Close to 500 mothers, fathers and grandparents from the Washington Heights and Harlem community schools received certificates of completion from the Ercilia Pepin Parent Leadership Institute (EPPLI) on Saturday, June 9--the biggest number in EPPLI’s history.
New York State Senator Adriano Espaillat (running for US Congress), NY Assemblyman Herman Farrell, NY Councilmember Yidanis Rodriguez, NY Councilmember Robert Jackson, and Manhattan Borough President, Scott Stringer (potential candidate for NYC mayor) attended the event. Richard Buery, CAS’s CEO and President, Bill Weisberg, COO and Executive Vice President, and Richard Negrón, Director of Community Schools, represented the agency.
Senator Espaillat, who in 2007 founded the institute along with CAS, and has been a strong supporter ever since, gave the agency a proclamation on behalf of the State of New York for its efforts to strengthen the Northern Manhattan community through education and empowerment of its parents and caregivers. CAS gave the Senator a plaque recognizing his longstanding and critical support of family empowerment.
The EPPLI services ease families’ transition into American culture, facilitate relationships of trust with long-time and native-born community residents, guide parents to become well-informed and effective advocates for their children, and help families to become happy and productive members of the community.
The Institute provides opportunities for personal growth and education, including ESL, GED and technology training, as well as vocational skills development, financial literacy and small business development.
After the graduation ceremony, there was an exhibit showcasing examples of Institute programming. A papier-mâché art show featured one artist’s striking recreation of Taino petroglyphs and a cross-generational chess tournament had fathers, mothers, grandparents and children engaged in friendly and fierce competition. Chess is component of EPLI’s educational track that participants have embraced as a family activity with enormous positive cognitive effects for participants of every age.
The Institute team is led by Alma Whitford, Deputy Director of Community Schools, along with Coordinator Fatima Reyes, and includes the very talented and hardworking parent coordinators at the CAS community Schools (Lidia Aguasanta, Nayady Cruz, Carmen Natera, Viviana Ramirez, Lissete Leonor and Perseveranda Cruz).