We Rise Above the Streets

We Rise Rise Above The Streets Recovery Outreach Inc. is a nonprofit organization located in Syracuse, New York. Founded by a man who experienced ten years of homelessness himself, we deeply understand the needs and concerns of those in our community who are experiencing a lack of housing and support for basic needs. Combining our experience in homeless services and workforce development, our organization provides workforce readiness, job placement, and life stabilization services to the homeless and financially vulnerable in our community. We strive to empower them toward their own goals for self-sufficiency, bridging the gap not covered by our local social services organizations through education, tools, and the resources required. At this time, we are seeking grant funding support to help expand our outreach efforts as financial insecurity and homelessness has been on the rise in our community.

Mission Statement
We Rise Above The Streets Recovery Outreach Inc. delivers high energy messages that encourage people to live up to their full potential by breaking the cycle of homelessness and criminality.

Organization History

Founded in 2014, We Rise Above the Streets Recovery Outreach Inc. began as a result of the experiences of our founder, Al-Amin Muhammad. For ten years, he was homeless on the streets of Atlanta, Georgia. Having grown up in the south side of Chicago in a Haitian Catholic family, he experienced many life-threatening situations. By the time he turned 15, he found himself lured into gang life, participating in violence, and using drugs. He was subsequently shot in a drive-by shooting when he was 25 years old, barely escaping death from his injuries. He also served time for his criminal behavior, which is where his life changed. In 2008, a fellow inmate asked him what kind of legacy he was leaving behind for his two daughters. 

This question prompted him to do some soul searching, which included turning to Islam, graduating from college, and becoming an addiction counselor. After establishing the organization in Syracuse, he has been surrounded by hundreds of volunteers who help him to provide more than 10,000 sack lunches to homeless and food-insecure individuals and households over the last seven years. The organization has also helped more than 20,000 people receive not only a meal, but clothing, shoes, and hygiene products weekly. 

Our community outreach cookouts include a Thanksgiving dinner where we help bring awareness to homelessness. Partnerships with various organizations and schools in the Syracuse area have helped the organization spread the message of compassion and encouragement to everyone encountered. Mentorship programs with at-risk youth in the city’s most challenging schools have helped some youth to turn their lives around and become inspired to serve the community.

Al-Amin’s ability to invoke action has drawn the attention of CBS This Morning News where he was interviewed on March, 2023. Jay-Z Rock Nation also recognized his efforts during black history month. Syracuse University has awarded him with the 2021 Exemplary Leadership during COVID-19 Award. The mayor of Syracuse honored him by giving him his own holiday on March 19th called Al-Amin Muhammad Day. The American Red Cross awarded him the Real Hero Award in 2020, and Delta Sigma Theya Sorority gave him the Marjorie Dowdell Fortitutde Award in 2021. TLC The Leadership Classroom awarded him with Exemplary Leadership during COVID-19 in 2021. He is also an active member of the Onandaga County/Syracuse Human Rights Commission Board, the CNY Regional Healthare Equity Task Force, and the author of the book, “ My Purpose of Life.” An active community activist and advocate, he works in partnership with numerous school districts in Onodaga County and Central New York in order to have a bigger impact and outreach for services offered.

Demographics served
We serve all demographics regardless of age, race, religion, culture, or disability. We have many who are veterans, who have a disability, are considered at-risk youth, or are elderly. The geographic region we serve is central New York state.

Problem

The pandemic has devastated many communities worldwide. Syracuse was not exempt.

 “Rents in Syracuse increased an average of 25% since 2020. At the same time, low-income tenants lost pandemic reliefs and struggled to deal with inflation. The result has pushed out of their homes people who were just hanging on: Overall homelessness increased 40% in Central New York since 2021.” 

New York state currently has the second highest homeless population in the nation. Out of the 74,173 people who are experiencing homelessness in New York State, 12,338 are outside of New York City. To make things worse, “Syracuse has the second-highest percentage of families in the nation getting by on less than $10,000 a year.” The reality is that 3,700 families are currently making less than $10,000 per year, and more than 11,000 families are earning less than $35,000 per year. When pairing this with increased rents, it sets a downward spiral of impossibility for close to 15,000 families in the community facing homelessness, food insecurity, and other basic needs going unmet. 

There are supportive housing programs within the Syracuse area, who offer shelter for those in need. Those include Catholic Charities of Onodaga  County, the Rescue Mission Alliance of Syracuse, and The Salvation Army Syracuse. What We Rise Above the Streets offers is not housing, but support for enduring as well as help to overcome and change the circumstances for many of the families we come into contact with. Most importantly, we offer human connection and acknowledgement.

Programs

We have programs that vary from outreach, education, providing necessary items, and food for those in need. Most importantly, we offer the human touch and provide meaningful interactions with those who we come into contact with. It is with this genuine connection that our volunteers are ablet o see homelessness and poverty humanized. Helping people see each other as people rather than circumstances helps to raise our community in awareness and compassion. 

If We Eat, They Eat

In our If We Eat, They Eat campaign, We Rise Above The Streets helps the community come together and make a difference in the lives of their neighbors with our Sandwich Saturday event. This event serves both the homeless and the housed. Through the providing of basic needs, not only do we serve those in need, we help them to feel seen and the volunteers are awakened to the realities of their community. Sandwich Saturday is a food outreach campaign where we bring sack lunches for more than 1,000 people each week. On occasion, we also offer coats, clothing, and other resources such as hygiene kits.

We Rise Above The Streets Youth Ambassador

Our  numerous school partnerships afford us the ability to offer after-school and summer programs to help at-risk youth make healthy life choices. This educational effort also helps them learn how they can serve the community and become powerful leaders within their community. We Rise Above The Streets Youth Ambassador’s mission is to help individuals overcome and/or remove the barriers that deter their pursuit of success. We facilitate opportunities for a better quality of life through improved health and wellness,  academic success, personal, social and economic growth, access to artistic excellence and cultural awareness, financial literacy, and building community agencies and institutions. Our summer program is for youth boys and girls between the ages of 14-19.

Self-Sufficiency Program

Our Self-Sufficiency Program offers education to help individuals learn new skills in order to become self-sufficient. These skills include basic skills, job training assistance, and facilitation with resources that are available to help them become employable in an ever changing world. Classes also include financial literacy and budgeting. The program offers a monthly three-week CareerWorks Boot Camp (CB3) designed to prepare individuals for viable jobs and independent living. This is followed by 12 months of career placement and/or vocational training assistance, case management, and continued job retention and mentoring support.


We Rise Above the Streets
Zemii Media and Publishing Group LLC, Shella Zelenz September 4, 2023
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