The Children's Aid Blog

CAS-Carrera wins $250K grant through Microsoft and Junior Achievement

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The dreary Friday morning downpour failed to dampen the crowd’s excitement at the grand opening of the Microsoft Store at the Walt Whitman Mall in Huntington Station, NY.  Microsoft event and store staff got the SRO audience hyped with contests, music and a John Legend/Taio Cruz concert ticket giveaway. But for the Children’s Aid Society’s Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program (CAS-Carrera), the high point of the day was the ribbon cutting ceremony, wherein the program received a $250,000 in-kind donation of Microsoft technology.

The gift was facilitated by CAS-Carrera partners Junior Achievement, which was tasked by Microsoft to select local program partners to share in the $1 million award for the New York area. The JA curriculum serves as the cornerstone of CAS-Carrera’s employment component – Job Club –  which helps young people envision productive lives by exposing them to the world of work. Job Club, one of seven core components of the holistic, evidence-based CAS-Carrera program, is designed to improve financial literacy and develop life-long, positive financial decision-making through employment opportunities, entrepreneurial and community service projects, and personal bank accounts.

“We are thrilled and honored to be the recipient of the extraordinary generosity of Microsoft and Junior Achievement. Hundreds of young people in New York City will benefit tremendously from this cutting-edge technology that will enhance our financial literacy and college savings initiatives. The confidence and support of JA and Microsoft will advance CAS-Carrera’s objective of providing young people with rich opportunities to move from potential tax burdens to prospective tax payers,” said Dr. Michael A. Carrera, Director of CAS-Carrera.

To learn more about CAS-Carrera, please visit us at

If you’d like to support CAS-Carrera’s work with JA and other dedicated community partners, please donate here.

[Photo caption]

Greg Denizard, CAS-Carrera Associate Director, Operations & Programs, accepts the award on behalf of the Children’s Aid Society’s Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program

Farmer's Market Visit Encourages Healthy Eating Habits

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The children at The Drew Hamilton Learning Center are developing healthy eating and purchasing habits thanks to Health Bucks donated by The New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH). On Tuesday, August 28, each child received a $2 coupon to purchase fruit or vegetables at the Grass Roots Farmer’s Market on 145th Street. Along with fresh produce, the children arrived home with great stories from their market visit.

The Children’s Aid Society applies for Health Bucks each year and distributes them to children in early childhood, afterschool and summer programs at our centers throughout New York City. Programs like Go!Healthy and Health Bucks play an important role in Children's Aid's ongoing efforts to eradicate childhood obesity. By learning to identify fruits and vegetables based on appearance and taste, students at The Drew Hamilton Learning Center are well on their way to a healthy and happy future! Learn more about the wide range of healthy eating programs offered by Children's Aid.

Children's Aid College Prep Charter School Opens Its Doors

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The Children’s Aid College Prep Charter School officially opened its doors with a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house on Monday, August 27, 2012. Among the 150 guests in attendance were students, families, friends, Children’s Aid Society and charter school staff, Senator Gustavo Rivera, Deputy Bronx Borough President Aurelia Greene and Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg. Also on hand were representatives from TransCanada including Bill Taylor, Vice President and General Manager of Eastern US Power, TransCanada.

"The Children’s Aid College Prep Charter School is our school," Richard Buery, President and CEO of The Children’s Aid Society, told the assembled crowd. “It bears our name and our relentless commitment to excellence. It reflects our belief that the future of even the most vulnerable child is without limit."

Monday's excitement carried right on through to Wednesday, when over 130 kindergarteners and first graders started classes. Congratulations to Children's Aid College Prep! Keep checking the Children's Aid Blog as we share what will undoubtedly be a series of exciting success stories throughout the 2012-2013 school year.

View more photos from the open house here.

Richard Buery on the Huffington Post: When Bureaucracy Strains Government/Non-Profit Relationships

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In Richard Buery's latest Huffington Post piece, he examines problematic partnerships between governments and non-profits, especially when the former is more concerned with how a program is operated rather than if it produces the desired results. An excerpt is posted below.

"Providing a safety net for our most vulnerable citizens is a core function of government. And whatever one thinks of the appropriate scope of that function, we would all agree that whatever services government provides should be efficient and effective. A foster care system should provide a permanent home for children as quickly as possible. A workforce development program should help its' participants find jobs. All of this work should be done at a reasonable cost. Yet governments often act in ways that undermine these common sense principles."

Read the complete column on The Huffington Post

Follow Richard Buery on Twitter (@RichardBueryCAS)

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