News & Resources

News and Resources

It Could Be You: Documentary Makes Poverty Relatable

Thursday, October 16, 2014


On Octber 7, UNH, with the Graduate School of Social Service (GSS) and the College of Mount Saint Vincent, sponsored a screening of American Winter and a community forum, titled “Thawing of the American Dream.” Broadcast journalist Hugh Hamilton moderated the panel discussion. 

Panelist Ken Walters, Director of Members Services at United Neighborhood Houses of New York, said that his organization doesn’t approach his the poor as “clients” but as partners in an effort to engage leadership through advocacy, like testifying at city hall. He said that even the most hard-nosed politician would find it difficult not to be moved by face-to-face encounters. 

Read more about the event here. 


There's Still Time to Enroll Your 4-year-old in Pre-K This Fall

Friday, October 10, 2014
 

It's not too late for parents to enroll their 4-year-olds in free full day pre-K programs at public schools or nonprofits for this school year.The de Blasio administration — whose ambitious pre-K expansion aims to draw 53,000 kids this year — is letting centers continue enrolling kids past the traditional Oct. 1 deadline because there are still scores of open seats.

"We think the extension is a prudent decision given that this is the first year of this large expansion, and we want to ensure that every family has the opportunity to enroll their child in a program that fits their family's needs," said Gregory Brender, a policy director at United Neighborhood Houses, an umbrella group for the city's settlement houses, many of which offer pre-K programs.

Read the full article here. 

First Day at City Schools Has Smooth Start

Friday, September 05, 2014


More than 1 million kids turned out for classes Thursday, with more than 51,000 kids coming to the city’s newly established universal prekindergarten programs. Advocates praised the city for an orderly first day of school. “Today’s first day of pre-K was a huge success,” the Campaign for Children said in a statement. “This is a momentous achievement for the children and families of New York.”

Read the full article here.


Famed Chef Marcus Samuelsson Visits Citi Field

Thursday, July 31, 2014
New York Sportscene
Citi held its third Citi Kids event of the 2014 season at Citi Field on Wednesday with celebrity chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson. He spoke  to 150 students from United Neighborhood Houses  and Jackie Robinson foundation scholars about his personal life story, before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, prior to the Mets taking on the Philadelphia Phillies.

Read the full article here. 

Advocates Argue Advantage Awards Reveal Need for More Funding

Thursday, July 24, 2014
Advocates used Governor Cuomo's announcement last week of $10.9 million in grants for Advantage After School Programs as an opportunity to point out that funding for these and other youth programs has actually declined in recent years and that the awards themselves demonstrate the need for additional investments in these types of programming.

The New York State Afterschool Network (NYSAN) noted that the FY2014-15 state budget included $17.7 million for Advantage. This was down 37% from the $28 million which had been allocated to the program annually prior to the ecomic crisis and subsequent recession.  The loss in funding has cost almost 8,000 students the opportunity to participate in programs. Overall, funding for New York’s three major afterschool funding streams remains 40% below pre-recession levels.

Only 68 of 281 applicants for the latest round of Advantage After School funding actually received grants—fewer than a quarter of the applicants. Several programs that had been receiving funds were cut, which will leave them struggling to still serve students.

"There are a lot of programs that used to be there for students that aren't operating anymore," agrees Gregory Brender, Policy Analyst with United Neighborhood Houses.

Governor Cuomo proposed $160 million in new afterschool funding in the FY2014-15 executive budget, which would have created opportunities for more than 100,000 students. That funding was not included in the final budget.  NYSAN says this was a huge missed opportunity to provide new options for some of the 1.1 million students in need of a safe, educational place to go after the school day ends—and for their families, too many of whom face painful choices when they cannot afford safe afterschool options.

Read the full article here. 

The Summer Surge: Mayor Sends in Services to Keep City Safe

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

 
Last week, the de Blasio administration announced a $210.5 million comprehensive, citywide plan to make the City’s neighborhoods safer and reduce violent crime in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments.  While the bulk of the overall investment consists of funding for repairs, maintenance and physical improvements to enhance security at NYCHA buildings – as well as redeployment of 200 Police Officers -- the new initiative also includes a $15.6 million allocation of new funding to expand community center activities and other key programs in NYCHA projects this summer.

“Mayor de Blasio’s plan to increase public safety in NYCHA developments presents a meaningful and progressive response to one of the City's most challenging problems,” said Nancy Wackstein, Executive Director of United Neighborhood Houses (UNH). “This plan depends heavily on community-based organizations including the settlement houses who are members of United Neighborhood Houses.  The Mayor’s plan to expand nighttime and weekend youth programs and Summer Youth Employment slots will make a difference for thousands of young people.”

“The Campaign for Summer Jobs applauds Mayor de Blasio’s announcement of 850 new SYEP slots this summer for young people in public housing,” said Gigi Li of the Neighborhood Family Services Coalition and Gregory Brender of UNH, co-chairs of Campaign for Summer Jobs.  “These jobs will give valuable work experience and a paycheck to young people throughout the City…  We are thrilled that more young people will have this opportunity.”

