The Children's Aid Blog

From the Associates Council: Courage – Sponsorship and Raffles

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The Wizard of Oz is not only a quest for the Emerald City. It’s also a search for a brain for the Scarecrow, a heart for the Tin Man, and courage for the Cowardly Lion.

A whole lot of brains, heart, and courage have gone into planning the Associates Council’s Emerald City fundraiser on May 8, and as co-chair of the event committee, I’d like to recognize some standout members in a series of blog posts. In this first one, I’ll highlight some serious courage on the committee’s sponsorship and raffle teams. (Stayed tuned for the Brains and Heart posts in the next few weeks.)

It takes real guts to ask companies to support our event and our cause, and AC president Jenn Gallivan has delivered in a big way. Jenn brought in three of our four sponsors: Goldman Sachs, Scotiabank, and Trident Investment Management. Trident has been a sponsor every year since we started throwing this fundraiser in 2011, and Scotiabank and Goldman are both joining us for the second time. We are deeply grateful for their support, and very lucky to have Jenn as our president.

We'd also like to thank our fourth sponsor, Edelman, and its CEO Richard Edelman in particular.  Richard is also a CAS board member and the one who got me involved with CAS in the first place. I'm thrilled Edelman is contributing to Emerald City.  The spring committee is fortunate enough to include Ali Rotondo, an Account Supervisor at this leading public relations firm who has been instrumental coordinating the sponsorship. Sponsors are critical to the event’s success--without them, Emerald City would barely be possible--and their generosity translates directly into a positive impact on Go!Healthy.

Beyond sponsorship, I’d like to give a shout out to Maxi Adamski and Alexandra Cannon, who have pounded the sidewalks of New York to collect an incredible array of unique and enticing raffle prizes, from a golf outing to cooking lessons to private shopping parties. Maxi and Alexandra are managing the raffle for the second year in a row, and we are constantly impressed with their boldness in going after the best prizes out there. Moreover, the raffle has been a full team effort: several of the prizes have come in through members’ personal contacts, as well. To hear more details about the raffle prizes, follow the AC on Facebook.

And don’t be cowardly -- buy your Emerald City event ticket, or just your raffle tickets, now. Even if you can’t make the party, you could still win a prize.

- Giuliana Vetrano, Co-Chair, Spring Event Committee

Foster Care and Disconnected Youth: A Way Forward for New York

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On December 1, 2011, the Community Service Society of New York and The Children’s Aid Society convened over 200 local and national experts, policymakers, service providers and advocates to discuss the issues faced by older youth in foster care and strategies to prevent and address their disconnection from anchor social institutions like school, work and family. This report highlights and further develops the issues raised at the forum, recommends policy directions and discusses successful program models that address the many challenges facing aging-out youth who become disconnected.

For many young people, the transition from teen to independent adult is a gradual process that extends into their mid- to late 20s, with financial and emotional support from family. Most youth make it, but a significant number don’t—and so they become disconnected. Youth who age-out of foster care have the hardest time getting on their feet, and without family to rely on, the odds of success are against them.  But investments in the futures of these young people can result in significant benefits to them and to society.

To read more download the complete Foster Care and Disconnected Youth: A Way Forward for New York report.

Fannie Lou Holds Its First Student Opportunity Fair

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With the end of the school year approaching, students at Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School, a Children’s Aid community school, spent the day yesterday exploring exciting options for the summer. Ninth- through twelfth-graders attended the high school’s first student opportunity fair, where staff from various organizations and programs gathered to recruit applicants. Graduating seniors were able to chat with representatives about job and college scholarship opportunities, while ninth- through eleventh-graders checked out summer arts, education, college readiness and leadership programs.

The Children’s Aid Society had several tables at the fair. Our Summer Youth Employment Program coordinators helped high school students apply for various summer positions in nonprofit, government and private sectors, giving them a valuable head start in their careers. Students also spoke with Children’s Aid staff from Hope Leadership Academy, a program where students train to become community and peer leaders, and Teen Health Services, where students learned about our different support systems offered in the Bronx community.   

Third Annual Fitness Jamboree Hosted by The Associates Council

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Late last month, the Associates Council (AC) of The Children’s Aid Society hosted its third annual Fitness Jamboree at the Milbank Center. Nearly 80 children in grades 2 through 7, who are part of the Saturday “Study Now, Play Later” program, joined 20 members of the AC for a series of fun fitness workshops.

