The Children's Aid Blog

A Head Start on TV Careers, With the Garden as a Lab

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Moses McRae and Jazmyn Benjamin, both 15, were at Madison Square Garden, where workers, officials and athletes served as interview subjects and mentors to the students.

The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund recently featured this Children’s Aid story, written by Vincent M. Mallozzi, about Moses McRae and Jazmyn Benjamin and their recent opportunity to interview workers, officials and athletes at Madison Square Garden. Below is an excerpt from the original article.

Last month at Madison Square Garden, Moses McRae, 15, conducted an interview with Danilo Gallinari of the Knicks:

“Who do you think are the toughest opponents in the league?” Moses asked Mr. Gallinari, a 6-foot-10-inch forward, shortly before a game against the Atlanta Hawks.

“There are many tough opponents,” Mr. Gallinari said. “But I would have to say that Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are two of the toughest.”

Moses, a sophomore at the High School for Environmental Studies in Manhattan, is studying television production — but not in high school. He is one of 10 children from low-income communities who are taking part in Hope Leadership Academy, which is run by the Children’s Aid Society, one of the seven agencies supported by The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund.

“My interview strategy was to memorize as many questions as possible and to write some key words down on paper to help me remember questions I might have forgotten to ask,” Moses said after the interview, which he conducted along with Jessica Gooden, 15, a student at Frederick Douglass Academy II in Harlem, where she lives.

Since 2007, Hope Leadership Academy has worked with the Garden of Dreams Foundation to form the MSG Classroom program, which teaches children about jobs in television, including announcing, producing, directing and creating graphics.

The students use Madison Square Garden as their laboratory, and Garden employees and officials, as well as athletes — from the Knicks, the Rangers, the Liberty, MSG Entertainment and the music channel Fuse — serve as interview subjects and mentors.

“This has been an extremely successful partnership,” said Michael Roberts, assistant division director for adolescent services at the Children’s Aid Society. “This is a very unique program, because it is not just about giving something to a child to help out in an immediate crisis, but these are real-world skills these children are learning, skills that will help them find jobs in the future.”

Read full article…

To learn how you can make a difference, please link over to The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund or contact:

The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund
230 West 41st Street
Suite 1300
New York, NY 10036
(800) 381-0075

Photo courtesy of Earl Wilson for The New York Times

Children’s Aid Early Childhood Department gets Ooey Gooey with a Workshop that Refreshes and Invigorates Children’s Aid teachers!

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On Monday January 4th, The Children’s Aid Society’s Early Childhood department sponsored an all-day division-wide professional development workshop for its teachers to kick off the 2010 year. Lisa Murphy, better known as the Ooey Gooey Lady, came to The Philip Coltoff Center at Greenwich Village to talk to a group of over 120 CAS early childhood educators from across 10 centers about strategies for incorporating science and mathematics into their curriculum.

Her workshop titled Fizzle, Bubble Pop & Wow, provided ideas for simple science experiments for young children. For example, teachers learned how to create mini-explosions and different materials using everyday household ingredients such as baking soda and vinegar. Teachers came away from the workshop refreshed and invigorated for the New Year.

Many thanks to Ooey Gooey for joining us!

Margaret Caspe, The Children’s Aid Society in New York

Engineers distribute toys for Three Kings Day in East Harlem

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Photo Courtesy of Ben RussellOn Wednesday, January 6th, the Hispanic community celebrated Three Kings Day. No one who takes this celebration more seriously than the children and families at The Children’s Aid Society’s East Harlem Center.

Seventy-five children and their families took part in the evening of dinner, dancing and art. Keeping with the theme of the day, children decorated crowns with glitter and jewels. Since camels were the preferred method of transportation for the three wise men, many in attendance constructed and decorated paper camels.

The highlight of the evening came when toys were given to the children by the New York Chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. Ten members, including the Chapter’s President Edward Montenegro (pictured), joined the evening's festivities and, thanks to the toys, quickly became the most popular people in the room. Almost as soon as the gifts were in the children’s hands, the engineers were fast at work helping the little ones assemble their new toys. Everyone had a wonderful time; A future engineer may have been born that evening too!

