps young adults with a public assistance case find employment and provides them with training services. It also has a financial literacy component to ensure our clients learn valuable skills on money management, credit building, and banking. “The financial empowerment piece was really important for me,” said Khaleel. “You guys have great resources and I want to be clear: this is a community that I’m privileged to serve and represent, but it is underbanked and underrepresented. Two bank branches just closed in my district.”
Unbanked and underbanked New Yorkers rely on payday loans, check cashing services, and pawn shops to take care of their finances. “Having a financial center encourages people to be empowered and allows them to prepare themselves for bigger purchases and stability,” said Khaleel. “I commend UU for their work.”
Our Youth Pathways Far Rockaway Site Manager, Vismary Vargas, remembers Khaleel’s time in our program. “It was a pleasure to work alongside him. He is a strong headed young gentleman, and he knew what he wanted. He made his dream come true. He’s a great example to his peers” she said.
Khaleel has advice for young students who live in the community, “Find a passion. Find something you really like doing and become a master at it.” In the journey of discovering his passions and aspirations, Khaleel faced some internal challenges. “As a young man, coming from a low-income, single parent household, I was very angry,” said Khaleel. “I was trying to find myself and I found myself through advocacy. Instead of being angry about the small things. I attacked oppressive systems and systems that perpetuate poverty and things of that nature. There are many social and emotional issues that many people are facing, so it’s important to channel that energy and help others.”
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