The Children's Aid Blog

The Youngest Constituents Make Their Vote Count

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With another very significant Election day upon us, day care participants at The Children’s Aid Society’s Drew Hamilton Center had a taste of the real thing with a mock election at their site: to vote for their snack of the day. The young voters had to decide between apples and oranges. Today, the “election” results and photos are posted around the center to remind parents, staff and other adults the importance of voting. The children are learning from an early age the importance of their opinion and, more importantly, the power in their vote. These 3 and 4 year olds have taught us a valuable lesson: whether you are voting between apples and oranges or presidential candidates, every votes counts. The results are in! While it was a close call between apples and oranges, apples were the majority’s pick of the day!

Civic engagement is a very important duty, we hope that all of those who can, will go out and make their vote count!




Harlem Children and Parents March in Support of After-school Programs

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Over 200 children from The Children’s Aid Society’s Dunlevy Milbank Center and their families marched up Lenox Avenue in Harlem Thursday evening to the State Office Building on 125th street to raise awareness on the importance of afterschool programs. With colorful signs, loud chanting and letters in hand, the group marched eagerly to meet their community leaders as part of the 13th Annual Lights On Afterschool nationwide rally.

Once there, students delivered moving testimonies and delivered their letters to the offices of Congressman Rangel and Councilmember Dickens. Senator Perkins, a dedicated friend of The Children’s Aid Society and strong advocate for afterschool programs was present to great the lively children.

Lights On Afterschool, an Afterschool Alliance event is a nationwide rally designed to highlight the importance of after-school programs in keeping children safe, educated and meaningfully engaged. One million Americans are estimated to be participating in over 7,500 events across the country. Children’s Aid’s Dunlevy Milbank Center promotes the holistic development of students in after-school activities ranging from educational enhancement, homework assistance, dance, arts and crafts, sports and nutrition. Dunlevy Milbank is one of 12 Children’s Aid Society sites organizing youth to advocate for after-school programming during Lights On Afterschool.

Garden of Dreams Hosts "Pay It Forward" Event at Dunlevy Milbank Center

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This past Columbus Day was a fun day for hundreds of Children’s Aid Society’s Dunlevy Milbank participants because of the special visit they received from a couple well-known friends of The Garden of Dreams Foundation at a "Pay It Forward" event. Among the guests were New York Knicks point guards Jason Kidd and Baron Davis, former shooting guard John Starks, New York Rangers Adam Graves, the Knicks City Dancers and the Rockettes. The event hosted by Garden of Dreams Board Member Darryl McDaniels of Run DMC, encouraged the children to give back to their community and do something positive for others. Before the day’s activities took off, Darryl led the youth and adults in an aspirational chant “I am the greatest thing to happen to this universe. And because of that, it's my responsibility to make others great too.”

The children were able to participate in a number of activities that included basketball, hockey, dancing and a singing workshop with Darryl McDaniels himself. Each child also received a Garden of Dreams backpack and school supplies handed out by the celebrity guests. Click here to view more photos.

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.