OBT was founded in a run-down storefront in 1983 by the late Sister Mary Franciscus, RSM, to serve the at-risk, out-of-school, and unemployed youth of Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
Sister Mary Franciscus
Over the next decade, OBT established innovative employment and training strategies for young people and moved into a modern training facility at the former St. Rocco’s Youth Center located in Sunset Park. In addition, OBT instituted new programs including support services for the newly employed, adult job training, and daytime and evening literacy classes. Due to the success of its programs, OBT opened a second full-service site in 2001, OBT Bushwick/Williamsburg, to serve residents of Bushwick, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Williamsburg in response to a lack of needed services in these communities.
- In 2002, OBT was one of nineteen job training programs nationwide to receive the PEPNet Award in recognition of program excellence.
Dolores Abbruscato and Sister Mary Franciscus, OBT founders
In 2005, OBT’s founder, Sister Mary Franciscus passed away, but her longtime commitment to Brooklyn’s youth has inspired and motivated the staff, the majority of whom have worked for OBT for more than ten years, to continue her legacy of good work. After a prolonged search in 2006, the Board of Directors announced the hiring of a new executive director, Randolph Peers, former Vice President at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, who has over seventeen years of experience developing and managing job training and employment programs for disadvantaged populations.OBT's service model is unique among youth programs
due to its comprehensive scope of training and it’s emphasis on personal discipline. The youth training model is an intensive 20-week program that includes GED classes (if needed), business math, business English, office procedures, computer classes (MS Office), public speaking and communications, and a world-of-work module. A simulated real work environment is an integral part of the entire curriculum. For example, students punch in and out on a time clock each day, dress professionally, and are given work assignments with timelines for completion. Excessive lateness and absenteeism result in the student being "fired" from the program; we offer few second chances. The model is often referred as a "tough love" approach, but in our experience, many young adults need discipline at this point in their lives. Students that successfully complete the 20-weeks emerge with a General Equivalency Diploma (GED) and the skills necessary to obtain and retain employment. Most of our job placements are white-collar office related positions in financial services firms, law firms, government, and other related businesses. Our overall job placement percentage averages about 85% annually. A percentage of our graduates also go on to enroll in college.
The majority of our participants are economically disadvantaged minorities with barriers to self-sufficiency including lack of a high school diploma, deficiency in basic skills, no marketable job skills, chronic unemployment, single parenthood, past drug abuse and/or criminal records, and limited English proficiency. Today OBT serves approximately 1,500 youth and adults annually
. Since the organization’s inception in 1983, we have helped approximately 5,000 young people and over 2,500 adults improve their lives and the lives of their families
. OBT also has a rich cadre of alumni who have gone on to successful careers but still remain involved in OBT today.