Each year, Union Settlement serves more than 13,000 residents of East Harlem, one of New York’s poorest communities with a broad spectrum of educational programs and human services. Our dedicated staff of program directors, teachers, caseworkers, counselors, social workers, youth advocates, tutors, family workers and more work every day with families to create a stronger community and better lives.
The last three years have posed significant challenges for our community and our agency. As with community-based organizations nationwide, we are fighting hard to continue to provide quality services while weathering the effects of the economic crisis. For these reasons, we are especially proud to report a wide array of accomplishments from the past year. All the achievements below are only possible thanks to our generous supporters, who have been stalwarts amid these challenging times.
Click on the link below to view program accomplishments:
- The Fund for Public Health in New York selected Union Settlement as their Manhattan partner for their Communities Putting Prevention to Work – Obesity Community Engagement Program. The program seeks to educate New York City residents about the role that sugar-sweetened beverages play in the obesity epidemic and the negative health consequences of obesity and to educate other area nonprofits to the dangers of sugary beverages, and initiate intuitional policy change at these nonprofits. So far, we have provided services to 500 participants in these nonprofits, and by summer’s end, that number will reach 1,500.
- We launched an exciting new partnership with the nationally recognized OASIS Institute on an Intergenerational Tutoring Program. The program recruits and trains older adults from the community to volunteer to tutor and mentor students twice weekly throughout the school year to help build the children’s reading skills, self-esteem and positive attitudes towards learning. During our first semester, we served a total of 42 children in grades K– 3 in four East Harlem elementary schools. Schools, teachers and parents report significant improvements in reading and confidence in the participating students. At the same time, our program has provided meaningful volunteer opportunities to 27 older adults, over 90% of whom, when surveyed, say that they plan to continue during the 2011-2012 school year. An additional 15 students will be provided literacy-focused tutoring during the summer at Union Settlement’s Rising Stars Summer program. We will expand the program in the 2011-2012 year.
- Union Settlement once again provided a wide range of activities for the East Harlem community, including our annual Ethnic Festival, Day of the Dead Celebration and our seasonal Farmers’ Market, which provides affordable, fresh produce to thousands of East Harlem residents every Thursday from July to early November—a boon in a neighborhood dominated by bodegas and fast food restaurants. From July to September, the market also features a nutrition and health education booth staffed by Cornell University Cooperative Extension community educators and volunteers who demonstrate healthy, culturally sensitive recipes and help customers learn more about fruits and vegetables sold at the market. We also teamed up with Free Arts NYC for several days of exciting art projects. On each occasion, approximately 75 Free Arts volunteers partnered with about 80 children, including participants in our Rising Stars elementary age program, for a day of arts projects, including making murals, sculptures and masks.
- We continue to take the pulse of the community to keep track of community issues and to ensure our participants’ needs are meet. This past year, our seventh Community Needs Assessment Survey was completed by 1,258 respondents, a 20% increase since last time. The survey was conducted with the assistance of the Hunter College School of Social Work, which compiled and analyzed the results from the survey. Among other questions, the survey participants were asked what they considered to be the biggest need in East Harlem, and the top three responses were education (23%), youth services (16%) and jobs/employment (11%). Other common answers included community building, crime reduction/violence prevention, affordable housing, childcare and health care. Ninety-two percent of participants attend Union Settlement programming at least once per week—up from 85%--with over 37% participating five or more times per week. A resounding 96% reported our staff as “always” or “usually” courteous and friendly. Nearly 94% reported that they were “always” or “usually” satisfied with the services they received at Union Settlement. Their responses will guide us in the coming year. For instance, many respondents in our Adult Education department expressed a desire for more childcare, so our Director of Adult Education reached out to our Childcare program and arranged to have Family Workers come into the classrooms to discuss their options.
- This past year, our Adult Education Program assisted more than 700 students in gaining English, basic literacy, GED preparation, computer and citizenship classes, meeting or surpassing all government-mandated outcomes. This year we are offering 24 classes, both at our main building on East 104th street and at the Washington Houses Community Center, home of our Youth Services program. We are also providing immigration and educational counseling to students in English, Spanish, French and Arabic. We are proud to offer Manhattan’s only French GED class, a crucial service for the large numbers of francophone African immigrants now living in our community.
