From the CEO

Dear Friends:

As the $68.7 billion New York City proposed budget negotiations near the June 30 deadline, I cannot help but dread the fate that awaits thousands of children and families who desperately rely on the early childhood and after-school programs that are on the chopping block.

Forty-seven thousand children stand to lose their early childhood or after-school programs. The cuts will be particularly devastating to low-income children and their families. To put this dire situation in better perspective, I want to focus on Morrisania, a Bronx neighborhood we serve and one of the four communities with the largest loss of after-school programs if the cuts proposed in this dangerous budget are adopted.

Morrisania has among the lowest percentage of children receiving a high school diploma in the City, and just 27% of children in grades 3-8 are performing at grade level in reading.

What’s more, Morrisania has some of the City’s highest child poverty rates and has the fourth highest unemployment rate in all of New York City.

The after-school programs in this community provide a critical chance for children to receive academic support, including homework help and tutoring, and they promote positive engagement in school. These programs also help the economy by allowing parents to participate in the workforce and providing employment opportunities at the programs themselves.

How, then, can we justify the 91% reduction in programs slated for this already under-served community?

These have been difficult years for New Yorkers at the bottom of the economic ladder. We have already cut their services to the bone, and our waiting lists for these programs are the longest they have ever been. Further reductions will lead to the neglect of the very children whom the Mayor has championed in his philanthropy and public service.

The impact of these cuts will be felt immediately by families. Children will simply have nowhere else to go, and the working parents we serve will face unthinkable choices. Many will have to decide between going to work and providing for their loved ones or staying home and relying on public benefits if their early childhood and after-school programs are cut.

The Mayor’s budget says that needy children and working families aren’t priorities. I have joined several of my colleagues to launch the Campaign for Children to remind the Mayor otherwise. I urge you to join us — our children need all the support they can get.

Sincerely,

Richard Buery
 

Client Spotlight

When new students gather this fall at the top-ranked College of Nursing at NYU, a young woman who got a boost from The Children’s Aid Society—and who is now a mentor for other kids—will be among them.

Havian Nicholas, a summa cum laude graduate of Howard University, has achieved a lot in her young life. At Howard, where she majored in sociology and minored in community health, she was an executive board member of the student government and a founder of a grassroots mentorship organization. A lifetime member of Phi Beta Kappa, she was the recipient of a humanitarian award during Howard’s annual end-of-year pageant.

This accomplished young woman first got involved with Children’s Aid at the Next Generation Center (NGC), our one-stop South Bronx hub that supports young people ages 14 to 24 as they move toward adulthood and independence. NGC offers job readiness training and subsidized internships, educational guidance and advocacy, and help with housing and building life skills, along with programming in creative and visual arts and fitness and recreation.

Since Havian was already showing great promise back then, she was placed on a track to higher education through our EXCEL (Educational eXcellence Creating Empowered Leaders) Program. Unlike scholarship programs that focus only on a student’s financial need or academic ability, the EXCEL program includes additional core components such as financial literacy, career exploration and goal-setting that—along with traditional academic, social and scholarship support—prepare motivated but underprivileged young people for college and the world of work.

“Havian is a role model for her peers in EXCEL,” says the program’s director, Miguel A. Montes. “She continues to inspire young people through her work on- and off-campus.”

Before she sets out on her path to a career in nursing, however, Havian is continuing her exceptional pattern of inspiring others by giving back. She will spend her summer volunteering at an emergency shelter in Belize, where she will counsel and educate battered women who have escaped physical and sexual abuse.

Keeping the Promise

At The Children’s Aid Society’s Next Generation Center (NGC), youth who are in foster care or involved in the juvenile justice system have a chance to learn new skills, receive support and encouragement and build the confidence needed to overcome the challenges awaiting them in adulthood. According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), teen unemployment shot up to 40% after the recession began. The WSJ also reported that of the roughly 1,000 youth who age out of foster care each year, only about half find employment. Without the safety net of parents or other caregivers, many of these young people are alone when they try to enter the competitive job market.

Gap Inc., a leading global specialty retailer under the Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic brands, hires thousands of young people each year and has been instrumental in working with the staff and teens at NGC to provide much-needed job readiness training and self-confidence building activities. Gap Foundation has supported The Children’s Aid Society (CAS) since 2000.

In addition to contributing funding for the NGC’s Employment Training Program and offering in-kind contributions in the form of work attire for young people, Gap Inc. provides job-readiness training and education giving NGC teens unique opportunities to learn about the retail industry. Employees from local Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic stores have partnered with NGC teens on community service projects, offered behind-the-scenes tours of stores and served as guest speakers. And through the Gap Inc. Leadership Initiatives, CAS and NGC managers have received leadership training and capacity building support modeled on the company's own executive development program.

CAS and Gap Inc. have collaborated on important initiatives. Gail Gershon, senior director of employee engagement and service leadership at Gap Inc., participated in Children’s Aid’s recent policy forum, where she provided insights on how to best prepare youth in foster care for life as independent adults. In return, CAS's Rich Buery, Bill Weisberg and Greg Morris offered their expertise by reviewing A Toolkit For Employers: Connecting Youth & Business. This toolkit, developed by Gap Inc. in partnership with McKinsey & Company, Corporate Voices for Working Families and the Taproot Foundation, supports the work of the White House Council for Community Solutions.

Gap Inc.’s commitment to serving disconnected youth epitomizes the best kind of corporate partnership. Youth, families and the community at large benefit from the intensive support that Gap Inc. provides. And as young people begin to age out of the system, the company’s brands help young people enter the workforce at a critical time.