The Children's Aid Blog

Go!Healthy Hosts 7th Annual Iron Go!Chefs Cooking Competition

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Approximately 150 budding elementary, middle, and high school chefs sliced and diced their way to glory during this year’s Children’s Aid Iron Go!Chefs competition. Held at the Frederick Douglas Center in Harlem, the event served as the culminating experience for students who spent the school year in the Children’s Aid’s Go!Chefs after-school hands-on cooking and nutrition program.

This year each team, supported by Children’s Aid nutritionists, prepared a dish inspired by books like “Anne of Green Gables,” “The Lorax,” “Like Water for Chocolate,” and “The House on Mango Street.” In the end, the East Harlem Jalapenos from the elementary school round and the Fannie Lou Growling Panthers from the middle school and high school round both took home the coveted prize for “Best All-Around Iron Go!Chefs.” Guest judges included Phoebe Boyer, president and CEO of Children’s Aid; Miriam Martinez, chief program officer; Morgan Ames, policy advisor for Food Policy in the Office of the Mayor; and Chef Ben Liquet, owner of the cookie company “Contains Nuts.”

Go!Chefs operates in 15 Children’s Aid community centers and schools, serving 1,500 children each year. Our cooking classes teach kids as young as 6 years old basic kitchen skills and introduces them to the joy of eating and cooking with fresh fruits and vegetables. By preparing and enjoying nutritious and delicious food early on, children are provided the tools to make healthy choices that will serve them throughout adulthood.

Congratulations to all our young chefs for raising the bar for the competition yet again.

Click here, to view our Iron Go!Chefs photo gallery.

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A Community School’s Impact on a Mother and Her Family

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Lencis Andujar, currently the office manager at the Salomé Ureña de Henriquez Campus, has worked at few different schools for Children’s Aid over the last 17 years. However, her relationship with Children’s Aid community schools began even before that, at P.S. 5, which opened in the Washington Heights neighborhood in 1993.

Lencis has four sons, and when her second, Jeffrie, started the Early Childhood program at P.S. 5, in 1994, she found herself taking advantage of the opportunities provided by the community school. “While he was at school, I took the opportunity to go to college, first to learn the language, because I didn’t know any English,” she said. ”None at all.”

She also volunteered with the school’s family program. “You get the chance to give back, to go to school, to do things that are hard to do when you have kids,” she said. “You don’t have to worry about doctor’s appointments for instance… at P.S. 5 we had—and still have—a full-service school-based health clinic, and many other supports.” It was clear to her that the community schools model best supported her family.

“What’s important is we work with both the family and the kids, not just the kids. The parents can learn skills that help them earn a living, and they also learn to understand and help their children,” she said.

That was true for Lencis and her family. All four of her sons have been a part of Children’s Aid community schools from cradle-to-college, which was integral to their success according to Lencis. And she has recently graduated from Boricua College with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

“Throughout these years, I’ve seen how many other families have been positively impacted by Children’s Aid, like mine has.”

City Harvest Supports Families in Washington Heights

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Proposed federal cuts to food assistance programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) would expand and intensify food insecurity for many New Yorkers, especially working families with children. It makes our nutrition work to ensure that children, youth, and their families have access to fresh, quality food and healthy choices all the more important. City Harvest, a partner in nutrition, is helping us rise to the challenge.

Our Early Childhood program at P.S. 5 recently received a $5,000 grant from the New York City Council’s School Food Pantry Initiative, which allowed the school to purchase food through City Harvest from Driscoll Foods to support over 30 families with children in our services. In addition to taking home fresh produce, whole wheat pasta, and low-sodium Adobo, parents also participated in one of our Go!Healthy nutrition workshops, where they learned a new recipe to try at home with their families. 

We are grateful to have the support of the City Council, Driscoll Foods, and City Harvest as we continue our nutrition work in schools to support children and families.

The Golf Classic Funds a Lifetime of Success

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The Children’s Aid’s 18th Annual Golf Classic was indeed a classic, with nearly 100 golfers teeing off on May 15 at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, NJ, all in the name of making sure young people and their families can realize their potential.

After a challenging round of golf on one of the nation’s most esteemed courses—host of the 2016 PGA Championship—the players (among them former New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick) convened in the clubhouse’s Terrace Room for a cocktail reception, awards ceremony, and live auction. Children’s Aid President and CEO Phoebe Boyer thanked the golfers for their commitment and shared how the Golf Classic raises critical funds to help advance our mission. Phoebe then introduced Christa Hill, one of the beneficiaries of last year’s Golf Classic scholarships, who is just finishing her first year of college. Christa is a true Children’s Aid success story, and her message of thanks helped relay the impact that a day of golf can have on the life of a young person.                                                            

Next, Bruce Beck, 20-year lead sports anchor for WNBC-TV and eight-time New York Emmy award winner returned once again this year to serve as our auctioneer and help raise even more funds for the Children’s Aid Path to College Success scholarship program.