- Our innovative Bilingual Home Health Aide Training Program helped area residents begin careers in home care. Students attend three weeks of job readiness training, health literacy and English skills development, including a minimum of 36 hours of instruction and tutoring, followed by four weeks of full-day Home Health Aide Training at the SKILL Center. Upon successful completion of the program, students are placed in employment at Union Settlement Home Care Services, Cooperative Health Care, or Partners in Care. To date, over 200 students have completed the job readiness training and 80 are already working.
- Our New Populations Initiative helped improve literacy levels and provided support services for East Harlem’s newest population of functionally illiterate immigrants, serving 32 low-literacy students from West Africa and various Arab-speaking nations. After the first semester, 100% of students had gained basic literacy skills, including alphabet and number recognition and the ability to write their names. By year’s end, 85% were able to do homework with their children and feel more comfortable interacting with children’s teachers. In addition, 85% (up from 75% last year and 60% the year before) showed academic gains and demonstrated the ability to speak and interact with other students who do not speak their native language. Sixty percent made sufficient progress to advance to English for Speakers of Other Languages (“ESOL”) Level I in the fall. All 32 students and more than 65 family members also received individual support, including receiving information on the public school system, enrolling their children in daycare and gaining citizenship. The most fundamental outcome of all, however, is the fact that 85% of our students became functionally literate by year’s end.
- Nearly 400 ESOL and GED students participated in our Writing Through Reading Program, attending workshops, doing their own creative writing and attending special readings at the 92nd Street Y and at Union Settlement by such world-renowned writers as Marie Lundquist, Tomasz Rozycki, Bei Dao, and Maxine Hong Kingston. We also had poet Jesus Papoleto Melendez on staff this year, teaching writing and poetry, helping students create their annual student anthology and providing motivation and inspiration.
- Our Adult Education program is continually expanding and refining its offerings, serving new segments of the East Harlem population as the need arises. This year, Director of Adult Education Melissa Nieves, was honored with a 2010 United Neighborhood Houses Emily Menlo Marks Leadership Development Award, and funds from the award were devoted towards establishing a program-wide culture of acceptance and understanding for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning (LGBTQ) community within our agency. So far, 15 teachers and staff members have participated in Cultural Sensitivity training, 50 students have participated in workshops about the LGBTQ community and how we can create a safe space for diversity. Ms. Nieves, along with our poetry and media teacher and the director of our HIV Care Network, conducted a workshop at the Adult Basic Education conference in May on how to better serve the LGBTQ community. Ms. Nieves has also forged stronger partnerships with area LGBTQ organizations such as Harlem United, the Latino Commission on AIDS and the Bronx Community Pride Center. A short film was created about LGBTQ issues in NYC’s communities of color.
- We provided college and financial aid counseling to more than 1,460 low-income, prospective first-generation college students in six public high schools and three middle schools in East and Central Harlem, the Upper West Side and the South Bronx.
- We have expanded our services to older high school students, helping 421 low-income, predominantly minority high school seniors graduate, up from 360 last year and 200 the year before. Ninety-five percent applied to college and 82% enrolled, receiving acceptances from such schools as New York University, Carnegie Mellon University, St. John’s University, Brown University, Cornell University and Skidmore College.
- We offered students their first exposure to higher education through 15 visits to the campuses of Baruch College, City College of New York, Drew University, Hofstra University, Lehigh University, Lehman College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Brooklyn College, Pennsylvania State University, the French Culinary Institute and more. These trips were in addition to a Summer College Experience at Drew University. Last summer, 36 students took part in two week-long trips, one focused on liberal arts and one focused on the sciences.
- More than 50 students participated in our summer enrichment programs. Twenty-five students participated in our Summer Writing & Theater Program, developing writing and communication skills, studying drama, seeing plays and attending our weeklong Summer College at Drew University. The program also included a class focused on the Verbal section of the SAT. Twenty-eight students participated in our Science and Technology Entry Program hosted by City College’s Grove School of Engineering, studying pre-calculus and biology, conducting lab experiments, attending college workshops, listening to guest speakers in the science, medicine and technology fields and taking part in paid internships at sites such as the South Street Seaport Wet Lab, Metropolitan Hospital, the Bronx Zoo, and LaGuardia Community College Technology Department.
