11.06.2012 18:00

Wildlife Conservation Society and Morgan Stanley Graduate First-Ever Class of "Future Leaders” from Innovative Program Providing Job Training and Opportunity for Underserved Youth at the Bronx Zoo

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Morgan Stanley will honor the first-ever graduates of the Future Leaders program – an innovative workforce development initiative organized for underserved teens and young adults at the Bronx Zoo that encourages academic success and improves prospects for college and permanent employment.

The graduation ceremony will be held at 5:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, June 12 in the Schiff Family Great Hall at the Bronx Zoo, the flagship of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s system of urban wildlife parks.

The Future Leaders program was launched by the Wildlife Conservation Society in partnership with Morgan Stanley, which has served as the sole funder for the first two years of the program, including its pilot phase and launch. The two-year program offers meaningful career options for young adults who have been identified as not on track to graduate high school or earn a General Educational Development (GED) certificate.

The program provides job-skills training to youth from some of New York City's most underserved communities. It draws on the decades of experience WCS has working with young adults as seasonal employees in its four zoos and aquarium. WCS employs more than 1,000 seasonal employees each year at its five facilities in New York City - Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and Queens Zoo. As the program readies to celebrate the graduation of its first-ever class, the Pinkerton Foundation has joined this week as an additional funder.

New York City's proportion of "disconnected" youth - young people who are neither in school nor working - is the highest in the country, according to the Community Service Society based in New York City. Failure to graduate from high school severely diminishes employability. Those young people without the skills to compete in the job market are at a higher risk of unemployment and thus a higher risk of becoming entangled in the criminal justice system. As employment experience can reduce high school dropout rates and increase college matriculation, the Future Leaders Program seeks to improve the lifetime earning potential of participants and stimulate the economic cycle in the community.

The Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo is located in the 16th Congressional District, where 49 percent of children are living below the poverty line. The zoo is one of the largest employers of youth in the Bronx, including more than 600 people between the ages of 16 and 24 working at the zoo on a seasonal basis each year.

"WCS takes its responsibility to the communities it serves very seriously,” said Steve Sanderson, WCS President and CEO. "The zoos and aquarium are one of the largest employers of youth in their communities. By teaching the basics of what employers are looking for in an employee, we are helping these young people take the first step to success and independence.”

The Future Leaders program seeks to help ensure disconnected youth are not overlooked. WCS and Morgan Stanley's vision for the program is to take a leadership role in promoting a stable community and a bright economic future for all young people.

Said Audrey Choi, Head of Global Sustainable Finance at Morgan Stanley: "Morgan Stanley is committed to stimulating job creation within our community. We are very excited to continue our partnership with WCS in support of the Future Leaders program. For young people looking for career options amid challenging economic times, the Bronx Zoo offers a chance to learn critical job skills and gain exposure to a wide range of professional opportunities.”

Participants in the current class of Future Leaders are putting their new skills to the test as they interview for seasonal positions at WCS's Bronx Zoo. These paid seasonal positions provide participants with wages and stipends, and the opportunity to network with WCS staff in all areas of the organization, building on the training they have already received in areas such as critical thinking, teamwork, leadership and job readiness. Future Leaders class members will explore careers in all areas of WCS's operations, including customer service, hospitality, sales, food service, office administration, facilities support, community service and conservation.

Community partners include FEGS Health and Human Services System, Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation, Grace Dodge Career & Technical High School, Good Shepherd Services, Wildcat Service Corporation, a division of Fedcap Rehabilitation Services and International YMCA.

About the Wildlife Conservation Society

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit www.wcs.org.

About Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) is a leading global financial services firm providing a wide range of investment banking, securities, investment management and wealth management services. The Firm's employees serve clients worldwide including corporations, governments, institutions and individuals from more than 1,300 offices in 43 countries. Since 2006, Morgan Stanley has executed more than $5 billion in loans and investments to strengthen underserved communities. For further information about Morgan Stanley, please visit www.morganstanley.com.

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