Throughout the morning and afternoon, AC members joined groups of kids as they rotated through hands-on workshops led by community and AC volunteers.  They were on hand to encourage the children’s participation, model good sportsmanship and serve as cheerleaders as some of the children engaged in activities that they have never done before. 

A total of eight workshops were offered: four in the morning shift and four in the afternoon.  They included basketball, Zumba, gymnastics, martial arts, soccer, fitness drills, step and aerobics.

“The Fitness Jamboree has become one of our most fun-filled and anticipated volunteer events of the year,” said Assistant Director of Volunteer Services Malia Poai, who organized the event. “We’re grateful that the Associates Council has taken ownership of this fun day and that they bring their A-game with them. It was clear that both the children and AC members alike had an invigorating and exciting day together.”

Members of the AC helped with event planning, securing items for goody bags (given to the kids after the event concluded), helping to arrange some of the facilitators for the workshops and donating fruit and water for the event’s lunch.  Other donations included t-shirts and healthy snacks. 

“We focus on enhancing the physical as well as the mental development and social interaction of our clients,” said Kelsey Stevens, Children’s Aid’s director of sports, recreation and fitness. “The excitement of the tumbling, the dance moves, the soccer, basketball drills, and martial arts really exemplified that physical activity is important for everyone and that it can be a lifelong pursuit!”

New Report: Developing a Social Impact Bond

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The Children's Aid Society recently announced the release of a new report, “Developing a Social Impact Bond: Lessons from a Provider.”

Social impact bonds are an innovative method to finance promising programs that tackle social problems while also saving the government money. With a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, Children's Aid began exploring how this innovative financing mechanism could be used to scale up some of its interventions for low-income children in New York City.

This paper outlines the steps Children's Aid followed and the lessons we learned in the process of developing several concepts for social impact bonds.

We hope that sharing our experience will help service providers and government agencies better plan and sustain their programs, through social impact bonds and other outcomes-based financing mechanisms. The result will be improved services for children and families in need, more effective government and healthier communities.

Read the report here.

From the Associates Council: “Emerald City” Announces Special Guest Tanya Steel, Editor-in-Chief of Epicurious.com

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With the countdown to “Emerald City” underway, we’re announcing programming details here first!

We’re thrilled to have Tanya Steel on board as our special guest. As editor-in-chief of Epicurious.com and Gourmet.com, and best-selling author of Real Food for Healthy Kids, Tanya has a philosophy for teaching children to cook (and love) ‘real’, healthy food that aligns perfectly with our mission.

What’s more, she recently worked with Michelle Obama to create a state dinner for kids at the White House. One lucky winner from each state—each of whom entered an original recipe into a national contest—earned a trip to DC to attend. We’ll have to help our Go!Healthy chefs create recipes for this year's contest, which is launching soon. Check here for details!

At our event, a few of our fifth grade chefs will participate in a cooking demonstration, creating an Epicurious bruschetta and crostini recipe and handing out samples along with Tanya! They can’t wait to meet our guests and show off what they’ve learned through our program. And we know this special feature will give guests a taste of just how far their scholarship donations really go.

Thanks to Stefania Patinella for helping to whip this up! And by the way, for more on Stefania and Epicurious, check out a recent feature on Kids in the Kitchen and interview with Stefania.

--Rebecca Steuer, Logistics Co-Chair, Spring Event Committee

From the Associates Council: Turn on the Technicolor

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Remember the moment when Dorothy wakes up after the tornado, opens the door and finds herself in Munchkinland? Imagine seeing all that color at a time when almost every movie was black and white, and televisions didn't even exist. The Wizard of Oz is a paradigm of the Technicolor era, and despite the common misconception that it was colorized decades later, the 1939 film was originally and intentionally shot in sepia (Kansas) and Technicolor (Oz).

You can bet our Emerald City event on May 8 will be fully colorized, and today we're excited to release our beautiful, multi-chromatic, multi-layered invitation. We on the Associates Council have Nathaniel Soria to thank for his dedicated, after-hours work on this glorious design. A professional designer, Nathaniel is a longtime member of the AC Executive Committee and the talent behind a lot of our marketing activities. And get this: he moved to New York from Kansas (City).

Haven't found your invitation in your inbox or mailbox yet? Email Malia Poai at maliap@childrensaidsociety.org to be added to our official mailing list, or just buy your ticket now at TheACstop.org.