- Twelve of our most hardworking program graduates received scholarships at our annual Scholarship Awards Ceremony. The evening was deeply moving as these young people spoke about how Union Settlement has opened doors to higher education and exciting futures as teachers, veterinarians, computer engineers, nurses, entrepreneurs and physicians. These graduates are now preparing for fall enrollment in such prestigious schools as St. Johns University, University of Rochester, SUNY-New Paltz, Trinity College, Utica College, Morgan State University and Mercy College. One student received a full scholarship to Trinity College through the Posse Foundation.
- Our separately-incorporated Union Settlement Federal Credit Union (USFCU) provided more than $1,045,076 in personal, business, home and educational loans to its members, helping 235 low-income community residents take steps toward achieving their dreams of opening or expanding an East Harlem business, purchasing their own home or attending college.
- USFCU raised awareness within the community through our Money $mart financial literacy workshop series for participants within the community and across our programs, including parents in our childcare program, senior center members, youth in our after-school programs and Adult Education students. In 2010, we held 26 workshops, serving 340 total participants. Offered in English and Spanish, they covered topics such as homeownership, improving credit, identity theft, debt and student loans. All participants are offered free credit reports and scores, and are linked to USFCU’s many services, including free tax preparation and one-on-one financial counseling to assist them in achieving their goals in these challenging economic times. In 2010, 145 people took advantage of this one-on-one counseling.
- We continue to reap the benefits of the new USCFU Visa Debit Card, launched July 2009. 2010 was our first full year with the card program in place, and checking account enrollment has increased by 85% and is still growing. Our members are benefitting from the freedom of managing their finances at our ATM machine, while avoiding the fees charged by some other banks.
- We again collaborated with the VITA Program to operate our free tax preparation service for community members. NYCfNAC successfully raised funds to support the program and volunteers were recruited and trained to assist community residents with their returns. We ordered supplies and publicized the service in both the USFCU newsletter and the Union Settlement newsletter, on the Union Settlement website and with flyers and posters distributed throughout the community. The project proved a major success—1,800 returns were prepared on site, resulting in $2.4 million in refunds for local residents.
- Union Settlement provided early childhood services to more than 500 East Harlem children-which is approximately one-sixth of the childcare provided in East Harlem-through our six Childcare/Head Start centers and our Family Childcare Network.
- We conducted NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene-funded asthma tracking and training activities in childcare and Head Start facilities throughout East and Central Harlem to combat high rates of pediatric asthma. As of May, we have already enrolled 5,924 children-already surpassing the 4,904 we enrolled in the entirety of last year-and provided asthma awareness training to 162 staff members and parents at 81 centers. This year our childcare centers celebrated World Asthma Day with a parade, a mass Zumba class, yoga, an obstacle course and a variety of other activities designed to encourage children to partake in healthy activities and to promote asthma awareness.
- Through our Family Childcare Network, 30 providers are caring for 120 children. The network trains qualified neighborhood residents to set up their own home-based childcare centers, alleviating East Harlem's childcare shortage and fostering financial self-sufficiency for the new providers. We are also providing nutritious meals and snacks for another 150 children in the network through our in-home food program.
- We continue to provide much-needed music education services through our Start the Music Program for children at our Franklin Plaza Head Start program and Metro North Childcare Center. Through our partnership with Opus 118 Music School, more than 60 children are enjoying playing instruments and singing with professional instructors.
- Because parent and community involvement are essential to child development, we conducted several events to raise community awareness about the importance of childcare in the face of government funding cuts, such as our annual parade in celebration of the Week of the Young Child in April. Over 300 children marched through East Harlem celebrating diversity and gathering in our community garden to sing "The World is a Rainbow." In an effort to combat diabetes and childhood obesity, our Head Start and childcare centers held our first ‘Family Fun in the Sun Day.” This event incorporated various physical activities and included parent participation.
- We're providing a vital new service to the parents we serve through a new partnership with Mount Sinai Medical School, which is providing medical students to conduct workshops on areas of need identified by parents. So far, topics have included asthma and childhood diseases, and this summer the students will be integrated into all of our centers to provide health, nutrition and exercise activities to over 400 children.
- This summer, we begin an exciting new partnership with Jumpstart, a national literacy program that will provide literacy activities in the classrooms at three of our sites, reaching more than 60 children. We plan to expand this program to all six of our sites by this fall.
