Counsels

INVESTMENT: $21.9 MILLION | BENEFIT/COST RATIO: 12:1

Sometimes, all people need is a guiding hand. Robin Hood helps tens of thousands of poor New Yorkers start businesses, stay housed, reduce debt, avoid deportation and access public benefits and services for multiple populations: veterans, seniors, students and immigrants. We guide them to the appropriate social services at the right places to best solve their individual needs. And through Single Stop, we do it all under one roof.

Michael M. Weinstein
Robin Hood chief program officer

IMPACT


We help nearly 200,000 poor New Yorkers access life-changing services and benefits that move them toward stability and out of poverty. The counseling programs we support help working adults file tax refunds, assist senior citizens in obtaining food stamps, provide jobless adults with guidance to obtain unemployment insurance, and work with troubled adolescents to help them embrace community projects and potentially avoid jail time.

Problem


The process for finding, connecting to and accessing services and benefits can be arduous. It often requires complex applications and in-person interviews that entail multiple, time-consuming and confusing visits to various government bureaus and community organizations. It’s an exhausting cycle often rooted in government red tape and formalities; fragmented systems; and often bewildering and unclear information and guidance about rules, regulations and procedures.

Approach


Robin Hood funds multiple programs that help low-income New Yorkers improve their lives and financial stability. We fund programs that counsel individuals about how they can qualify for and access public benefits. We fund the largest free tax preparation program in the country that helps low-wage workers complete tax returns and claim the Earned Income Tax Credit. And Robin Hood supports numerous youth development organizations that help adolescents make smarter choices in life through community and civic engagement, education or employment. All told, Robin Hood spends about $21.9 million on nearly 100 agencies to provide counsel and guidance on critical issues that can have a profound impact on a low-income person’s life.

HERE'S HOW WE DO IT


We reached more than 4,000 youth, who are often homeless, sometimes engage in criminal activity and have high rates of mental illness. We support programs that seek to reduce these high-risk behaviors by providing counseling, education and access to crucial support services like mental health counseling and job training programs. By doing so, we help disadvantaged youth find paths to a more promising future.


We connected more than 15,000 low-income families to high-quality legal services to help them resolve matters such as housing disputes and workplace rights issues, immigration issues such as getting green cards or applying for asylum status, and to gain access to public benefits for which they are eligible.


Robin Hood and our partners are building software to help users navigate the maze of social services and connect them to the best services, at less cost and in far greater volume.


We helped to fill gaps. For example, in October 2014, we launched the Immigrant Justice Corps. We estimate that with quality legal services, as many as 200,000 poor New Yorkers can “upgrade” their legal status—obtaining green cards or U.S. citizenship—enabling them to get better-paying jobs, health care and financial aid for school and public benefits.

HIGHLIGHTS


Center for Court Innovation

The Center for Court Innovation (C.C.I) creates practical, highly innovative solutions to the problems that plague our court systems and communities. C.C.I. does this via a broad range of programs that work with young people. Those who are eligible for its Juvenile Opportunity Intervention Network program (Join) come from three segments of the court population: Family Court, where they have been charged with juvenile delinquency; Criminal Court, where 16–21-year-olds have active cases; and probation. Based on the nature of the case and the young person’s circumstances, a judge can refer an individual to Join, a program that works to reduce recidivism. After a young person is enrolled, a Join social worker conducts strength-based assessments that focus on the youth’s family life, educational setting, employment status, peer group, extracurricular activities and personal interests. Based on these assessments, the social worker refers participants to on-site and off-site services and provides case management throughout the individual’s tenure in the program.


Immigrant Justice Corps

The Immigrant Justice Corps (I.J.C.) provided the largest expansion of immigration legal services in New York City’s history and the country’s first fellowship dedicated to providing high-quality legal assistance for immigrants seeking citizenship and fighting deportation. Robin Hood identified, helped design and seed-funded this innovative program for immigrants. First proposed by Judge Robert Katzmann, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the I.J.C. will recruit, train and place approximately 40 fellows in the field every year. Fellows include recent college graduates and talented attorneys who are placed at non-profit law firms and community-based organizations throughout New York City. At scale, I.J.C. will enable these organizations to serve thousands of additional immigrants and their children each year as they build foundations for better lives in the United States.


Single Stop

Single Stop makes it easier for families to access benefits. Founded by Robin Hood 12 years ago, Single Stop combines technology, training and consulting services to provide free and confidential information about obtaining social services, as well as financial, housing and legal counseling, and job placement services in low-income neighborhoods. It connects low-income individuals to benefits and supportive services that would otherwise go unclaimed. It should be noted that this technology makes it possible to determine eligibility in as little as 15 minutes, instead of weeks. Single Stop sites also provide crucial legal, financial and tax counseling that helps individuals maximize their newly tapped resources. Robin Hood funds the largest free tax preparation in the country via Single Stop. The Earned Income Tax Credit—a rebate to workers who earn low wages—constitutes the most powerful anti-poverty weapon the country has devised for non-elderly individuals. We fund eight of the top 10 and four of the top five highest-volume, free tax sites in the country.

Community Partners


AARP
Ali Forney Center
Andrew Glover Youth Program
Ariva
Association of the Bar of the City of New York Fund, Inc.
Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
Bronx Defenders
BronxWorks
CASES
Center for Court Innovation
Center for Employment Opportunities
Center for Family Life in Sunset Park
Center for Urban Community Services, Inc.
Family Center, The
Fifth Avenue Committee
Fortune Society
Fund for the City of New York – Women’s Center for Education and Career Advancement
Goddard Riverside Community Center
Good Shepherd Services
Grand Street Settlement
Harlem Children’s Zone
Health Leads
Henry Street Settlement
Hetrick-Martin Institute
Immigrant Justice Corps
Institute for Family Health
Lawyers for Children
Legal Aid Society
Legal Services NYC
LIFT
Make the Road New York
Manhattan District Attorney Office

Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City – Center for Economic Opportunity
Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City – Family Justice Centers
MDRC
Medicare Rights Center
Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty
Minkwon
Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners
New Economy Project
New York City Financial Network Action Consortium
New York Community Organizing Fund, Inc.
New York Foundling Hospital
New York Legal Assistance Group
New York Presbyterian Fund, Inc. – Audubon Family Planning Practice
New York Public Library
New York Taxi Workers Alliance
Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation
Public Health Solutions
Safe Horizon
Safe Passage Project
SCO Family of Services
Single Stop USA
Syracuse University: Institute for Veterans and Military Families
The Child Center of New York
The Door
The Financial Clinic
Urban Justice Center
Urban Upbound
Women in Need, Inc.
Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corp.