Lifting a Girl and Her Ailing Grandmother

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The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund recently featured this Children’s Aid story about Maria Cruz de Leon and how Children’s Aid helped improve her reading. Below is an excerpt from the original article by Daniel Slotnik.

The speakers behind the green sofa and love seat in the sunny living room of Rosa Cruz’s Washington Heights apartment were silent as Ms. Cruz’s 10-year-old granddaughter, Maria Cruz de Leon, shyly danced.

Maria said she loved dancing and singing, but she liked dancing more because “when I’m dancing, I just feel like I’m alone and everybody’s watching me.”

She said she had learned many of her steps at Alvin Ailey Dance Camp, a Children’s Aid Society summer camp that taught her “jazz, hip-hop, a lot of things I can’t even remember.”

Ms. Cruz beamed at Maria’s footwork, her smile belying the tough times they had shared.

Read more…

To learn how you can make a difference for this family and many others, please link over to The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund or contact:

The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund
230 West 41st Street
Suite 1300
New York, NY 10036
(800) 381-0075

Photo courtesy of Chester Higgins Jr. for The New York Times

Get Fit For Life with Kelsey Stevens at The Children's Aid Society's Dunlevy Milbank Center in Harlem

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Sports & Fitness for the whole family is available year round at The Children's Aid Society's Dunlevy Milbank Center in Harlem. There is something for everyone: female focused fitness and basketball programs and an inter-generational program that brings in children and their family members regardless of age. Want to manage some of the biggest names in Sports? Learn how the Sport Management program at Dunlevy Milbank is preparing its teens for such an exciting career.

Report on Childhood Obesity – Planning for a Healthier Tomorrow

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mapChildhood obesity is a serious health condition affecting over one-third of American children, from state to state.  A recent national report, “F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America 2009,” released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), issued a list of health reform recommendations to combat obesity. It emphasizes the importance of preventative medical care, such as nutrition counseling and screening for obesity-related illnesses like Type 2 Diabetes and high blood pressure. The Report also recommends increasing the number of programs available in communities and schools that make nutritional food readily available and affordable to children and their families.

According to the RWJF Report, the fight against child obesity cannot make a  nationwide impact without a concerted, national strategy implemented at the federal, state and municipal levels in collaboration with businesses, schools, and communities.

In another report, School Meals: Building Blocks for Healthy Children,” the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends that standards be set by the USDA for nutritious menu planning in schools, where fruit, vegetable and grains would pre-dominate, and sodium and saturated fats would be significantly reduced. The following quote is from Stefania Patinella, Director of Nutrition, The Children’s Aid Society:

The Children’s Aid Society applauds RWJF and the IOM for bringing attention to arguably the most urgent health issue facing our nation’s children. In 2003, Children’s Aid launched the Go!Healthy initiative to educate children and families about wellness and the joys of healthful cooking and eating.  Go Healthy includes: Go! Kids, a toddler food and fitness program; Go! Chefs, a hands-on cooking and nutrition education program for children and families; and Healthy Meals, our foodservice program that feeds approximately 1,500 children each day in the early childhood, after-school and teen programs. The Children’s Aid Healthy Meals program adheres to and exceeds the IMO recommendations. Children’s meals are made entirely from scratch from original recipes that are based on whole and fresh foods, especially fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Healthy Meals constitutes a profound change to the heat-and-serve model of foodservice, and to implement it successfully we developed a Cook’s Training program to educate cooks in healthful food preparation and basic nutrition. The program has made a profound impact across our community centers—not only in increasing the nutrients and taste of foods we serve, but in broadening the palates and eating behaviors of children, teachers and parents. As districts around the country turn their attention to better school food, Children’s Aid is leading the equally important effort to provide better food in early childhood programs (where children consume up to 80% of their daily calories) and after-school programs.

Teamwork: The Children’s Aid Society and The Boys and Girls Clubs of America

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flag footballIt takes a huge commitment of resources and teamwork to serve the needs of underprivileged Youths of New York City. We have seen on this blog how The Children’s Aid Society collaborates with hundreds of partners and thousands of volunteers to provide help in the daily lives of under-privileged children. Among these partners is the venerable Boys & Girls Clubs of America. In fact, Children’s Aid is a founding member of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA).