- For almost 20 years, Union Settlement has led HIV CARE Networks, providing vital collaboration and information exchange between HIV/AIDS service providers across the city. Unfortunately, due to reductions in federal funding, as of December 2010 the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute eliminated all HIV Care Networks throughout New York State. We are proud to report, however, that we have managed to sustain many of the core functions of the Network. We have held nine Network meetings-averaging 45 participants each-and added an average of five new member organizations to the Network each month. We also expanded our e-group list from 220 to 250 members, visited a wide range of other programs, and expanded our relationships with other providers and other networks. We also led community presentations on housing and policy, access to clinical trials and mental health, and harm reduction for IV drug users.
- Though the CARE networks have been defunded, our role in the community is increasing. There are many services available for those living with HIV/AIDS in Manhattan, but access to these services can be challenging. Our many years of service in the HIV/AIDS community have made us a de facto clearinghouse for the dissemination of vital information for both front-line staff and those suffering from HIV/AIDS, including new treatments, counseling, testing, access to care and program contact information, This year, we averaged approximately 60 calls a week for such information.
- We hosted a kick-off event for National Latino AIDS Awareness Day. New York has one of the highest rates of Latinos living with HIV/AIDS in the nation and East Harlem houses the second highest rate of cumulative AIDS cases in NYC. More than 180 residents attended the program, which featured guest speakers from Harlem United, the Latino Commission on AIDS and the NYC Department of Health, MTV Tres as well as City Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito and Miss Dominican Republic. Free HIV testing was also available. Several community based organizations hosted tables packed with pamphlets, contact information and condoms.
- As need expands, we continue to add new events to our calendar. This year, we commemorated National Gay Men's AIDS Awareness Day in September with a conference attended by more than 90 participants and approximately 25 agencies. Several agencies and organizations, including the Office of the Manhattan District Attorney, brought information covering health, jobs, and other opportunities for gay men. Two panels were held: one on research and the science of HIV/AIDS prevention, the other on the psychosocial environment and its connection to the risk of HIV infection for gay men.
- As need grows, Union Settlement Home Care Services has proven an increasingly vital resource. Over the past year, we provided care for an average of 285 elderly or disabled clients, and a total of more than 340 patients have been served this year. Our aides provide basic health care and companionship and assistance with daily activities, such as bathing, grooming and toileting as well as help with cooking, cleaning and shopping, to enable patients to remain in their homes and avoid institutional care.
- We continue to refine our evaluative mechanisms to ensure that we are providing our frailest constituents, homebound seniors, with the best possible care. This year we added a comprehensive quality monitoring process that includes policy review, record review and analysis of incidents and grievances. The goal is to develop a comprehensive emergency preparedness plan for the agency and its patients.
- We provided valuable training opportunities to upgrade the skills of our paraprofessional workforce. Two hundred eighty-five of our 360 aides became certified home health aides in the past year, enabling them to work on cases requiring a higher level of care.
- Our workers continue to be recognized for their excellence of care. Debora Orr, who has been with the agency for seven years, was named one of the 2010 Home Attendants of the Year by the Home Care Council of New York City.
- We have strengthened our nursing services with the addition of a new nursing director. Thanks to this staffing change, field nurses are now able to make more home visits to provide supervision and guidance to our aides in improving overall basic health and well-being of the patients. This year, nurses provided 311 such visits, an increase of 146% over last year and a great service to our homebound clients.
- Our Mental Health Services program served 675 clients, an increase of 23% over last year. Approximately a quarter of our clients are ages 12 and under, with another 14% ages 13 to 20. Nearly 20% are over age 55.
- We continue to play an important role in meeting the underserved senior population in East Harlem. Our Senior Center Mental Health Program continued to bring bilingual social workers directly to our senior centers to conduct group and individual counseling designed to help members deal with issues related to aging, depression, anxiety, bereavement and death/dying. We currently treat 17 clients at our satellite clinic within Jefferson Senior Center and the balance at Johnson Counseling Center for a total of 123 area residents over the age of 55.
- Our broad range of therapeutic group services has proven a boon to our population. This past year, we offered four-week and six-week groups focused on topics such as Quitting Smoking, Take It Easy! Relaxation Techniques, Chronic Medical Conditions, Women With Depression and Parenting, groups for women over forty, men suffering from anxiety and/or depression, and People Living with HIV/AIDS who are suffering from depression This year, we established a new Spanish-speaking parenting group.
