The Children's Aid Blog

Broadway for All Provides Thrilling Experience for Children's Aid Youth

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The night of August 6, 2012 was unforgettable for a group of middle and high school students from the Children’s Aid Society's Salomé Ureña Campus. These talented young people were part of the cast of of Live It!, a musical sponsored by Broadway for All, SDC, Harvard University Office of the President and the Children’s Aid Society.

Live It! is the brainchild of Osh Ghanimah. The production came together over the course of a four week camp involving students ages 10 to 18. The musical is about the hopes and hardships of youngsters who want to be in show business. It segues from personal monologues that cover a range of coming-of-age conflicts to reenactments of the day to day life-coping activities of struggling actors. In addition to original songs composed for the show, the diverse cast of characters perform numbers from classic Broadway musicals such as Hair Spray, Minnie’s Boys, Sweet Charity, A Chorus Line, Annie Get your Gun and Funny Girl.

Broadway for All is a summer program that, like the Children's Aid/AileyCamp, involves intensive study and life-altering experiences. It allows mentors (high school performing arts students) and mentees (middle school students) to enrich each other’s lives across cultural and economic boundaries. Broadway for All has a strong reading and writing component - “You can’t be a proficient actor if you are not a proficient reader-writer,” says director Osh Ghanima - and students get to see Broadway shows and interact with professional actors, musicians and designers. In short, they are exposed to key tools of the trade.

The involvement of Children's Aid in Broadway for All can be deemed a great success. Speaking to this point following the show on August 6, Migdalia Cortes Torres, Director of the Salomé Ureña Campus said, “If you stare at the door that is closing for too long, you may miss the ones that are opening. Therefore, in spite of the financial and logistical constraints, we chose to do the program. The results tonight speak for themselves. I’m very glad we took this risk.”

Block Party Brings Children's Aid College Prep Community Together

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With the first day of school just around the corner, students at our new Children’s Aid College Prep Charter School enjoyed music, food and entertainment at a school-sponsored block party on Thursday, July 26. The event was held in the school playground and provided an important opportunity for incoming kindergarten and first grade students to meet their classmates.

A fun and uplifting tone was set by a DJ playing energetic music. Meanwhile, Children’s Aid Society President & CEO Richard Buery and charter school faculty mingled with parents, family members and friends. Entertainment included face painting, exploring the playground, balloon art and a magic show! Students snacked on cotton candy and popcorn and a great time was had by all.

Click here to view more block party photos.

Michael Roberts Receives Patricia McGuirk Award

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The Children’s Aid Society is proud to announce that Michael Roberts, Associate Division Director for City and Country Branches, is the recipient of the 2012 Patricia McGuirk Achievement in Education Enrichment and Youth Development Award. Roberts was honored at the 4th Annual Patricia McGuirk Scholarship Fund Award and Academic Recognition Dinner, which took place on June 12th in Brooklyn. The award recognizes Roberts' important role in establishing a support program that has served more than 500 students and their families currently residing in temporary housing and shelters. The program is responsible for significantly improving its members’ academic performance and quality of life, and this promising model continues to be replicated in Manhattan and The Bronx. Roberts received further praise for his ability to share and communicate best practices to New York City Department of Education staff.

The New York City Department of Education and The Fund for Public Schools have generously financed The Patricia McGuirk Scholarship Fund over the past seven years. The Fund’s mission is to provide scholarships to college-bound graduating seniors who live in temporary housing in New York City. These students have triumphed over adversity as evidenced by their outstanding academic achievements. This special annual dinner celebrates 100 of these students and highlights two keynote high school seniors, both of whom receive a $10,000 scholarship. In addition, the dinner features several awards given to educators and youth workers.  

Congratulations to Michael Roberts! Children’s Aid and the children of New York City truly value his passion, dedication, and commitment to excellence. We also thank the Patricia McGuirk Scholarship Fund for recognizing his achievements.

Gotham Schools Article Brings Charter School Vision to Life

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Rachel Cromidas, a reporter for Gotham Schools, joined Richard Buery and other Children's Aid officials on a tour of the space currently being renovated for the Children's Aid College Prep Charter School in the South Bronx. Ife Lenard, the school's founding Principal and Alex Jerez, Director of Operations, were on hand to lead the group through a mental journey of what the gutted third floor classrooms will look like when they welcome 130 kindergarten and 1st grade students in late August.