The BGCA, like Children’s Aid, is dedicated to serving the needs of kids every day - encouraging young people to complete their homework, play sports, enter an art competition or eat a healthier snack. The BGCA serves boys and girls in thousands of  locations, many in partnership with Children’s Aid.

martial arts In fact, virtually every Children’s Aid Community after-school program site, operating under Children’s Aid community schools and centers, functions as a Boys & Girls Club. These programs serve children in Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx.

Other examples of this historic partnership: Children’s Aid and the BGCA of New York engaged in partnership with Morgan Stanley to provide 83,500 meals and 66,000 snacks to children just last summer. And, along with our after-school programs, weekend and holiday programs also are offered at our community centers and schools, using BGCA curricula.

We can all be partners of The Children’s Aid Society - your donation, no matter how big or small, multiplied by others' commitment, can make a difference in a child's life that will last for a lifetime! To learn more, visit us here.

Business of Giving: Follow IBM’s Lead

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As the economy slowly resuscitates, companies might use a slow rebound as an excuse to ignore their social responsibilities. But I ask you to take a lesson from IBM, and not, as the company says, “retreat into our shells,” but rather, “go on the offense.”

“Although some companies are reacting to the present crisis by hunkering down and hoping to ride out the storm, from both a business and a societal standpoint, we are taking a different approach,” writes IBM Chairman and CEO Samuel J. Palmisano in the company’s 2008 Corporate Social Responsibility Report. “We believe that the issues facing the world are too critical and far too urgent -- and the opportunities to make meaningful progress on them too immediate -- not to act now.” |

For this reason IBM pledged itself to:

  • Aiding victims of natural disasters with its “disaster relief in a box” Web-based management system.
  • Addressing food shortages by helping compute genetic data that can be used to generate stronger strains of rice.
  • Using technology to improve educational opportunities for 700 schools in 22 countries.

To read the full article, link here

C. Warren Moses, Former CEO

Jane Fonda Supports Dr. Carrera’s Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program!

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Jane Fonda speaking to the attendees

Jane Fonda, who has been a strong supporter of Dr. Michael Carrera’s Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program, and Dr. Carrera himself, spoke eloquently and passionately about teen pregnancy prevention at the celebration of the program’s 25 year anniversary.

Jane’s commitment to working on teen pregnancy issues began at a maternity ward of a local hospital, where she met a 14-year-old girl who was in labor with her second child. Jane said:

“She fixed me with her eyes daring me to be judgmental and I prayed that my eyes reflected some kind of love back to her… I realized that there was nothing I could do for her unless I could somehow offer her a life… I wanted to put my arms around her and hold her; I figured nobody ever had, except for sex.

Within weeks of that experience I meet Dr. Michael Carrera at a conference and I heard him speak. He had the words to conceptualize everything we needed if we were to stop young teens from having babies.


Event attendee and speaker, Jane Fonda with Dr. Michael Carrera

Michael said, ‘the principal lever in our work is caring – it’s more important to be kind than right,’ and then he said it’s not what you do that matters…’what they will never forget is how you made them feel,’ and that entered my DNA!

I have never in my life met a man as strategic, as purposeful, as single minded and as full of heart, he taught me that at the foundation of this work it’s about love… and that changed my life and I will be forever grateful.”

Thanks Jane – we are forever grateful to you for your support.

Read more on Jane Fonda’s blog.

Kathy de Meij, Associate Director of Development, Director of Marketing & Special Events

Photos Courtesy of Lily Kesselman

Business of Giving: Socialism in America is Impossible

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There has been a lot of debate lately as to whether proposals such as health-care reform will turn America into a socialist state.

Considering what I’ve learned in 35 years working for nonprofits, I confidently say that this can never be the case.

America will never become socialist because our advancement as a nation depends too greatly on the work of private donors (including individuals, corporations, and corporate foundations) in partnership with nonprofit organizations and the government to work together to find solutions to society’s most complex problems.

This uniquely American “social trinity” ensures that responsibility for public welfare can’t rest solely on the shoulders of the state. It hasn’t happened, isn’t happening, and won’t happen because the system we’ve developed is too effective to be tossed into the recycling bin in favor of government agencies created to do the job nonprofits do so well.

To read the full article, link here

C. Warren Moses, Former CEO