News and Resources

Rally-goers urge City Hall to boost budget for summer programs for kids

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Nearly 400 parents, advocates and city kids rallied on the steps of City Hall Monday to urge Mayor de Blasio to include $20 million for summer-enrichment programs in his upcoming executive budget.

The cash would be used for summer camps and classes for 31,000 city middle school students starting in July. De Blasio is expected to unveil his executive budget Tuesday.

The city funded the programs last year due to an administrative error that threatened the programs run by dozens of community organizations

This go-round, the funding was removed from the budget.

City officials said they had announced last year that additional seats would only be funded for a year, giving parents and providers plenty of notice to find other resources.

United Neighborhood Houses director Gregory Brender said kids need the programs.

“Summer programs are essential in providing children a safe place to go,” said Gregory Brender, director of United Neighborhood Houses. “Time is running out to make certain that the needs of our children are met.”


Budget Dance Back With Summer Camp Cuts

Friday, April 15, 2016


Staff Writer

Children overflowed the steps of the Parsons Community School in Kew Gardens Hills on Monday to protest cuts to funding for summer programming in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s preliminary budget.

The students held signs with slogans like “bring back the sun for kids,” and “save our summer camp,” accompanied by drawings of waves, sun and puffy clouds. They chanted, “save our summer!” enthusiastically when prompted by Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest), who organized the protest.

“Education and getting our kids ready for the future is a lot more than just 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday to Friday, September through June,” Lancman said.

Middle School students like Nyla, treasurer of the Parson’s Youth Council, spoke in favor of the camp too.

“Instead of wasting the days of summer vacation away, [students] could be able to do fun things, like dance, arts and crafts, video games, board games and sports,” she said.

If the cuts go through, 31,000 middle schoolers across the city could lose their slot at summer camp, Lancman said.
Affected programs range the gamut from facilitating STEM learning to literacy, leadership, college prep, mentoring, sports and the arts.

Many education advocates argue that it’s vital to keep students physically and academically active during the summer. Studies have shown that children can lose up to two grade levels during the summer months, and those at risk of obesity tend to gain more weight when they are not in school.

Gregory Brender, co-director of policy and advocacy for the Campaign for Children, said his organization found that 20 percent of parents would have to quit their job and 17 percent would have to leave their kids alone if they did not have access to summer childcare provided in part by the camps. The camps programs operate five days a week, 10 hours a day for seven weeks.

Controversy over summer program funding began last year. Some providers and parents reacted with shock and protests because non-profits were awarded city grants for summer programming in March before having their funding unexpectedly rescinded six weeks later.

After some controversy and heated discussions in the city council, de Blasio restored the funding in the executive budget. But he said he was only doing so to avoid creating problems for parents after the grant awards had been sent out in error.

“After hearing from parents and kids, we’re pleased to announce that the administration will fund the full 34,000 middle school seats for this upcoming summer, for this year only – so that families and providers are not left hanging,” the Mayor announced in May last year.

De Blasio himself had increased the number of seats for summer programs from 17,000 to 34,000 in 2014, and he had sought to bring the funding back to its original lower level.

He said he wanted to redirect the funding toward low-performing renewal schools instead.

However, Lancman said he was confident that the City Council would block the cuts again this year.

“Now we have what is becoming an annual ritual,” Lancman said. “Kids, parents, they should not be pawns in the Mayor’s annual budget dance.”

But even if the funding is restored again, the uncertainty will take a toll on parents and providers, Oswald Araujo, Director of the Child Center of New York Parsons Beacon Program, said.

Araujo said that after the funding was unexpectedly cut last year, “Parents had to find whatever alternative arrangements they could.”

“It’s very hard for us to put together a quality program on such late notice,” he added.

Ryan Mitchell, a program director for New York Junior Tennis League “Aces Club” at PS 219 said his program was at risk of losing all 80 spots this summer– as they had been last year.

Thought they did get to go forward with the program last year, Mitchell said the last-minute go-ahead resulted in a lower enrollment.

Reach Lynn Edmonds at (718) 357-7400 x127, or @Ellinoamerikana

Advocates rally at City Hall for $20M for summer programs

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

More than 100 advocates and city kids rallied on the steps of City Hall on Tuesday to urge Mayor de Blasio to include $20 million for summer-enrichment programs in his executive budget.

The money would be used for summer camps and classes for 31,000 city middle school kids starting in July.

De Blasio funded the programs last year due to an administrative error in which dozens of community-based organizations that administer the programs were promised the money. But this year, the cash spigot is turned off.

“The need for a safe, enriching place to go where children can thrive does not end when the school year is over,” said United Neighborhood Houses director Gregory Brender.