- In the past year, we have collaborated with a number of East Harlem childcare providers, including the Association to Benefit Children, Little Sisters of the Assumption and Northside Center, to ensure that children ages three and under in all of our programs receive screenings to identify who has been exposed to trauma and is in need of mental health services. We have screened all age-appropriate children in our Childcare Program.
- One of the largest providers of services to the elderly in East Harlem, this year we served almost 500 older adults at five senior centers with a wide range of activities including congregate lunches, recreational trips, exercise, health and nutritional workshops, arts and crafts and more. Our goal is to reduce feelings of isolation and encourage independent living.
- More important than ever, as senior hunger rates soar, we provided approximately 70,000 meals at our five centers and delivered more than 100,000 meals to our homebound clients. We also provided more than 3,000 hours of case assistance. Our staff and volunteers also devoted more than 1,000 hours to friendly visiting and made 2,300 telephone reassurance calls to area seniors.
- We continued our much-loved and sorely needed Dinner Project, which provides a supplemental sandwich and piece of fruit to our 300+ Meals on Wheels clients, many of whom were subsisting on one meal a day. Over the last year, we delivered 60,251 sandwiches. In our spring satisfaction survey, 93% of clients reported feeling "less hungry" thanks to the service, with 97% reporting "feeling healthier." Respondents made such comments as "I am grateful for the help and food your company provides me. I don't have to be hungry anymore"; and "I can't wait for you to come every day. God bless you all." Clients regularly report the project’s positive effects on their diabetes, weight and high blood pressure.
- We helped bridge the digital divide by providing computer classes to 40 East Harlem seniors. Led by a teacher from Older Adults Technology Services (OATS), we offered 10-week beginning and advanced classes in fall and winter. In the spring, OATS performed major technical renovations in our computer lab including upgraded computers donated by Macquarie Corp., printers and wiring. A group of seniors is continuing to enjoy and make use of Senior Planet, a digital community for older adults sponsored by OATS, including writing their own blogs on the site. Our seniors are gaining not only impressive skills but also a sense of empowerment and a feeling of connection to the changing world. Late last summer, we were able to make significant improvements to the physical space that houses our senior computer lab, including the addition of several new computers. The room now offers a dedicated, quieter space for seniors to use.
- Our city-contracted Senior Transportation Program provided approximately eight trips for a total of 45 East Harlem seniors every weekday. In addition to providing an array of individual and group recreational trips, the program enhances many aspects of our senior center programming, enabling us to take an average of 20 seniors twice a week to Asphalt Green health and fitness facility for exercise, five or six seniors to their employment or volunteer work sites, 100 seniors to the Farmer’s Market over the course of the summer and 200 seniors to our community garden for our four summer Friday Garden Parties. The program serves about 250 seniors and 15 senior centers in East Harlem and Central Harlem, including our five senior centers.
- Thanks to private support, we continue to expand our Seniors United to Serve Volunteer Program. We now have more than 185 volunteers providing 4,200 hours of service each month, with some months seeing as many as 4,700 hours of service. Across our five centers, they are packing meals and sandwiches, setting tables for lunch, planning trips and parties, refreshing center bathrooms, calling bingo numbers, and assisting in arts and crafts activities. Perhaps most importantly, they are visiting and calling our homebound and ill clients, providing a vital lifeline to the outside world. Our last volunteer survey, conducted this winter, showed encouraging results: 97% of respondents rated their volunteer experience positively, 70% said their quality of life had improved since they began volunteering in the program and 91% said they felt the experience had a positive impact on them. Write-in answers spoke to the deep sense of satisfaction, belonging and growth that the seniors gain from the program: "I have learned how to communicate with my peers"; "I've learned to understand different kinds of people"; "I teach and the other seniors teach me"; "It has allowed me to stay focused, motivated, and very much fulfilled and alive"; "I like working with seniors; they show you how to appreciate life's ups and downs." Perhaps the most poignant response was also the shortest: "I feel helpful."
- Through a grant from the Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, we hired a part-time Outreach Coordinator for all senior services programs. This valuable new staff member is helping to identify and implement outreach strategies for all our senior programs, and also performs targeted outreach in the community at such venues as our farmers market on East 104th street, at tenant association meetings in senior residential buildings in the neighborhood, and at churches, health fairs and other places where seniors typically gather. This grant has also enabled us to produce new outreach materials such as a brochure, signage, and banners.