Read the full article here.

Chancellor Walcott Visits AileyCamp Washington Heights

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Students of the Children’s Aid Society Alvin Ailey Summer Camp in Washington Heights received an enthusiastic visitor today. Dennis M. Walcott, Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education dropped by to observe and take part in the dynamic classes offered at this unique summer camp in the Mirabal Sisters Campus, a Children’s Aid Community School. Nasha Thomas-Schmitt, National Director of AileyCamp, along with Richard Buery, President and CEO and William Weisberg, COO, both of The Children’s Aid Society gave the Chancellor a behind-the-scenes tour. Mr. Walcott energetically joined in during the ballet lesson and percussion workshop and read out the daily affirmations with all campers and staff. He commended the students for their love of artistic expression and shared that he has always wanted to learn ballet.

Each summer, AileyCamp Washington Heights, one of 10 camps nationwide, offers a variety of dance classes and developmental workshops that helps over 100 deserving inner-city youth develop positive self-esteem, problem solving skills, and healthy self-expression.  Students memorize daily affirmations, such as “I will not use the word ‘can’t’ to define my possibilities,” to serve as a guide to becoming productive and motivated individuals.

Volunteers Give Much-Needed Face Lift to Harlem Center

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Written By: Volunteer Services

Despite the harsh summer heat, nearly two dozen volunteers from New York Life came out to Harlem on June 20th to beautify space at the Children’s Aid Society’s Frederick Douglass Center. Equipped with bright paint, artistic skill and an energetic mood, their efforts produced an uplifting mural in the center’s playground. Children’s Aid youth, parents and community members can view the mural as a beautiful reminder to always reach for the stars.

Designed by Children’s Aid Associates Council member Nathaniel Soria, the mural touches on themes of community, education and mentoring. New York Life is a long-time supporter of The Children’s Aid Society and their services are greatly appreciated.

See the mural come to life in this video montage:

Video by Nathaniel Soria

Additional Photos by Jc Zeal

Children's Aid Continues Efforts to Expand Community School Model Under New Pilot Program

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Last week, the Union Federation of Teachers (UFT), City Council and Partnership for NYC announced a new pilot program aimed at bringing health care and social services to six New York City schools. The Children's Aid Society will act as one of the service providers in partnership with Curtis High School in Staten Island. At a press conference attended by UFT President Michael Mulgrew, Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Partnership for NYC President and CEO Kathy Wylde and Children’s Aid President and CEO Richard Buery and teachers and principals representing the six designated schools, the program's financial and structural details were outlined. The participating schools will receive $600,000 in grants provided by The Partnership for New York City, the New York City Council and UFT. Each school will have the ability to tailor its program, selecting those services most needed by students and the surrounding community.

This pilot program is based on a partnership in Cincinnati that similarly drew funding from various sources to provide a range of health care and educational services in city schools. The Children's Aid Society provided guidance and technical assistance to schools in the Cincinnati program, offering knowledge and resources drawn from our own community schools model. For twenty years, Children's Aid has been a leader in expanding school services and supports. Beginning with the Salomé Ureña Middle Academies, which opened in 1992, Children's Aid has partnered with the New York City Department of Education in more than twenty community schools in the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island. Open well into the evening, six days a week, year-round, these programs transform schools into community centers. The expanded learning opportunities along with health care services are critical to removing barriers to learning and ensuring each child thrives academically and socially. In 1994, The Children's Aid Society created the National Center for Community Schools. The center training and consultation regarding implementation of the community schools model. Additionally, the center is a leader in advocating for the model locally, nationally and internationally.

Children’s Aid Honors Students on Track to Success

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On June 15, The Children's Aid Society community gathered in the Con Ed auditorium to congratulate the graduates of the Educational eXcellence Creating Empowered Leaders (E.X.C.E.L.) college preparatory program. Honoring more than 60 high school students and 25 college graduates, the ceremony featured speeches by former New York City Mayor David Dinkins and City Councilman Robert Jackson, both of whom emphasized the power of higher education to lift children out of poverty. "Don't let yourself be distracted by all the challenges and temptations in life," said Councilman Jackson. "Stay the course."

