News and Resources

UNH on BronxTalk

Monday, June 13, 2016




UNH Co-Director of Policy and Advocacy was featured on BronxTalk along with our report, “Losing the Best.”

Watch the video here: http://www.bronxnet.org/tv/bronxtalk/7538-bronxtalk-june-6-2016

Are New York's Community Schools at Risk?

Monday, June 13, 2016




UNH Policy Analyst Andrea Bowen was recently on BRIC Live to talk about Community Schools. Watch the video below and visit BRIC Live at http://bkindiemedia.bricartsmedia.org/category/bklive/

NYN Media Podcast: Surveying the nonprofit operating landscape

Friday, June 10, 2016


UNH Executive Director Susan Stamler was interviewed for City and State's podcast along with Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s former deputy mayor of health and human services; Jeremy Kohomban, executive director of Children’s Village, which serves struggling families throughout Southern New York state; and Lew Zuchman, executive director of SCAN NY, which serves high-risk families in East Harlem and the South Bronx.

To listen to the full podcast, click here.

Excerpts:

Susan: "The first thing to keep in mind is that government often talks about being a partner with the nonprofit community but it’s really no way to treat a partner if you expect them to fully provide a service and yet you only pay part of the funding. So the first thing that needs to happen is to rebalance the relationship and recognize that we’re actually more than partners – we’re the reason why the City functions. The first thing to do is looking at the risk relationship and the answer is very simple – just pay the full cost. Pay what it costs to not only run the program adequately but making sure that the sector that is delivering is able to do so and not go bankrupt."

Lilliam: "The City essentially has delegated to the not-for-profit world the actual delivery of services. So it’s even beyond a partnership. The not-for-profit world is the service delivery arm of government. So it needs to be funded that way."

Susan: "It’s not a level playing field whereby people say, “here’s the problem let’s get the best possible thinkers around the table with this pot of money and figure out how to get there.” Rather we find ourselves playing this bizarre game of very complex systems to have a delivery system that looks at dollars that doesn’t always look at neighborhoods and doesn’t always measure the same kinds of outcomes we might think needs to happen to get you to the best place."

Susan: "It’s important to recognize that philanthropic dollars could never supplant government dollars. Period. That’s important to say again and again. I think that philanthropy has an important role to play but it should not be to bail out the government and help the government fund what they want to fund. Because every time there’s a program that requires a match they’re basically picking the pockets of private foundations. So whereas in the past foundation funding would go to be innovative, would be as people would call the icing on the cake. Now it’s the lights in your office. So that whole formula is not working. And my favorite little pet peeve is that every government agency has a 501c3. I unfortunately cannot collect taxes. I have to rely on foundations. I’m just shocked that government can easily go to the same funders that support nonprofits and ask for money – the money that should be going to the human services not for profit community. That to me is completely shocking."




UNH Statement on the Adopted Budget

Thursday, June 09, 2016



United Neighborhood Houses applauds the City Council and Mayor de Blasio for an early budget agreement that makes significant improvements in services for New York City’s neighborhoods. Yesterday’s agreement takes important steps to expand access to core social services and reverse cuts for programs serving low-income New Yorkers.

Youth Employment

We are thrilled that City Council leadership supported UNH’s recommendations in our report, “Summer Jobs for NYC’s Youth: A Plan for Expanding NYC’s Summer Youth Employment Program to Meet Demand by FY 2019.” In this budget, the City will expand SYEP and lay the groundwork for future expansion to serve 100,000 young people by the summer of 2018. The administration has baselined $38.5 million, which brings the total number of SYEP slots to 60,000 this summer—the largest investment in SYEP ever made by the City.

United Neighborhood Houses is also pleased to see a continued investment in Work, Learn & Grow, an innovative year-round youth employment program for 14-24 year olds.

Youth Services

We are greatly relieved that the City Council has restored summer camp for 26,000 middle school students. Without this needed restoration, thousands of children would have missed out on summer learning opportunities and would have been without the safe and enriching experiences their summer camps provide.