This year the Golf Classic raised an impressive $242,000—funds that will bolster Children’s Aid’s vision for the youth we serve, helping to set them on the path to a lifetime of success. This year’s event was made possible by the incredible support of Accenture, our Founding Sponsor, and countless other generous companies and individuals who have supported this nearly two decades-old event. A special shout out goes to Aston Martin, our Shootout Sponsor, BMW of Springfield, our Hole-in-One Sponsor, and Navnit Patel, our volunteer photographer. And finally, Children’s Aid extends its deepest thanks to the dedication of our Golf Classic Host Committee, which is co-chaired by Jon Harrington and Mark Allen, and also counts Scott Alfieri, Chris Brady, Clint Factor, Brad Gruby, Russel Hamilton, Pat Housen, and Susan Pikitch among its members.

And finally, a hearty congratulations to our contest and tournament winners, as follows:

  • Closest to the Pin Hole #4 Winner: Brian Madden
  • Closest to the Pin Hole #9 Winner: John McHugh
  • Closest to the Pin Hole #12 Winner: Mike Roscigno
  • Closest to the Pin Hole #16 Winner: Ted Bourke
  • 4th Place Net Winners: Scott Alfieri, Kyle Malady, Miguel Myhrer, Joe Russo
  • 3rd Place Net Winners: Mark Allen, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Rich Miller, Rich Hummers
  • 2nd Place Net Winners: Arjun Bedi, Jazz Toboccowalla, Henrik Vestergard, Ben Rhee
  • 1st Place Net Winners: Joe McMahon, Andy Drecshler, Joe Lacava, Chris Cavanaugh
  • 1st Place Gross Winners: John Crowles, Jim Bradbeer, Mike Brown, Matt Saker

Thank you once again to all of our supporters this year. None of this would be possible without you. We can’t wait to see you next year!


Pfizer: Supporting Youth Success

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Developing innovative medicines and vaccines that improve people’s quality of life is a serious business, and as one of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies, Pfizer approaches its work with the precision such business warrants. But Pfizer isn’t just serious about medicine; the company is heavily invested in its corporate social responsibility. And, employee volunteerism is one of the most effective outlets for that responsibility.

For years, Children’s Aid and the young people we serve in New York City have benefited from the tremendous commitment and generous contributions of Pfizer employees. Most recently, on May 23, a passionate team of Pfizer volunteers, organized by Pfizer’s senior manager for U.S. Regulatory Policy and Global Intelligence, Eric Hsu, hosted a fun, engaging career exploration workshop for a group of Children’s Aid teens.

The event featured a career panel consisting of Pfizer employees from a range of different affinity groups: Pfizer Latino College Resource Group, Pfizer African American Network, Out Pfizer Employee Network, and Pfizer Global Asian Alliance. Our young people were able to connect with the panelists, many of whom represented similar backgrounds, while they learned about a wide array of career fields at Pfizer: from engineering to consumer research to finance.  The panelists also opened our young people’s eyes to the varying pathways to those roles, articulating that careers take twists and turns, and it’s essential to take advantage of every opportunity that arises. The event ended with an engaging game that quickly showed our young people how new medicines are developed and subsequently taken to market. Our young people left with a deeper understanding of a sector and important tips on becoming a stronger, more marketable professional.

Children’s Aid remains deeply grateful to Pfizer for its commitment to volunteerism. As a result of Pfizer’s encouraging, acknowledging, and celebrating the deep impact of its employee’s contributions, our young people are better able to realize their full potential as they learn from strong role models, explore sectors and professional pathways, and network. On behalf of the children and youth we serve, we thank Pfizer and its exemplary volunteers.


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More than 10 years ago, Children’s Aid agreed to a plan with New York City to sell 38 of the original 42 acres of the Goodhue estate. It would—and still will be—a win-win for the Staten Island community. The people will get parkland that would be preserved forever and a brand-new Goodhue Center.

At no time did we expect the process to take 10 years. We had hoped that the coming fiscal year would finally bring funding for purchase of the final parcel. And we still hope that’s true. That’s why we brought out more than 200 people to Goodhue Center this week.

Goodhue kids young and old, parents, neighbors, staff members, and key elected officials who have always been friends of Goodhue. With their sheer numbers, they showed how important this parkland is. They signed petitions and posted on social media, asking Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city asking Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city to fulfill its commitment to the people of Staten Island.

Borough President James Oddo has been a proponent of the project since the beginning, and said, “Children’s Aid has made a commitment to put this money into building a community center which will help kids on the North Shore, how can we wait another day?” He committed $6 million of the money he has at his disposal to help finance the sale.

His enthusiasm and energy is matched by City Council Member Debi Rose, who called Goodhue part of the “fabric of West Brighton.”

It was a great evening, and real show of what Staten Island is made of. We hope to see positive results in the coming weeks.


