Innovation Through the Years

We’re proud to share our long history of developing innovative, targeted programs and services that help New Yorkers become economically secure and engaged members of their communities. CAMBA is an incubator for programs that have helped over one million New Yorkers improve their lives through education and workforce development, college access, health and wellness, temporary shelters and permanent affordable housing, youth development programs, legal services and much more. From our earliest days in Central Brooklyn to our current roster of more than 180 programs in over 100 locations across the five boroughs, we work to keep communities strong so that all New Yorkers thrive.

1977: CAMBA is founded in Flatbush to meet neighborhood needs, including reducing crime, improving trash collection, and beautification projects.

1982: Joanne M. Oplustil takes the reins as Executive Director of CAMBA with the knowledge that merchant success is tied to helping the large number of immigrants in Flatbush learn English, acquire jobs, and begin supporting local businesses.

1983: CAMBA begins providing free English classes and immigrant and refugee services.

1988: CAMBA’s first dropout prevention program begins at Tilden High School in East Flatbush, helping low-income teens graduate high school and continue their education.

1988: CAMBA offers free summer camp for homeless children living at Seagate by the Sea – featuring visiting artists-in – residence, academic enrichment, cultural events and trips.

1989: CAMBA Begins offering HIV/AIDS services, an early response to a growing crisis.

1993: CAMBA’s first Beacon Community Center opens at P.S, 269, engaging youth, parents, teachers, and religious leaders and bringing stability and opportunity to the area.

1993: CAMBA Legal Services is incorporated as the legal services arm of the agency. It is one of the first providers of legal services to the working poor in New York City.

1994: CAMBA becomes the first human services agency to proactively train all staff in safe sex and universal precautions, and educate newly arriving refugees on HIV prevention

1995: CAMBA becomes an early adopter of performance-based public contracting and embraces tracking/reporting changes

1996: CAMBA establishes the first and only free security guard training academy exclusively for women with a focus on immigrant women, and becomes the first NYC community-based organization to offer a free licensed security guard training academy.

1996: CAMBA opens the Park Slope Women’s Shelter when NYC begins outsourcing homeless services, helping residents manage their mental health in order to make a successful move to permanent housing.

1999: The Afterschool Corporation was founded in 1998 and in 1999 CAMBA was amongst the first round of grantees for quality after-school programming.

2001: CAMBA becomes one of only two U.S. agencies who agree to resettle HIV+ refugees.

2004: NYC launches HomeBase to prevent homelessness. CAMBA is one of the first agencies to pilot the program.

By the early 2000s, CAMBA knew that housing insecurity would continue to increase due to population growth and gentrification. Homelessness was increasing and low-income families were struggling to stay in their homes.

2005: CAMBA establishes nonprofit affiliate CAMBA Housing Ventures (CHV) to develop innovative solutions for more affordable housing in NYC via public-private funding.

2007: CAMBA’s first chronically homeless family moves into permanent supportive housing at 880 Willoughby. This mixed-use building includes ground floor retail, and helps spur redevelopment in Bushwick.

2012: CAMBA launches ‘Mobilize Your Business’ program for low-income and immigrant entrepreneurs as well as the first publicly funded initiative in the U.S. to train and ‘rightmatch’ highly skilled immigrant professionals to gateway jobs in their professions.

2013: First replicable national model for building affordable housing on underutilized hospital property, thereby providing on-site health care access (CAMBA Gardens I is built on the campus of Kings County Hospital).

2014: CAMBA HomeBase’s first mobile unit a.k.a. the ”You Can Van” reaches families most at risk of homelessness and consistently keeps over 90% out of the shelter system.

2015: CAMBA becomes one of the first providers in NYC to offer specialized after-school programming (SONYC) to children living in shelters, and the first to bring the SafeCare evidence-based model for foster care prevention to shelters

2015: BIVO (Brownsville In, Violence Out) pilot program begins. After one year, the highest conflict areas in the 73rd Precinct saw a 57% decrease in shootings.

2015: CAMBA’s Projet ALY promotes family and community acceptance of LGBTQ+ youth.

2016: CAMBA Opens six new Cornerstone Community Centers, located in NYCHA facilities.

2016: CAMBA becomes the first provider to create and offer small business development trainings tailored to Worker Co-ops in NYC.

2016: CAMBA is selected for the highly competitive Connections to Care (C2C) initiative to provide clinical mental health services for pregnant women and parents of children aged 0-4 at The Landing Family Shelter in Queens.

2017: CAMBA opens the first supportive and affordable housing built on surplus NYCHA property (Van Dyke Housing).

2018: CAMBA Legal Services, Legal Aid Society, and Fordham Law School issue a groundbreaking report on the impact of financial abuse on domestic violence survivors.

2018: President & CEO Joanne M. Oplustil is named to 2018 list of the most influential people in the nonprofit sector.

2019: CAMBA Gardens Phase II receives the 2018 Outstanding Affordable Housing Development award by the U.S. Green Building Council.

2020: CAMBA responds to COVID-19, meeting a 400% increase in demand at its food pantry, outfitting its family shelters with necessary tech for remote learning, and making sure clients have clean facilities, face masks, and minimal disruptions to critical services.

2021: United Health Foundation launches a three-year, $3 million partnership with CAMBA to help improve access to prenatal care, reduce maternal and infant morbidity rates, and improve health outcomes for underserved and homeless women in Brooklyn.

2022: CAMBA launches Brooklyn Drive Down Diabetes (B3D) to provide education and prevention services to Brooklyn communities of color disproportionately impacted by Type 2 Diabetes, creating lasting changes for pre-diabetic and diabetic clients.

2023: CAMBA College Bound continues expansion, providing college access services to 664 students in the 2022-2023 academic year. 100% of the 151 high school seniors in the program graduate on time and are collectively awarded almost $1M in scholarships.

We look forward to your help and support in advancing the mission of CAMBA and the clients we serve!