Monthly Archives: September 2009

Ribbon Cutting at the Sunset Park High School

The  official opening of the long-awaited Sunset Park High School took place last Wednesday, September 23, 2009, with a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.  Speakers at the event included NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, NYC Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz,  NY State Assembly Member Felix Ortiz, and City Council Member Sara Gonzalez.

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Filed under School-Based Youth Development Programs, Youth Development

We Can Do It! in the National Spotlight

IMG_1810A big day for the We Can Do It! Cooperative: on September 15, coop members and the Center’s Vanessa Bransburg traveled to Washington D.C at the invitation of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. At the 2009 Public Policy Conference, part of the Hispanic Heritage Month event series, We Can Do It! was showcased as an innovative business that leads the way for Latinos in the green economy. We Can Do It! members were introduced by Brooklyn Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez.

CNN recently featured We Can Do It! in a profile of businesses across the nation where workers take charge.

We Can Do It! is a cooperative formed by Sunset Park residents that provides housecleaning services using green products and methods. Over the past three years, they have developed a thriving business and inspired many in our community and at the Center.

Their outstanding achievement is an example of how creativity, collaboration and perseverance can overcome the formidable barriers to economic success and business ownership that stand in the way for so many in Sunset Park.

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Filed under Fair Work, Immigrants in NYC, Worker Cooperative Project

Coops On the Money

The Sunset Park cooperatives supported by the Center were recently featured on the TV show On the Money, which addresses economic justice issues affecting New York City’s neighborhoods. The show is produced by the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project (NEDAP), a resource and advocacy center for community groups, and airs on different channels around the metropolitan area. You can watch this week’s show about the coops on NEDAP’s Youtube channel. Here’s part one:

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Filed under Center for Family Life, Community Development, Immigrants in NYC, Worker Cooperative Project

Our Annual Progress Report

5Each year, the Center compiles a report that gives a detailed look at our work in each of our program areas. The new edition of our Progress Report is now in print; the electronic version can be downloaded here (pdf). The report covers the 2008 fiscal year.

As in previous years, we devoted a chapter to Sunset Park itself. In this profile, we seek to describe the strengths and needs of the neighborhood and its residents through a variety of perspectives, including the history of the neighborhood, demographics, economic trends, housing issues, health and safety, and education.

Highlights from the report:

  • In FY 2008, the Center engaged 13,508 individuals and 8,632 families in services that promote family stability, economic security, individual growth, and community development.
  • Our Family Counseling program served 448 families with 985 children in FY 2008. The program expanded to serve additional Chinese-speaking families, increasing our capacity to serve Sunset Park’s growing Chinese population, the third largest Chinese community in New York City.
  • The Center’s school-based programs at three neighborhood school sites engaged 6,097 children, youth and adults in group and community-building activities that promote social, physical, academic, artistic, and leadership development during out-of-school hours.
  • “Life Lines” Community Arts Project at M.S. 136/M.S. 821 celebrated 25 years of free, year-round arts and leadership programs for middle and high school youth with an alumni outreach project, a new Repertory Company, and a spring performance series at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center.
  • In Summer 2007, our Youth Employment Program coordinated summer jobs and supportive workshops for 1,457 youth at over 140 worksites, generating over $1.75 million in earnings benefiting Brooklyn youth and their families.
  • The Youth Employment Program expanded its service learning and college readiness activities, increasing total school-year enrollment by 65% in FY 2008. With support from YEP staff, 100% of 12th grade students in the Step-Up program graduated from high school and 98% were accepted to college.
  • Our food pantry provided 84,240 nutritious meals to families in need, serving an average of 780 individuals each month.
  • The Community Service Program’s free tax-filing services for low-income families yielded over $4.2 million in tax returns to 2,400 Sunset Park residents.

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Non-Profit Quarterly: Focus on Immigration

In its Summer 2009 issue, Nonprofit Quarterly focuses on the issue of immigration, “taking apart and restitching the picture of nonprofits and their service, program, and advocacy relationships with immigrant populations.” Articles in the journal, including some web-only features, approach the issue from four perspectives: Community Development and Immigration, Immigration Policy, Immigrant Youth, and Immigration and Philanthropy.

“All nonprofits have a stake in treating, serving, advocating for, and supporting immigrants in this nation,” writes Rick Cohen in An Immigration Agenda for ‘Regular Jane and Joe’ Nonprofits. ” What should nonprofits be prepared to do?” Click on the link to read his recommendations. In Building Economic Power in Immigrant Communities- Lessons from the Field, author Analisa Nazareno offers case studies highlighting successful economic development practices in immigrant communities, including two of the most successful and innovative organizations to help Latino immigrants acquire the knowledge and financial tools necessary to achieve economic security, Latino Community Credit Union (LCCU) in North Carolina and the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) in Minnesota.

“Frequently, nonprofits view immigrant populations as accumulations of deficits, but for immigrant youth, nonprofits should also see the assets that can be built on and developed,” argue Cynthia Garcia Coll and Flannery Patton in Supporting Immigrant Youth – Removing Obstacles and Building on Strengths. The article discusses the strengths immigrant youth demonstrate in schools and in their communities, examines the institutional and contextual supports that foster their success, and describes non-profit programs and practices that have been the most effective in serving immigrant youth.

For more articles in this extensive collection, including in-depth discussion of issues related to immigration reform and the role philanthropies, visit the Non-Profit Quarterly’s web site.

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Filed under Community Development, Immigrants in NYC, Youth Development

Redesigning Foster Care: Workshop in Florida

1Late last spring, the Center’s co-director, Julia Jean-Francois was invited by the Annie E. Casey Foundation to Florida to deliver a two-day workshop on family-focused approach to foster care delivery. The workshop, called “Critical Thinking,” was part of the Foster Care Redesign initiative of the Florida Department of Children and Families and the Family Support Services of North Florida.

The first day of the workshop featured a series of role play scenarios, using an effective “cut and rewind” technique, which allows participants to discuss what they observe and to suggest alternative approaches when the role playing resumes.  About a month later, the second day of the workshop reunited participants to discuss and analyze their experiences with implementing the concepts discussed in the first session.

Click here to watch clips of the nearly ten hours of video footage from the Florida event, covering the entire two-day workshop. Afterward, you can test your new skills with this online quiz.

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Filed under Center for Family Life, Child Welfare

Her Story

The video below is an interview with key Si Se Puede!/We Can Do It! Cooperative member Afsari Jahan, from a series called “Herstories in the Economy” by the New York Women’s Foundation:

Since the launch of the cooperative incubator project at Center for Family Life in 2006, the New York Women’s Foundation has provided crucial support for the success of this innovative initiative. You can read their “Grantee Spotlight” about the Center here.

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Filed under Community Development, Immigrants in NYC, Worker Cooperative Project