Children’s Aid and JPMorgan Chase Create Opportunities for Success

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We are deeply grateful to JPMorgan Chase for its steadfast partnership, which has supported the skill development of our young people and the revitalization of our communities for over four decades, and are pleased to present some recent highlights:

For nearly 20 years, JPMorgan Chase and Children’s Aid have collaborated to offer ProjectLIVE, a program focused on career development and corporate mentoring. The program matches Children’s Aid high school teens with JPMorgan Chase employees. Over five months, students work with two mentors and participate in engaging weekly activities and workshops that give them the inside track into what it takes to succeed in a career. Teens learn critical professional skills and financial literacy, while gaining a better understanding of the financial market, how to enter that market, and their future possibilities.

Children’s Aid has also had the incredible opportunity to participate in Force for Good, a program of JPMorgan Chase’s Technology for Social Good Initiative. Force for Good matches JPMorgan Chase employees with nonprofit organizations, like Children’s Aid, to help them develop a solution to an identified technological challenge. Given that many of the young people we serve lack access to computers at home, Children’s Aid needed to make college information and resources more readily available to our young people. As a result, Children’s Aid is developing a college awareness and preparation app that is compatible with smartphones. We’re thrilled to launch it this fall.

Bringing Children’s Aid and Phipps Neighborhoods together, two social service organizations committed to working in the South Bronx, JPMorgan Chase provided us with the essential seed funding to launch and lead South Bronx Rising Together (SBRT). The collective impact initiative engages community stakeholders to advance the healthy, successful development of children in the South Bronx from birth through adulthood.

We are proud of the progress we have made together to advance our vision for creating a greater, more equitable New York City in which children and youth are afforded every opportunity to realize their full  potential. On behalf of the young people we serve, we thank JPMorgan Chase and its committed, talented, compassionate employees for their support and service.

East Harlem Keystone Club Hosts “We the Teens”

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Last week, the East Harlem Keystone Club hosted a community forum for the youth in their community to have meaningful conversation with police officers from their local precinct. The event was part of the Boys & Girls Club of America’s National Keystone Project—Conversations with Law Enforcement.

Teens in the after-school leadership club found that one of the root causes of friction between youth and law enforcement in their community is a lack of communication. The club members organized “We the Teens,” guided by the idea that by taking the time to learn about each other, listening to each other, and having some fun together, youth and law enforcement can mend community relations.

Sixty teenagers and officers from the 23rd Precinct attended the forum. Manhattan Deputy Borough President Aldrin Bonilla also spoke to the group about how important it was for both teens and cops to recognize each other as valuable members of the East Harlem community. In addition to the discussion, the club also screened a short video that chronicles their take on the preamble of the Constitution and facilitated an interactive t-shirt project. And like most Friday evenings at the East Harlem center, the evening ended with a friendly game of volleyball on the center’s court between teens from their schools, the Children’s Aid Deaf and Hard of Hearing program, the JAM Peers, and the police officers in attendance.

This isn’t the first time the East Harlem Keystone Club has facilitated a project of this size. Also under the supervision of the center’s arts and leadership coordinator, Midge Caparosa, the group of teens organized a #KnowYourRightsNYC forum in 2015 to educate peers in their community about their civic rights. The project secured a Boys & Girls Club $24,000 Million Members Million Hours grant to extend their community service efforts in their East Harlem community. And they have continued on that trajectory, showing how powerful it can be to have teens lead the way.

Watch their video “We the Teens.” 

Teens Educate Peers on Sex Health

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Our adolescent health services take into account that sometimes teens have a lot of questions that they don’t always feel comfortable asking adults. To close the knowledge and comfort gap, we develop and deploy an entire team of teenaged health experts. Our Just Ask Me (JAM) Peer Educators, based at the Children’s Aid Bronx Health services, have taken it upon themselves to tackle some important conversations for youth their ages: defining healthy relationships, getting tested for sexually transmitted infections, and preventing teenage pregnancy.

Last week, the JAM Peers teamed up with the Keystone Club at the Children’s Aid East Harlem Center to host their annual teen pregnancy prevention event. Together the groups facilitated meaningful discussions around teen pregnancy and educated over seventy of their peers on safe sex practices and the importance of abstinence. We applaud the JAM Peers and the Keystone Club for organizing such a successful event and, most importantly, for helping other teens feel comfortable asking questions that keep them informed and healthy.

Spring Awakens in the Bronx

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Last week a few young gardeners in our Early Childhood programs at C.S. 61 celebrated the arrival of spring by getting their hands dirty. Each toddler planted some nutritious greens in their school garden as part of the Go!Healthy program’s health and nutrition education that fosters a love of healthy eating in children as early as preschool.

In addition to planting in the garden, the day of programming also included a reading of Anna McQuinn’s “Lola Plants a Garden,” garden yoga exercises, and face painting fun. Each student also created their own garden crowns, adorned with colorful fruits and vegetables. Parents also enjoyed a healthy snack prepared by a Go!Healthy nutritionist, and attended an Eat Smart New York cooking class. Thanks to our Go!Healthy and C.S. 61 teams for providing our families with great seasonal fun.