The Children's Aid Blog

Children’s Art Show Draws Hundreds of Viewers

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Last week, The Children’s Aid Society hosted its 12th annual Children’s Art Show at the Dunlevy Milbank Center, located in Harlem. Hundreds of children, families and friends from the community arrived at Milbank’s gymnasium, which had been transformed into a fully functioning gallery with 186 pieces of curated and professionally framed artwork. The show featured traditional still lifes, self-portraits and many other styles of paintings, in addition to model cities, paper mache fashion pieces and impressive photography. All items on display were products of countless hours of work by children and teenagers from our community schools and community centers around New York City.  

The evening also featured a reception, kicked off by remarks from Children’s Aid’s President and CEO Richard R. Buery Jr. and COO William D. Weisberg. This was followed by musical performances from Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School’s hip-hop group “Apollo Luck” and guitar soloist Adam Avalo, and elementary school blues musicians from Milbank’s “Harmony in Harlem.”

At The Children’s Aid Society, we believe that engagement in the arts is an essential component of the healthy, holistic development of every child. We strive to provide high-quality arts programming for the children we serve, who may not receive a full range of arts opportunities at school. A special thanks goes out to our generous sponsors and supporters who allowed us to celebrate our students’ artistic achievement.

Photography by Lily Kesselman

From the Associates Council: Q&A with Tanya Steel

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Meet Tanya Wenman Steel, editor-in-chief of, best-selling cook book author, James Beard award winner and mother of two quickly growing (and eating) boys. We're thrilled to have her joining our Emerald City event as our special guest!

Her philosophy for helping kids learn to love cooking healthy, 'real' food aligns perfectly with Go!Healthy's mission. You can start to see why in our Q&A below. We hope you come out to meet her in person, along with some of the star chefs in our program, on Wednesday, May 8!

  1. What about Children’s Aid and the Go!Healthy program speaks to you and your cause?

    It doesn't just teach kids the facts and figures about how to eat healthy, but provides hands-on learning that empowers and energizes the children to want to cook and eat this way—and once you start them young, they are likely to eat this way for the rest of their life.

  2. What are the major obstacles that kids face in eating healthy?

    Affordability, availability and lack of knowledge and skills are the prime obstacles. If they live in a food desert, it's hard to find healthy food sources, especially ones that are affordable. The good news is that food producers and manufacturers and food retailers are working together to make food deserts dry up. And as kids learn what they can do with, say, a pear or a sweet potato, they are more likely to eat those foods, knowing they can sprinkle some oats on a sliced pear and bake it for a crisp, or microwave a sweet potato, smash it with a fork and add a bit of butter and milk.

  3. What do you see as the most promising solutions for curbing child obesity?
  4. Knowledge and passion will go a long way towards curbing obesity.Kids need to feel empowered to take care of their own health. Obviously, all of the things happening as a result of Mrs. Obama's initiative, “Let’s Move,” is going a long way to getting the corporate and nonprofit worlds activated and mobilized to join in the fight.

  5. What inspired you to advocate for healthy eating among kids or just in general?

    After I had my own kids, I realized that getting kids to eat healthy was so important, and yet, so few had access to information on how to incorporate that into their daily life. Obesity and weight issues not only affect one's physical health, but also can affect energy, concentration and one's confidence. It adversely affects so many aspects, emotionally, intellectually and physically.

  6. What are your favorite recipes to make with your kids or with any kids?

    Edamame succotash, whole wheat Cookies, granola, chana masala—just about anything! I rarely fry foods and don't cook that much red meat, so I don't do that with kids either…

  7. How do you get kids to eat grown-up food?

    There is no such thing as grown-up food, just good-tasting, well-made food and not so good-tasting food. Kids do and should eat everything adults do, and taste things from around the globe. Food should be a passionate exploration, not something to shrink from.

Children’s Aid Supports Denim Day NYC, Advocacy for Sexual Assault Victims

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In 1998, the Italian Supreme Court dismissed a rape case, reasoning that since the victim was wearing tight jeans–which are hard to remove–she must have consented to the act. This absurd ruling sparked a worldwide protest on behalf of victims of sexual assault, culminating in an annual day of solidary on April 24, known as “Denim Day.” Supporters in cities around the world wear jeans and other denim items to show that fashion choices are never an invitation or an excuse for unlawful sexual advances.

Denim Day NYC involves a press conference and a rally at City Hall, and was endorsed by The Children’s Aid Society, several other nonprofits and all five borough presidents. Children’s Aid works with youth and their families who have been affected either directly or indirectly by sexual assault, such as in our Family Wellness Program in the Bronx. Working with victims to overcome trauma from sexual assault is a crucial service we provide in New York City, and we fully support efforts to advocate on behalf of victims.