- Last year, in collaboration with the Community Resource Exchange, we mounted a long-term planning study designed to refine Senior Services’ goals and objectives, and better align our programming with our participants’ needs. In response to the results of this study, we launched Café Gaylord in March of this year. Twice a week in our Gaylord White Senior Center, we serve a light, early supper to about 40 seniors, many of whom do not participate in our lunch nutrition program. The program also offers activities such as yoga, Zumba and other forms of exercise, films, beading and crafts, and socialization between the hours of 4 and 6 pm. Café Gaylord targets working seniors who are less likely to have a nutritious supper.
- We expanded and improved our regular exercise programs. In partnership with Asphalt Green Fitness Center, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to assisting individuals of all ages and backgrounds achieve health through sports and fitness, we are now providing two sessions of exercise (fall and spring) of about 12 – 15 weeks in length. We also continue to offer Walking Clubs during warm weather months and Staywell Exercise (a DFTA program lead by seniors) in the winter and on bad weather days. Yoga and Tai Chi have become staples with a trained leader, and video exercise using Wii and Zumba have gained popularity in Senior Center Groups. We are happy to report that there are more seniors participating in one or more of our exercise programs than ever before. We continue to make exercise and fitness a high priority, and our goal is to have every senior participate in some form of exercise at least weekly.
- Union Settlement’s Youth Empowerment Program (YEP), a three-year federally funded research project in partnership with Hunter College School of Social Work, has completed its second year. The program provides specialized, high-impact after school programming with a history of trauma and violence. Last year, we served 31 participants as they made the transition from middle school through their first year of high school. Services included weekly support groups, preventive workshops on health and disease, and a range of leadership and arts activities. As an additional academic support, YEP also provides tutoring, one-on-one mentoring and homework help for all students. Many of our participants have been exposed to disturbing acts of violence: 55% reported seeing someone beaten, shot at or threatened. A quarter reported seeing a family member being hit, punched or kicked very hard at home. A quarter also reported being beaten/shot at/threatened. To address the emotional needs of these students, our social worker and youth advocate provided regularly scheduled case management to all 31 of the participants and their families as well as more intense counseling and crisis intervention to 10 students. YEP staff attended 14 hours of professional development training on trauma and group work from faculty of Hunter College School of Social Work as well as a three-hour training on bullying provided by the Partnership is After School Education. Hunter also provided YEP with a Master’s in Social Work (MSW) intern for the 2010-2011 academic year. As a testament to the program’s success, YEP staff was also invited to present on our program and group work model to the International Association for the Advancement of Social Work with Groups annual symposium in June 2011.
- Union Settlement continues to make a difference among disconnected youth through Reconnect and Rise, a rigorous program of educational, vocational and support services designed to help young men ages 16 to 24 who have left or been pushed out of school and are struggling in the job market. In 2010–2011, we served 76 students, 50 of whom completed the full work-readiness component. We were also able to place 21 in internships or jobs.
- Our Healing Our Problems Early (HOPE) program provided sexual literacy programming to 150 middle school students, with 75 participants taking part in more comprehensive services, including our parental simulation module and Life Skills Workshops. Since launching the program in 2004, all participants have avoided pregnancy and remained in school. This past year, among those who completed last fall’s parental simulation module, 80% of males and 90% of females reported having conversations with their parents about sex and 85% reported feeling more comfortable dealing with peer pressure around sex.
- Last summer, we engaged 175 of our elementary age students in our highly successfully literacy-building Theme Teams program—multi-week learning projects organized around a specific theme. This past summer, students chose as their theme Giving Back: It’s Better to Give than Receive. Teams researched specific charities and explored ways to give back, through fundraising or community service. For example, some students volunteered at a local senior center, learning a dance to perform for the seniors; others donated their own clothes and toys to the Good Shepherd Foster Care Agency; one group put on a carnival as a fundraiser for their charity. We are proud of the academic successes of Theme Teams. Last summer, we administered pre- and post-tests measuring knowledge of charitable giving and the average score rose 19%. Before the program, 30% of students expressed that they enjoy reading and 65% of stated they would feel comfortable asking questions about words they don't understand when reading. After the program, these percentages rose to 65% and 85%, respectively. Most importantly, 82% of our students read at least one book, including 43% who read six or more books.