Giuliana Vetrano, Co-chair, Spring Event Committee

Food Justice Students Embark on Community Projects

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The radical thinking middle-schoolers in our Food Justice Program have been working hard since the beginning of the school year--exploring topics such as hunger and food security, what it means to eat healthy and the impact our food choices have both personally and as a community. They have interviewed their neighbors, mapped the food options available in local bodegas and supermarkets, evaluated advertisements and used photo and video techniques to document this whole process. Now it’s time for the students to create a community project.

The project ideas we have seen so far reflect the unique creativity of these serious, funny and talented kids.  For example, the group at C.S. 211 in the Bronx has chosen to create a Diabetes Cookbook, and they have invited their teachers, parents and other community members to work on it with them. Each week, a “guest chef” comes to class, and together they cook their favorite healthy recipe. Dr. May May Leung, Assistant Professor at the CUNY School of Public Health, has also offered to provide a nutritional analysis for the recipes so that the final product can be an effective tool in the fight against diabetes.

The group at P.S. 50 in East Harlem has been using their artistic talents to create a promotional video for the Food Justice program involving rap, spoken-word and dance. They found an experienced lyricist and hip-hop artist who shares their passion for community health and has offered to donate his time and experience to help them make a hit music video. They have already begun to choreograph step-dances and write rhymes about their favorite healthy snacks!

Finally, the East Harlem Center group is collaborating with a prominent local artist to create a food justice mural in their community. Together they will co-create a work of art that demonstrates their shared vision of universal access to healthy food.
 
All of these projects, along with their photography/video documentation, will be showcased in the final event on June 12 at Hunter College from 5 – 7 p.m. Stay tuned as the details of the projects, and the event itself, continue to unfold. If you want to get involved with our Food Justice program, contact at Kaitlin Dougherty at kdougherty@childrensaidsociety.org.

Written by Kaitlin Dougherty

Campaign for Children Rallies Outside City Hall

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Hundreds of children, youth workers and government officials gathered this morning outside of City Hall, rallying against the proposed budget cuts to after-school and other OST (out-of-school time) programs. At the rally, which was led by the Campaign for Children, young people from a range of community organizations delivered heartfelt testimonies on how after-school programming has positively impacted their academic and personal growth. Children also performed jump rope routines, songs, drumming and dances, all activities they learned from the very programs that could be facing elimination.

City Council members Jackson, Levin, Brewer, Gennaro and others also voiced their strong opposition to the budget cut plans, and pledged to fight for New York City’s youth. City Council member Gale Brewer even remarked that after-school programming is so crucial to a child’s development that she considers it as important as school itself.

Please click here to browse through our photo gallery of today’s rally.

From the Associates Council: What’s in a Name?

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Last year’s second annual spring fundraiser was “A Gatsby Affair,” and the David Rubenstein Atrium transformed into the terrace of Jay Gatsby’s mansion. Some of our most enthusiastic guests dressed in flapper outfits and fashion of the Roaring Twenties, and everything from the raffle tiers to the cocktails fell in line with the theme.

When we sat down to choose this year’s theme, we thought about what made Gatsby such a good pick. A lot of us on the committee liked the idea of a literary reference, but we also wanted to tie the event back to children. After many rounds of discussion and fruitless attempts to recall the classic novels we read in high school, we landed on children’s literature as a long-term motif for the spring party. This of course meant reaching even further back into our English class memories, but we eventually came up with a list of favorite books.

Books are a very personal thing, so it was hard to agree on the best one. Plus, we wanted the story to have a festive quality (Oliver Twist just wouldn’t do). We decided to table the issue and revisit it at the next meeting.

But then, just a few days later, a few committee members read that Pantone had selected Emerald as the color of the year, and suggested that we turn the Wizard of Oz idea from our book brainstorm into an “Emerald City” theme.

This worked on so many levels. For one, the Wizard of Oz is a story virtually everyone knows, and the fact that it’s both a book and a movie makes for great marketing and creative around the event. Second, the David Rubenstein Atrium is decorated with a mixture of greenery and cityscapes. Third, the green-ness of the theme would align well with our beneficiary Go!Healthy’s mission of healthy eating. Overall, it was exactly the kind of whimsical, colorful, lively theme a party on a May evening demands.

The response to the “Emerald City” theme has been wonderful so far--but I can’t give away all the decorating plans just yet. I will say that Sephora has agreed to send makeup artists to the party to add a splash of emerald to our guests’ looks. And I just found the perfect emerald dress.

We hope you’ll join us--in theme or just in your Wednesday finest--on May 8. Buy tickets now at TheACStop.org.

--Giuliana Vetrano, Co-chair, Spring Event Committee