From the Associates Council: The Brains Behind Emerald City

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Last week I wrote about the tremendous courage the not-so-cowardly lions on the Emerald City team have shown in recruiting corporate sponsors and raffle prize donors. In this second post in the series, I’ll turn to the Scarecrow -- which is to say, some of the brains behind our event. I’m thinking in particular about our Logistics and Marketing committees, who’ve been managing the planning and publicity details on a daily basis for nearly four months.

Rebecca Steuer and Anjali Kar, who also work together at an advertising technology company, started down the yellow brick road early on as chairs of the Logistics Committee. With extensive experience with large-scale events, Rebecca and Anjali have thought through every aspect of the night itself, from the flowers on the tables (can you guess what they’ll be?) to the presentation and program to the precise balance of hors d’oeuvres and desserts.

These two have masterfully coordinated with the venue, the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center, the caterer, ‘wichcraft, and our beneficiary, Go!Healthy to put together an event to remember. Thanks to Rebecca and Anjali, we’ll be welcoming a renowned guest speaker, Tanya Steel, in addition to a handful of star chefs from Go!Healthy who’ll be demonstrating one of their favorite healthy recipes.  I could go on and on, but I’d rather not spoil the surprise and excitement of attending the event itself. You’ll just have to join us to see it yourself!

And that’s where Marketing comes in. It’s taken some big brains and focused dedication to get the word out about Emerald City and make the case for coming to the loveliest event of the charity season (if I do say so myself). Marketing the Associates Council spring fundraiser has come a long way since we first started throwing this event three years ago -- thanks in large part to the Communications team at CAS, led by Anthony Ramos. With their support, the Emerald City volunteers developed a full communications plan as well as all the public-facing content.

My co-chair Sara Grace Moss took the lead on the press release, and we were lucky enough to have a PR professional, Ali Rotondo of Edelman, driving social media efforts and writing six weeks’ worth of posts for three different social pages. Nathaniel Soria, a talented graphic designer by trade, created the entire creative concept for Emerald City, which combines art nouveau with Manhattan chic. This year’s invitation is truly a masterpiece, and Nathaniel will even be animating it for display on the media board at Lincoln Center. He was also the mastermind behind  Finally, with these blogs, I personally have been trying to bring all the fun we’re having to life, and I hope I’ve given you a sense of the Associates Council spirit and the level of commitment we have on our terrific committee.

So, to all the Scarecrows out there: get smart and buy a ticket to Emerald City today!  

- Giuliana Vetrano, Co-Chair, Spring Event Committee

Rhinelander Children’s Center Hosts “Garden of Lights” Event

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On April 24, the Rhinelander Children’s Center will hold its annual “Garden of Lights” fundraiser at the beautiful Battery Gardens in downtown Manhattan. Rhinelander, a premier Upper East Side resource offering arts, education and recreational programs, will celebrate with a buffet and cocktails, as well as an auction and a raffle. Proceeds from the evening will benefit Rhinelander’s Saturday Program for deaf and hard-of-hearing youth–New York City’s only free weekend program of its kind–and our scholarship fund for low-income families.

This year, Garden of Lights will recognize Rhinelander’s Alicen Harrad, After-School Director, and Ellen Santoro, Early Childhood Program Director. Together, they have dedicated over 40 years to nurturing thousands of children through superb educational and arts programming.

Please view our full invitation, or contact Sydney Rose at or 212-876-0500 for ticket purchases. See you there!

NYC Holds Awards Ceremony for Early Head Start Parents

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On April 17, New York City Children's Services Division of Early Care and Education hosted the 2013 City-wide Head Start Policy Council Installation and Award Ceremony.  The event honored New York City parents who have committed to sitting on the ACS Parent Board as representatives for the children and families in Head Start programs.  In her welcome, Deputy Commissioner Myung Lee applauded the parents for their dedication and commitment to making programs better not only for their own individual children, but for the 20,000 children benefiting from Head Start services overseen by the City.  Dr. Geoffrey Canada, the President and CEO of the Harlem Children's Zone, was the keynote speaker and further underscored the inspiring efforts of the parents for ensuring that Head Start children are provided with the support and services necessary to have a path out of poverty and into a successful future. The Children's Aid Society commends our parent representative, Ms. Takiyah Tinsley (pictured here with Commissioner Lee and Dr. Canada), who was honored at the event for her commitment to representing Children's Aid's Head Start children and families at the city level.

Written by Moria Cappio

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!”