2017 READI launchWestchester/Putnam -- On July 12, the Westchester-Putnam Workforce Development Board, Peekskill Youth Bureau, Westchester Children’s Association, and Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce, officially launched the READI program in Westchester and Putnam. READI represents the workplace attributes businesses look for in youth they hire: Respect, Enthusiasm, Articulate, Dependable and Initiative. More than 40 youth who have already received the training were on hand to celebrate the kick-off.

Additional representatives present for the event included:

  • Danielle Satow, Executive Director of the City of Peekskill Youth Bureau
  • Peekskill Mayor Frank Catalina
  • George Oros, Executive Director of Westchester County Economic Development Department representing County Executive Rob Astorino
  • Westchester County Legislator John Testa
  • Allison Lake, Deputy Director of Westchester Children’s Association
  • Stephanie Weston, Vice President of Marketing for Westchester Bank
  • Joanne Dunne of Westhab, Inc.
  • Marianne Oros representing Senator Terrence Murphy
  • Deborah Milone, President and CEO of Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce
  • Richard Leins, City Manager of Peekskill

The partners involved with bringing the curriculum to Peekskill include Westchester-Putnam Workforce Development Board, The Guidance Center of Westchester Inc., Westhab, and Westchester Bank, which provided a grant to Westchester Children’s Association for the program.

The interactive READI curriculum is taught over several weeks to students who are then better prepared to be hired. A critical component of the training is for the youth to be employed over the summer where they can put those new skills into action. The Workforce-Development Board is working with various agencies to facilitate this process, including the Westchester Business Council and the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce located in Peekskill. “It is inspiring to see government, businesses, and youth programs collaborate to help young people prepare for their futures,” said Cora Greenberg, Executive Director of the Westchester Children’s Association.

“READI was developed based on feedback we received from employers,” stated Donnovan Beckford, Director of the Westchester-Putnam Workforce Development Board. “We went to work with our partners to determine how best to foster and develop the desired attributes and today we are all very proud of the result. We have curriculum and we have trained several instructors who are ready to deploy this resource across this city, our counties and beyond.”

“Providing our youth the tools to make a positive entry into today’s workforce is an important, meaningful endeavor,” remarked Stephanie Weston, Vice President of The Westchester Bank.  “The Westchester Bank is privileged to support READI, where helping launch new careers may well impact the development of our business leaders of tomorrow.”

The pilot program in Peekskill represents the first community kick-off of the READI program as it is rolled out across neighboring communities in Westchester and Putnam counties. Additional trainers are being sought to volunteer to teach the curriculum. Youth agency representatives are encouraged to register, as are retired teachers and others who work with youth in any capacity. Applications for consideration can be submitted online or by contacting Allison Jones at (914) 813-6153 or by e-mail at alw3@westchestergov.com.

Program History
In November 2011, The Westchester-Putnam Workforce Development Board (WPWDB) appointed an ad hoc committee to examine the attributes that businesses look for when they hire youth and to develop a strategy for helping teens prepare for the work experience.  The committee was comprised of representatives from local colleges, universities, businesses, business membership organizations, youth services organizations, and religious organizations.

The committee recommendations became READI. Hospitality Resource Group was hired to develop the curriculum which was then made available to a few pilot organizations in Westchester and Putnam counties. WCA’s Connecting Youth workgroup fully endorsed the initiative.

“As a child advocacy organization, we would like to see more youth serving organizations throughout the county trained in READI, but the biggest challenge is training large groups of people,” stated Allison Lake, Deputy Director, Westchester Children’s Association. “Volunteers from the Peekskill community will play a vital role in getting this training to as many of their young people as possible.”

Photos of the day

READI students

READI students and One-Stop organizers


READI launch

READI launch


READI launch

READI launch


READI launch

READI launch

READI launch



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