Grace Institute recently opened the doors of its brand-new location on Rector Street, in the heart of New York City’s Financial District, signifying a major strategic commitment for the next chapter of the 115-year-old organization. On Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, Grace Institute hosted a special grand opening and ribbon-cutting event, attended by local elected officials and other governmental leaders, business representatives and corporate supporters, including Robin Hood Foundation and Capital Group as well as Josh Katz, principal architect at Gensler, who discussed the design and intention behind the space.
Those present toured the new facility, located on the 14th floor of 40 Rector Street. American Securities, also in attendance at the opening, donated $100,000 for classroom technologies.
“This is a tremendous step for our organization,” said Brigid Lang, interim executive director of Grace Institute. “Our prime location better positions Grace Institute as the market leader in women’s workforce development, while connecting us to companies based in the Financial District so that we can continue our transition into a sector-focused, demand-driven workforce development program.”
The nonprofit organization’s move from its former Upper East Side headquarters to its new, state-of-the art facility near Wall Street positions program participants in proximity to the major companies and businesses where they may one day be employees. Historically, Grace Institute has served approximately 300 women annually, placing 80 percent in jobs. The organization aims to double the number of women served by 2017, and the new facility will advance that goal by expanding programming, including plans for new evening classes.
Notable features of the new 32,000 square-foot location include expansive spaces for collaboration and learning, in addition to technological upgrades. The facility has six classrooms, a community lounge, board room, town hall, and computer technology and professional development classrooms. The $10.2 million project also doubled the organization’s bandwidth and integrated A/V capabilities within all classrooms and meeting spaces. These enhancements will ultimately foster an improved learning experience for students.
“The modern design and efficient use of space, with updated wiring and technology, incorporate a sense of flow and beauty. It is a comfortable, welcoming training space for lifelong learners,” Lang said. “Because of the new technology, we streamlined our keyboarding instruction by utilizing online software that meets each participant where she currently is, rather than having an instructor teach the same curriculum to every participant regardless of her typing speed. Additionally, we are able to bring online learning into each classroom and all meeting spaces, using projectors, laptops and white boards. This allows instructors to incorporate current events and the wealth of information available online into any point of their curriculum, thus enriching conversation and making the instruction more relevant.”
Since 1897, Grace Institute has provided workforce development programs to women, ages 18-65, with the goal of increasing their marketplace competitiveness and financial self-sufficiency. According to organizational figures, those who complete the program typically achieve an average income of $32,000 a year, from just $6,000 annually prior to completion of Grace Institute courses.
“The move to 40 Rector St. represents an enormous leap forward for our program,” says Grace Institute Chairman, Patrick Grace. “Accessibility for women is a top priority, and we are now within a 4 1/2 block walk from 13 Subway lines, plus the PATH. For the first time in our 119 year history, we will be able to offer easy access for women from all five boroughs plus New Jersey. The space is welcoming, modern and beautiful, and provides our women with an inspirational atmosphere for learning. We love being Downtown, the fastest growing and most historically significant part of New York City.”
About Grace Institute
Founded in 1897, Grace Institute has helped low-income New Yorkers for more than 115 years. Founded by former New York City Mayor W.R. Grace, the organization was originally established to support women in need through education and employment programs. Throughout its existence, Grace Institute has continually expanded and evolved its offerings – today providing training and professional development in technological, business and administrative skills for the 21st century workplace, with the goal of helping women achieve viable employment and gain economic self-sufficiency. Since its inception, more than 100,000 women have matriculated through Grace Institute. For more information, visit http://www.graceinstitute.org/.