- We delivered services to 230 undercredited young people at Cascades High School, a transfer school in Lower Manhattan. Our Reaching for Tomorrow Program provides a comprehensive array of internships, job development, employability skills workshops, college exploration and career readiness services. In the 2010–2011 school year, we provided tutoring and Regents Exam prep to 230 youth. More than 300 students—almost twice last year’s figure—have engaged in internships, 20 received permanent employment upon graduation and 50 are still currently maintaining their employment. As of June, 175 students have received college advisement, and 195 have been exposed to CUNY, SUNY and private colleges and universities through college tours, college trips and college forums. Forty students have been accepted to various colleges, universities, or training programs which include: Tompkins Cortland Community College, Benedict College, New York College of Technology, Borough of Manhattan Community College, Medgar Evers College, LaGuardia Community College, Bronx Community College, Queensborough Community College, Kingsborough Community College, Cazenovia College, Brockport State University, Alfred State University, Hostos Community College, Wells College, Purchase College, Vaughn College of Technology and St John’s University.
- Student tutors from Drew University worked with 40 of our Bridges middle school students at our twice-monthly Saturday Academy for academic enrichment. Half of the students attended as needed for assistance with homework and exams, while the other half were a part of a new initiative that combined academic tutoring with a basketball and exercise program targeted academically at-risk students. The goal was to help them re-engage in the educational process and help them to avoid at risk behaviors.
- Our Union Works achievement program provided services to 102 academically struggling teens—almost double last year’s number—placing them in summer and/or part-time employment and career-building internships and providing ongoing mentorship and guidance. This summer we were able to place 78% (80 of 102) of our participants in summer jobs (as a basis for comparison, only 49% of youth nationwide were employed). Eighty-four percent (27 of 32) of our high school seniors graduated on time. Among those, an impressive 100% are now enrolled in post-secondary school.
- Eighty-five noncustodial fathers ages 16 to 24 participated in our Young Men on the Rise Program, which provides individual and family counseling, parent skills workshops, job readiness training and placement, visitation assistance/court advocacy, mentoring, conflict resolution training and life skills workshops. This is a high-risk population. Thanks to our services, all participants have contact with their child/children at least two to three times a week and 42% are now able to provide consistent financial provision for their children. Twenty-seven fathers are now actively interviewing for full-time jobs and 31—twice the number from last year—have acquired long term or temporary employment with restaurants, security firms, maintenance departments and other businesses. Thirty have enrolled in pre-GED classes.
- This year, we have formed a key partnership with STRIVE NYC on a Workforce Development Program, providing GED prep classes, case management and educational counseling to 27 disconnected youth who are receiving job training in green industries through STRIVE. Of the 12 students in the GED class, 83% completed the class, 80% of those made sufficient progress to take the exam. So far four have passed the exam, and two are in the process of taking the exam again. At the beginning of the program, only 30% of students scored above 9th grade in Math, and by the end that rate doubled to 60%. Ninety percent of students scored 1.5 grades higher in either Reading or Math after 100 hours of instruction. Fifty-five percent scored 3.0 grades higher in either Reading or Math. To date, 50% of students who took the GED exam passed, and we expect that number to grow. Due to the success of our program, STRIVE has asked us to provide tutoring services to an additional 15 young adults who already had their high school diploma or GED, but who were still deficient in basic English and/or Math. We are now serving these students, and STRIVE is looking to double the number of Disconnected Youth to be served during a 20-week session beginning this fall.
- We have just launched the East Harlem Teen Health Project, a State Department of Health-supported initiative to provide comprehensive services for the prevention of pregnancy and promotion of sexual health among adolescents age 10 to 21 years of age, including a cohort of 96 middle schoolers. The goals, which correlate strongly with the Teen ACTION Program, will be to promote healthy sexual behaviors and reduce the practice of risky sexual behaviors; ensure access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare and family planning services; provide support and alternatives to sexual activity, including a service learning component in which participants form a Teen Council in order develop a coordinated community plan to reduce teen pregnancy, STIs and HIV/AIDS rates in East Harlem. Our program coordinator for the this project has been appointed to lead the Community Advisory Council for East Harlem, Harlem and Washington Heights, a network of community partners including Planned Parenthood of New York, Mount Sinai Hospital, Safe Horizon, the Children’s Aid Society, Urban Health Plan, Harlem Hospital, Community Health Care Network, The Door, the Hetrick-Martin Institute and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
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