Launch Center: Where the Path to Economic Success Starts

June 19, 2024 11:38 am

The Launch Center is on a mission to assist individuals in launching their careers, businesses, and lives. Many people don’t know where to start when they find themselves in need of assistance, searching for a job, or setting goals to obtain a career. That’s where Interfaith Neighbors’ (IFN) Launch Center steps in. With a newly expanded space, the Launch Center is home to a Help Desk, community classroom, conference room, and meeting and office spaces. The Launch Center offers an array of services to individuals from the Monmouth County community, meeting them wherever they are on their journey to economic success.

The Help Desk is the starting point for most people visiting the Launch Center, whether they are seeking help accessing government services, such as SNAP benefits, Social Security or Veterans Assistance, or with connections to other agencies or Interfaith Neighbors programs. They may simply need to use a computer to fill out a job application or search for open positions in the area. Staff at the Help Desk can steer visitors in the right direction, which is often Launch Center life coaching, capacity building, business coaching, or the intensive career preparation course, SOAR.

SOAR is a ‘barrier-busting’ workforce training program that involves success skills training, certification program scholarships, and two years of success coaching. The combination of eliminating barriers, such as transportation and childcare costs, life coaching, and scholarships into fast-track professional certification programs ensures SOAR Colleagues’ success upon graduation. Popular career pathways include Business Office Support Specialists (BOSS), Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), Computer Service Technician, Automotive Technician, and Solar Installation with Commercial Roofing Certificate. The Launch Center maintains relationships with local employers in these fields that know and value SOAR training.

The Launch Center also offers the Young Masterminds program, which is like SOAR, but designed specifically for high school students. Young Masterminds helps prepare high schoolers for their transition after graduation. Now operating at Asbury Park, Neptune, and Academy Charter High Schools, this program helps numerous students learn more about themselves, their strengths, and how to utilize them to reach their potential once they graduate and pursue further education or enter the professional world.

Young Masterminds Kingston Pinnock (l) and Daaron Lynch (r), both freshman at Neptune High School with Semaj Vanzant, Launch Center Director of Relationship Management, who leads the program.

Capacity building coaching of small business owners and newly formed non-profits, and individual life coaching are Launch Center programs growing in demand. Staff members and Certified Life Coaches, Gillian Edgar and Semaj Vanzant, assist life coaching participants in defining goals and taking tangible steps to accomplish them. Business coaching aids local entrepreneurs in developing business plans or stabilizing and growing their business. Nonprofit organizations and community groups are also assisted through capacity building, working with Launch Center staff to develop fundraising tools, operating budgets, strategic plans, and event planning. The Prosper Foundation, a blossoming non-profit organization in Asbury Park focused on mental health services for youth, and the Cazzeek Brothers, an Asbury Park and Neptune non-profit organization facilitating youth mentoring and sports programs, are two of the Launch Center’s current capacity building clients. Through work with Launch Center staff, these non-profit organizations have been able to expand their work, increase their philanthropic revenue, and make lasting connections within the community.


Launch Center by the Numbers: 2023

250 Individuals Assisted at the Help Desk

300 Workshop Participants

20 SOAR Graduates

50 Life Coaching, Small Business Counseling and Non-Profit Capacity Building Clients

30 Young Masterminds Students

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