When you first meet 21-year-old Quaming Boatwright, his love for fashion quickly becomes apparent. No matter the season, Quaming never misses out on the chance to express his style, which is why you may see this Brownsville, Brooklyn resident sporting a blue collared shirt peppered with small white hats and bowties or staying warm in a silver studded leather and wool jacket.
But Quaming’s eye for beautiful arrangements isn’t superficial. He dedicates himself to putting his best foot forward, a trait helping him make a strong entrance into New York City’s competitive workforce.
Quaming, like thousands of his fellow Brownsville residents, knows that the odds of finding steady employment have been stacked against him. For months, Quaming would tap his friends and family for job referrals while personally inquiring about potential positions at businesses around Brooklyn and Manhattan. Yet his dedicated search wasn’t getting him the results he was looking for. Time and again, he found that opportunities were expensive to travel to or out of reach because he lacked experience and specialized certifications.
Back at square one, he knew he needed to find a way to build his resume but was unsure of where to turn, as his own knowledge and local networks weren’t turning up a productive path forward.
A little over a year ago, Quaming’s search changed upon coming into contact with a network of NYC workforce groups and local community organizations partnering to change employment outcomes for Brownsville’s job seekers. The joining of diverse resources within Quaming’s own neighborhood meant that an internship with the Brownsville Community Justice Center geared towards revitalizing spaces in his own neighborhood led to local job fairs, part-time work at Dollar Tree, a GED program, and a design technology internship with the local firm Made in Brownsville.
As a Youth Junior Designer for Made in Brownsville, Quaming created a lookbook, designed logos for Brownsville entrepreneurs and marketed his own clothing designs. That work piqued Quaming’s interest in graphic design, which he now aims to pursue full-time. “I want to start my own business,” he says, reporting that the first steps are “to go to college for graphic design, business and product design.”
Quaming’s early struggles and subsequent successes demonstrate the possibilities that come from strategically connecting previously fragmented workforce resources right within Brownsville, a neighborhood struggling with extreme unemployment. It’s an approach that Community Solutions is helping partner organizations coordinate.
While Quaming’s latest career step does not involve graphic design, it does position him for college. As a member of Green City Force, an AmeriCorps program, Quaming helps make public housing developments more environmentally friendly. Upon completing the 10-month program, Quaming hopes to earn a scholarship, enroll in an undergraduate graphic design program and eventually strike out on his own as a professional designer. With his proven ambition, the possibilities are bright.