We view the robust US non-profit sector as a constellation running parallel to the more linear private and public sectors. Nonprofits provide checks and balances to the inequalities and social needs that arise within free and democratic societies. They provide balance, but all too often they find themselves disconnected from true collaboration with governments and the private sector. The relationship between Tyco and GTTC grant us an opportunity to document the way that creative mechanisms naturally arise when two parallel networks grow interconnected.
In the 1970’s, scientist James Lovelock developed the theory of “Gaia”, a concept that views the entire planet as a network of energy and matter, “a complex flow of interlocking feedback processes.” With this concept in mind, Parallel Networks synthesized two distinct entities, Tyco and GTTC, in exciting new ways. The expanded vision will send new energy through these concrete entities and stimulate such interlocking feedback.
GTTC is a 501-c-3 educational institution affiliated with Tyco Technological Industries. Tyco is a highly successful company that designs and produces inventions that make everyday life safer. GTTC’s pilot program in Brooklyn, NY, equips urban, at-risk residents with the job readiness and technical skills necessary for meaningful employment in the manufacturing industry.
The GTTC project was originally envisioned in 2007. However, when Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, the founder of Tyco realized its establishment was imperative. The doors opened in 2015 and the Center has been developing since. However, CEO Cynthia Dickerson envisioned the program as more than a tech-training center. As she describes it: “A myriad of issues face underserved urban communities. Job training I not sufficient in isolation. In order to truly serve residents, a more holistic approach is need”. Parallel Networks is working to help GTTC realize that conceptualization.
The urban at-risk labor market will face serious complications in the future. The technological sector is a constantly advancing component of the U.S. economy but at the same time, technological development pushes out menial service sector jobs by way of automation. Automation can have serious effects on the labor market, and only an educated workforce can compete under these circumstances. GTTC provides an ideal solution.
Additionally, the general trends associated with a globalization, downward pressure on wages, and flight of industry and manufacturing are visible across working-class neighborhoods. Currently proposed policies may indeed offer relief. However, both political parties have proposed $1 trillion in infrastructure spending, while the Trump administration has plans to slash corporate tax rates for small and large businesses to create immediate tax deduction for plant and industrial development, and to repatriate the $2 trillion in earnings held by U.S. companies overseas. If implemented, there will likely be a revival of manufacturing. However, without increasing the skill set within urban at-risk communities, the jobs created will be allocated disproportionately to other areas. GTTC’s educational services are therefore essential.
Figure 1: Charting GTTC's expansion
An expanded vantage allowed us to look at GTTC as more than just a training facility. GTTC own and operates two centers in Brooklyn, one of which currently has 10,000 square feet of unitized space. That space will be transformed. It will host community events, guest speakers and fund-raisers for GTTC and other organizations and causes. Students will gain free admission. Over time, the space may also be utilized for on-site social service provisions, such as mental health, substance abuse or supportive housing assistance.
As the utilization of the additional space transforms the company culture, a flow of energy between GTTC and Tyco will formulate additional interconnections. Graduates of GTTC will be offered an opportunity to enroll in an on-the-job training program with Tyco Industries. The experience will provide additional help in overcoming barriers to employment. Proceeds from finished products can push funds back into the training center. Two parallel networks are thereby limed in a multidimensional and dynamic manner. This creates innumerable possibilities for going forward, and the type of interaction between energy and matter contained in the “Gaia” theory.
Additionally, in order to expand the scope of services, a new class will be added at GTTC. The curriculum will be developed for a course on social responsibility. A local university will assist in the class development and then enhance abilities to derive measurable outcomes and evidence-based practices. The class will address a wide range of social issues: education levels and employment, technology and its role in society, media and music, civil and human rights, the role of activism and confronting social issues peacefully, incarceration and recidivism, countering violent extremism (CVE), etc. The course will include guest lectures and conversations with community actors, such as former gang members and professional basketball players.
Big Data/Tech Center
The enhanced scope will thereby lead to repeat flow or feedback. Training hours at GTTC end at 8p.m. In the evening, the space allocated as a community center will function as a big data/tech solution center. Tyco Industry engineers, alongside staff members from private and public organizations will utilize technology to address key social issues. Perhaps the NYPD will want to identify high-risk neighborhoods as the LAPD does: or perhaps social media networks which facilitate crimes like drug and human trafficking, or terrorism need monitoring. Many organizations have developed algorithms that address these areas. Students would witness the use of high-end tech first hand and gain valuable experience, while expanding social consciousness and protecting the community- an objective completely in line with Tyco’s purpose.
Provision of Social Services
These activities will change GTTC’s visions and make it a one-of-a-kind institution totally fit for replication across the country. In the final stage of development, and additional in-house social worker will be added to oversee the Big Data/ Tech Solution Center, to book the events center, to provide outreach for social service providers for referrals to GTTC and for services GTTC’s students require. These relationships will expand the network and attract key referral sources.
The issues faced by urban, at-risk residents are multidimensional. They require a multidisciplinary inputs and holistic and dynamic solutions. In consultancy with GTTC we’ve established and innovative way of approaching the problem. GTTC seeks to develop the type of tech/industrial skills necessary is an increasingly sophisticated labor market, but effectively achieving that objective will require more than simple training. The GTTC approach won’t find its graduates a job, it will promote persons and leaders to a career development and initiate a process of life-long learning.
Parallel Networks will continue to work with GTTC into the future. As we enter the implementation phase, we’ll require financial and professional support. We also look up to partner with private, public and non-profit organizations. We are honored to be involved, and encourage you to get involved as well. To support this project, simply contact us.