Many families face long waitlists when applying for after-school programs for their elementary school children. We commend the City Council for expanding access to year-round elementary after-school programs. We will continue to work with the City Council and the Administration in the coming year to achieve greater stability for and access to after-school programs.

Adult Literacy

We are very pleased that, thanks to the leadership of City Council, the budget agreement contains a $12 million investment in community-based adult literacy services. This funding is an important down-payment toward guaranteeing universal access to adult literacy programs for the 2.2 million New Yorkers lacking English proficiency and/or a high school diploma.

Older Adult Services

The baselining of $1.8 million to address case management waitlists is a step toward stability for older adult service providers. However, older adults deserve more security for the programs in their neighborhoods. The City relies too heavily on one-year allocations from the City Council instead of baselining investments for programs like senior centers and Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities. We call on the City to recognize the value and importance of older adults in every aspect of City life. We must invest in and plan for New York City to be a good place to grow old.

Mental Health Services

While we won’t know the status of several initiatives until the formal adoption of the budget, United Neighborhood Houses urges the City Council to restore the Geriatric Mental Health Initiative, Children Under Five Mental Health Initiative, and Autism Awareness Initiative. Without these restorations, many neighborhoods will lose longstanding quality programs community members have come to trust and depend upon.

Early Childhood Education

It is not yet clear the level of funding this budget makes available for salaries for early childhood educators in community-based organizations. However, the City must, in this budget, take action to achieve parity between the teachers, staff and directors in community-based early childhood education programs and their counterparts in Department of Education. The programs which most effectively educate the youngest New Yorkers are struggling to retain staff who cannot afford to live on inadequate salaries.

Quality of pre-K varies in New York, data shows

Monday, June 06, 2016


UNH's report "Losing the Best" is mentioned in a recent Hechinger Report story. Read the story here: http://hechingerreport.org/quality-pre-k-varies-new-york-data-shows/

City Summer Jobs Programs Are a Key Front in the Fight Against Anti-LGBTQ Discrimination

Friday, June 03, 2016


by Andy Bowen, UNH Policy Analyst

New York City is nearing the conclusion of its budget season, and the city council has made its priorities very clear: Members want
substantial new investments in youth employment programs, especially the Summer Youth Employment Program, which offers government-subsidized summer jobs for 14- to 24-year-olds.

This is good news for all the city’s young people, but it is especially important for LGBTQ youth.

First, about me: I am a policy analyst at United Neighborhood Houses, the member organization of New York City settlement houses, which provide social services to more than a half-million New Yorkers of all ages in the five boroughs. Part of UNH’s work is advocating for funding streams that our members use to benefit their communities. I specifically advocate for increased investment and programmatic improvements in SYEP, which is administered by several UNH members.

I am also a transgender woman, and I am happy to see programs that benefit my community.

The need for expansion of youth employment programs is enormous. On the broadest, non-LGBTQ-specific level, more than 110,000 youth applied to SYEP in 2015. That year, a record year for city investment in the program, funding was available for 54,263 young people to have a paid summer job, which means that fewer than half of the kids who applied for a city summer job were able to get one. There is clearly a ways to go in funding a job for every youth who wants one. Then again, the city council has made funding youth employment a top priority, and, as I recently argued in a report, there are practical administrative steps that can be taken in the coming months to ensure SYEP meets demand.

From the LGBTQ perspective, a recent survey report—which, full disclosure, happens to have been researched and co-authored by my spouse—showed that 42.2 percent of transgender respondents across New York state reported not being hired because of their gender identity or expression. In another study featuring controlled experiments where some job applicants indicated they were lesbian, gay, or bisexual and others did not, outcomes revealed evidence of sexual orientation discrimination in the hiring process.

This problem feeds on itself, of course. Lack of work experience makes it harder to get future jobs. If employers are more willing to discriminate against people for being LGBTQ during the hiring process, those negatively impacted by these biases need a way for public policy to circumvent such discrimination. But how do you stop an interviewer from exercising, however discreetly, their discriminatory behavior?

There’s a relatively easy answer to that dilemma, and it’s something that policymakers in New York City are pushing for on the youth level: Provide a job to every youth who wants one.