Florence Wen echoed this sentiment during her acceptance of The William H. Dinkins, Jr. Scholarship. She recently graduated from Syracuse University with a dual major in Biology and Public Relations, but admitted to her fellow graduates that it wasn't always easy stay on track. "You have to stay focused," advised Wen, who is going on to pursue her Ph.D. Conservation Biology.

Two of the evening’s graduates, Dominique Giordano and Corey Scott, served as spirited co-hosts, introducing special guests one by one as nearly a dozen scholarships were awarded. One such award, The Audrey Miller Poritzky Scholarship, is given each year to select students who display attributes of leadership, community service and excellence in education. David Poritzky spoke candidly about his wife's belief in the importance of education, and with his daughter Sophie beside him on stage, praised this year's recipients for honoring Audrey's memory with their commitment to success.

Children's Aid President and CEO Richard R. Buery also offered his congratulations and praise--not just to the students, but also to their parents and caregivers. "Being a parent is the hardest job of all. That these young people are standing here tonight is a testament to all of your hard work. Your support has made the difference."

The ceremony concluded with the traditional roll call of graduates, giving each student a long-awaited moment of recognition and each family a moment of pride. The Children's Aid Society's E.X.C.E.L. program is a comprehensive educational and life skills program designed to engage students, ages 14-21, in a breadth of services geared toward preparing them for college and promoting their future success. We wish all of this year's graduates the best of luck in their future endeavors!

Click here to view the entire photogallery.

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CAS-Carrera Celebrates 26th Annual Parent Graduation

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On Friday, June 1st, The Children's Aid Society’s Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program (CAS-Carrera) held its 26th graduation ceremony for the Parent Family Life & Sexuality Education program (PFLSE) at Hunter College. PFLSE is a multi-week workshop that encourages New York City parents to be their children’s primary source of sexuality information. Led by bilingual CAS-Carrera Sexuality Educators with peer support from promotores (trained community educators), PFLSE provides parents knowledge and strategic approaches to become more actively involved in their children’s development. Since 1986, more than 3,000 parents and guardians have participated in this no-cost community program, which fosters intergenerational learning and family discussion on this essential issue.

Dr. Michael A. Carrera, who launched CAS-Carrera in 1984, urged the audience of 120 graduates, family, and members of the Children’s Aid Society community to “remember to express our sexuality with joy, dignity and positive feelings for ourselves and others.” He reminded parents and guardians that they have no choice but to be “the primary sexuality educators of your own children…Your only choice is how well or poorly you deliver on that obligation.”

Indeed, the research backs this up. In a recent nation-wide survey, teens say parents most influence their decisions about sex and 87% say it would be much easier for them to postpone sex and avoid teen pregnancy if they were able to have more open, honest conversations about these topics with their parents.

Every year, PFLSE Class Valedictorians are chosen to share what they had learned with the audience. Rosalinda Alvira, mother of two sons enrolled in the CAS-Carrera program at the Bronx Preparatory Charter School, observed that “our responsibility as parents is to teach them responsibility in everything they do. Accept and love them just as they are and to accept themselves without fear.” Likewise, Genaro Muñoz, a father of a student at The Children’s Aid Society Community School at P.S./I.S 50, The Vito Marcantonio School, took pride in knowing that he learned “how to be an educator as a parent for my kids and our community.”

We congratulate our graduating parents and their families who will benefit greatly from improving their literacy of one of life’s most important and overlooked subjects.

Richard Buery on the Huffington Post: Let Education Reform Blossom in New York

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Just weeks after President Obama awarded New York State a reform-friendly waiver to onerous federal "No Child Left Behind" education rules, for-profit education firms are threatening to strangle the new reforms in the crib.

At issue is the federal Supplemental Education Services (SES) program, which currently diverts hundreds of millions of federal Title 1 dollars from school districts to outside tutoring providers. A few of these outside groups do good work. But multiple reports and investigations of the SES program have shown bloated budgets, profiteering and corruption. An evaluation of the implementation of SES revealed that providers were providing, on average, only 45 hours of services to these high-need students. And national evaluations sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute for Education Sciences, most recently by the leading educational evaluation firm Mathematica Policy Research, have found that SES has little to no impact on raising student achievement. Current SES programs are often poorly coordinated with school-day instruction, and success is often driven more by marketing budgets than impact on students. New York can put these funds to better use.