Mayor de Blasio urged to boost funds for adult literacy at City Hall rally

Friday, April 08, 2016

Dozens of students and activists rallied outside City Hall Thursday to demand Mayor de Blasio hike funding for adult literacy in the upcoming budget.

They want $16 million set aside for classes for people who lack English proficiency or a high school diploma, enough to give the lessons to 13,000 New Yorkers.

This includes restoring programs that lost over 6,300 adult literacy seats during last year’s budget.

“Allowing adults the opportunity to learn is great for our city,” said Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “If an individual learns English, they can communicate with their neighbors, help their children with their homework, get a better job, and call 911 without fear if they’re in trouble.”

Xiu Wen Ou, who is learning English in the Educational Alliance College Access and Success Program, said she hopes to continue her English studies and "give back to this great country."

“It makes me sad to think I may not have an opportunity to do so,” she said.

De Blasio spokeswoman Rosemary Boeglin said city agencies are working on a plan to strengthen adult literacy programming.

“The de Blasio Administration has made unprecedented investments to support New York City’s immigrant communities," she said. "We look forward to working with the Council throughout the budget process."

Students Urge $16 million Investment in Adult Literacy Services

Friday, April 08, 2016

Adult literacy students and advocates gathered on the City Hall steps in the rain and wind to encourage Mayor de Blasio to invest $16 million in adult literacy services. Hundreds of other students waited outside of security, but were unfortunately turned away. Students thanked the Mayor for his leadership in pioneering social inclusion for immigrants through programs such as IDNYC and ActionNYC and urged him to build on this legacy and create comprehensive adult literacy program for the 1.7 million adult New Yorkers currently lacking English proficiency and/or a high school diploma. Literacy programs are the pathway to economic mobility, social integration, parent-child engagement, improved health outcomes and improved community safety. Advocates said that strengthening adult literacy programs and building a well-coordinated adult literacy system offers the Mayor a unique opportunity to continue his progress in fighting inequality, improving our workforce, and ensuring long-term success for universal pre-Kindergarten.

Council Member Carlos Menchaca began with rally with a call for inclusion. “The full potential of New York City’s immigrant communities will not be unlocked until we ensure everyone has at least basic literacy skills. Service providers throughout the City need a renewed and expanded financial commitment from this City Council and the Administration. I stand with all immigrant New Yorkers and their advocates calling for adequate funding and support for adult literacy.” 

Council Member Julissa Ferreras- Copeland, Chair of the Finance Committee, offered her support for a $16 million investment adult literacy. “Adult literacy funding is a priority for myself and many other Councilmembers. Our Budget Response called for a $16 million investment this fiscal year. These critical services like ESL classes lead to better paying jobs and improved communication with teachers and doctors, among many other benefits. There is an overwhelming need and an already established infrastructure to deliver these services, if the City is able to provide resources. I applaud Councilmember Menchaca, other councilmembers, and all the organizations lifting their voices to show how essential this is to addressing inequality.” 

Greenline: Let's Not Lose The Best

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Did you know that providers of high-quality education to low-income children earn far less than those at DOE programs. To get the word out elected officials and 150 advocates called for salary parity for NYC early childhood educators on the steps of City Hall.

CBO-based educators, who serve children in some of NYC’s most vulnerable communities, have gone a decade without a raise, and many are forced to rely on public assistance to survive. A certified teacher with five years of experience in a community based organization contracted by the city’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) makes about $17K less than a public school teacher with the same credentials and experience, for those with ten years of experience the gap widens to $34K.

If you wonder whether the quality of education is a factor here, it is but not in the opposite way one would think. Gregory Brender, co-director of Policy & Advocacy at United Neighborhood Houses, unleashed a new report, titled “Losing the Best,” which was developed by his organization and the Campaign for Children. This report uses the City’s own Pre-K program assessment from December 2015 to determine that community based organizations outperform public schools in nine out of ten metrics that indicate high-quality programs. Language reasoning, program structure, classroom organization, and institutional support were among the areas where CBO-based programs exceeded.

Council Member Stephen Levin urged Mayor de Blasio to, “take swift action to ensure salary parity and comparable benefits for all of the dedicated public servants working in early childhood education. This common sense step will make it easier for programs to attract and retain the outstanding educators we need and ultimately lead to better programs for our children.”

Public Advocate Letitia James mentioned her repeated attempts to call this issue to the de Blasio administration’s attention. She also stated, “Such a pay disparity creates systemic inequality that leaves New York’s poorest preschoolers with the lowest paid child care workers and prevents these care takers from affording basic life necessities.”

Read the entire article here.