Stephen Wise member Philip Weinberg likes to take his 7-year-old daughter, Sylvia, to work. “I love showing her the amazing resilience of individuals who have overcome incredible obstacles and odds,” he says. Phil is the CEO of STRIVE, an international Harlem-based nonprofit that helps hard-to-employ individuals enter the work force. STRIVE helps the most at-risk populations, including the formerly incarcerated and the homeless. “We believe deeply in the power of employment to help break the cycle of poverty,” he says.
With an untraditional resume for a nonprofit leader that includes a Wharton MBA, Phil has always been drawn to work that is focused on social impact. Prior to joining STRIVE in 2011, he served as president of the New York City Workforce Investment Board, a group appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to oversee services in the city that help New Yorkers get jobs.
A commitment to tikkun olam runs in the family. Phil’s wife, Jessica Donner, leads Every Hour Counts, a coalition of cities that increases children’s access to quality learning opportunities.
With offices across the United States and in London and Jerusalem, STRIVE has helped more than 60,000 people find jobs. In addition to its job-skills classes and on-site training in fields like auto mechanics and energy efficiency, the nonprofit removes roadblocks that could prevent a client from finding or keeping a job. This runs the gamut from providing professional clothing and subway cards to offering referrals for childcare and mental health counseling. “For many of these folks, we become their support system,” Phil says.
Stephen Wise’s commitment to social justice resonates with Phil. “‘We are our brother’s keeper’ — this is an important value in our family and one that we very much find at Stephen Wise,” he says. Phil and Jessica have also taken their older daughter to the synagogue’s Next Step Men’s Shelter, where they prepared a meal for the men. “It’s such a positive way for families to embody this value and take part in the Stephen Wise community.”
Photo by Don Hamerman