Most of the youth who participate in SYEP do not have to go through an interview process. They apply to the program, and they’re placed into a job by one of the community-based organizations that administer SYEP. (There’s a small component of the program that involves a competitive application and interview process, but that served only about 2 percent of last year’s participants.) That means one route by which potentially discriminatory employers may “read” a youth as LGBTQ and not hire them—the interview process—is eliminated.

The government agency that oversees SYEP and other youth employment programs, the Department of Youth and Community Development, is very direct about its LGBTQ equality mission. The agency has been actively recruiting for its youth employment programs at LGBTQ resource fairs across the city. DYCD demands LGBTQ sensitivity from the contractors, frequently referred to as “providers,” who place youth in jobs. Specifically with SYEP, DYCD requires that providers should “be sensitive to participants’ cultural heritages and traditions, life experiences, sexual orientations, and gender identities.”

DYCD has arranged for the Hetrick-Martin Institute, an agency serving LGBTQ youth, to conduct trainings for SYEP providers on working with LGBTQ youth. The trainings are meant to address how to respectfully work with LGBTQ youth at every point in the SYEP process.

But there also are much deeper protections for LGBTQ youth built into youth employment systems. Nonprofit providers of employment programs recruit youth employees and worksites, but they can also act as troubleshooters when worksites don’t quite understand how to relate to young LGBTQ people, or when young LGBTQ people face problems in figuring out how to represent their sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace.

Reshard Riggins, director of career services at The Door, a nonprofit youth development organization, said she has given guidance to employers on the complexities of gender identity. The Door is not an SYEP provider, but it is a provider of several DYCD youth employment programs, and it has deep credibility in the LGBTQ community. Riggins advises companies “to be respectful and mindful inasmuch as if the person comes in and they’re identifying as a female, and one day they’re dressed a little more typically male, you still have to address them as female, because that’s the pronoun they prefer. They have to be mindful and respectful of pronouns in this day and age.”

While a company might have a nondiscrimination policy regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, staff may be resistant to new LGBTQ hires. This is where nonprofit organizations working in youth development, like The Door, are particularly helpful. An agency like The Door works informally, and formally—through their Professional Training Institute—to train community members to understand people who are LGBTQ or gender-nonconforming.

As Riggins said, “Our Career and Education Services Department takes a multi-level approach to addressing and helping prevent any uncomfortable situations that may arise by leveraging our employer relationships to train their staff at the front end, and by simultaneously teaching our young people to be strong advocates for themselves, including how to navigate potentially difficult situations in the workplace.”

Baldino Baldeo is a bisexual-identified high-school student who, as part of the Citizens’ Committee for Children’s YouthAction program and Project Reach, a program of New York’s Chinese-American Planning Council that organizes youth to end discrimination across institutions, has been a vocal supporter of expanding SYEP and safe spaces for LGBTQ youth. He participated in an SYEP lobbying day in Albany, the state capital, and testified on the importance of expanding SYEP to the New York City Council. He has also taken part in anti-discrimination trainings.

The connection between LGBTQ justice and SYEP is obvious for Baldeo. “SYEP is amazing for LGBTQ youth, because it gives the opportunity for people to be themselves and still be in a professional environment,” he said. “You can make your own money as the person you really are.”

The New York City Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio are currently finalizing the city budget. There is unprecedented energy among council members to expand SYEP to meet demand, and there are clear steps the city can take, such as funding the program to support 60,000 jobs this summer and funding providers to cultivate new worksites in the fall and winter, which will move the program toward meeting the goal of serving 100,000 youth by the summer of 2018.

There is also energy to create a year-round employment program, which could similarly lower barriers for LGBTQ youth attaining and retaining jobs. These programs support all city youth, and they improve the chances for LGBTQ youth to avoid discrimination and achieve economic justice. We have real opportunities to create and expand job programs for our young people. Every city—including New York as it finalizes its budget—should take them.

Andrea Majanik Bowen is an activist and social worker. She was formerly the executive director of Garden State Equality, New Jersey's statewide civil rights advocacy and education organization for the LGBT community. She is a transgender woman, and however improbably has a Masters of Social Work from Catholic University of America, because identity is complicated.