Visitor Profiles

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Our Free Sky, Beijing, China

On April 23, Yi Wang, founder of Our Free Sky, a non-profit organization based in Beijing, and a colleague, visited the CAS Salomé Ureña de Henriquez and Mirabal Sisters schools in Washington Heights.  He started the organization in 2006 with the purpose of  tackling education inequality in western China. Over the past 10+ years, he has visited hundreds of counties in China to get a better picture of education in under-resourced schools in rural areas.

Mr. Wang’s specific objective is to understand how a successful non-profit organization tackles education reform and education inequality from multiple directions.  He met with Marinieves Alba, community school director at the Mirabal Sisters campus, Migdalia Cortes-Torrres, community school director at the Salomé Ureña de Henriquez campus, Janice Chu-Zhu, NCCS senior director of national capacity building, and Hersilia Méndez, NCCS director of external affairs and communications.  Sanjiv Rao, program officer at the Ford Foundation, referred Mr. Wang.

Barnardo’s Northern Ireland
On March 31st and April 1st, a group of five colleagues from Barnardo’s Northern Ireland visited the NCCS, Curtis High School in Staten Island, and the collective impact zone in the South Bronx (which CAS and others are spearheading). 

Barnardo's is the U.K.’s leading children's  charity, founded in 1866 to care for vulnerable children and young people. NCCS has collaborated with  Barnardo’s for over a decade, and they now work in 162 extended-service schools across Northern Ireland.  The purpose of this study visit is to learn from our collective impact work in the South Bronx –which represents a progression from the collective action approach of community schools to the neighbourhood strategy of collective impact.

Visitors met with Bill Weisberg, CAS interim President and CEO, NCCS director Jane Quinn, Lukas Weinstein, NCCS director of special projects, and CAS director of Collective Impact, Abe Fernandez; Hersilia Méndez designed and moderated the study visit. 

Helsinki Department of Youth Affairs, Finland

On April 7, Tommi Laitio, who runs the city of Helsinki Department of Youth Affairs, visited the National Center for Community Schools to meet with Director Jane Quinn.

Mr. Laitio’s main interests were: political participation and democratic education; young people´s involvement in urban planning; and partnerships with the private sector to provide opportunities for youth. Neighborhoods in Helsinki are diversifying.  At the center of his agenda is creating opportunities that respond to the needs of the youth in the community, with a particular emphasis in involving vulnerable groups.  The Department of Youth Affairs for the City of Helsinki has a staff of 400 professionals and a network of 90 locations. 

Montclair State University/ Orange, New Jersey Community Schools Initiative

On April 9, NCCS and P.S. 8 hosted a five-member team from the community schools initiative in Orange, New Jersey, where Montclair State University is the lead agency in two schools.  The study visit focused on the Balance Center component of P.S. 8’s full-service program.  The visitors met with CAS community school director Arnery Reyes and the CAS social worker Isabel Escobar, who supervises the Balance Center.   The group is seeking to start their own Balance Center. 

HoD Careers, Wellington, New Zealand

On April 28, Jeanne Lomax, a teacher from HoD Careers from New Zealand, will visit P.S. 5 to meet with program director Gary Perez.  She is travelling on a sabbatical to investigate home-school partnerships.  Her research led to The Children’s Aid Society community schools; she is particularly interested in hearing about initiatives that improve home-school connections.

Apprentis d'Auteuil, France

On April 29, Carine Parent, a French colleague from Apprentis d ’Auteuil,  will visit P.S.5.  This non-profit organization has been supporting French children and youth in need for nearly 150 years  and children in other parts of the world for the past 20 years. Their work involves  providing access to education and high-quality training that will enable every youth to become a free, responsible adult.  Their role includes supporting families having difficulties in bringing up their children.  They run about 200 shelters in France and work with different partners in Europe, America, Asia and Africa.

Ms. Parent was referred by Sister Paulette LoMonaco, executive director, Good Shepherd Services, and Bill Weisberg, CAS interim president and CEO.  They will be meeting with Hersilia Méndez and with staff from Children’s Aid’s Early Education and Foster Care Divisions.