Read the full article to see the response of UNH and partner organizations. 

Engaging Communities for Better Health

Wednesday, July 02, 2014
NRC Workshop Feature: Engaging Communities for Better Health

The following post was written by Kendall Reingold, summer intern for the Alliance for Children and Families Center for Engagement and Neighborhood Building.  She is an undergraduate student who has been assisting with the planning of the 2014 Neighborhood Revitalization Conference.
 
The 2014 Neighborhood Revitalization Conference is proud to present a workshop that will provide an inside look at successful strategies to engage community members in improving their own health and wellness.  Featuring speakers from two Alliance member organizations, United Neighborhood Houses of New York and the Gary Comer Youth Center, as well as Aramark, an Alliance partner, the workshop offers three unique perspectives.
 
Jerica Broeckling, Program Manager of the Aramark Building Communities program at the Alliance for Children and Families will facilitate the workshop, entitled: “Using Authentic Engagement to Improve Health Outcomes.”  The panel will include Terry Kaelber, Director of Community Engagement Projects at United Neighborhood Houses of New York; Ayoka Samuels, Senior Program Director at the Gary Comer Youth Center; and Michelle Jordan, Director of Community Relations at Aramark. 
 
The presenters are committed to the importance of authentic engagement strategies.  Mr. Kaelber explains, “Working to increase access to and use of healthy food often involves changing individual eating habits.  Social norms drive eating habits and can be the doorway to changing individual behaviors.   To impact social norms, a level of deep community engagement is needed.”  For Kaelber, this means “projects must be driven and led by local residents, who are involved at the earliest points of idea generation and planning, are invested in through skill building and training opportunities, and who become partners and leaders throughout implementation and evaluation.  Such approaches are built upon relationships and a commitment to partnering, both of which take time and tremendous effort, but the rewards and impact can be significant and long-lasting.”
 
Authentic engagement is a longstanding principle of community-based organizations, although the term itself is relatively new to the lexicon.  This workshop is sure to help your organization realize its potential for positive authentic engagement outcomes.  Register for the conference online to attend this workshop, which will take place on Thursday, July 24th, the first day of the conference.
 
Early bird registration for the Neighborhood Revitalization Conference in D.C. is available online until July 7.  For the latest details about the conference and these presenters, stay tuned on Twitter.  Follow UNHNY, Aramark, the Gary Comer Youth Center, and the Alliance’s Center for Engagement and Neighborhood Building, and keep up with conference news using the hashtag #NRC14.

UNH's Full Statement on the NYC FY 2015 Budget Agreement

Thursday, June 26, 2014

UNH Statement on the NYC FY 2015 Budget Agreement

On Thursday night, Mayor de Blasio and the New York City Council reached an agreement for the FY 2015 budget beginning July 1st.  The budget agreement represents the achievement of several long-term goals of United Neighborhood Houses and shows directions we will move in order to better serve New York City’s neighborhoods.

Early Childhood Education and After-School

UNH member agencies are among the highest quality providers of early childhood education and after-school in New York City and have for the last several years been working through Campaign for Children to ensure that every child in New York City has access to high quality early childhood education and after-school programs.  The FY 2015 budget represents a historic expansion of these services.

In FY 2015, New York City will implement Mayor de Blasio’s visionary plan to offer an after-school slot to every middle school student who wants one.  This will entail a 76% increase in the number of middle school after-school slots to 79,600.  Recently, New York City has selected 271 middle schools that will have new after-school programs, including 43 programs that will be operated by UNH member agencies.

Over the next two years, New York City will expand its Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) program for 4-year-olds so that Universal Pre-Kindergarten programs can live up to its name and be truly universal.  UNH members will also play a huge role in this expansion offering both UPK programs and a broad range of comprehensive early childhood services.

However, this budget misses the crucial opportunity to stabilize New York City’s early childhood system by investing in equitable salaries for early childhood educators.  With the implementation of UPK for 4-year-olds, teachers of 4-year-olds will receive higher salaries than similarly qualified teachers teaching children 0-3.  This may lead to teachers opting out of serving younger children and destabilize the early childhood system.  UNH urges the City to fund community-based organizations to provide equitable salaries to all early childhood educators before the implementation of UPK in September.

Summer Jobs for Teenagers

For the past 15 years, UNH has co-led the Campaign for Summer Jobs with Neighborhood Family Services Coalition.  Campaign for Summer Jobs has fought successfully at both the City and State levels to maintain subsidized summer jobs for New York’s teenagers through the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP).  However, due to lack of funding, most teenagers who apply for a summer job do not get one.  Young people must literally win a lottery to get this crucial work experience.   In most years, nearly 100,000 young people apply for and are turned away from a summer job.

Campaign for Summer Jobs has begun a multi-year campaign to reduce youth unemployment through investment in SYEP.  Campaign for Summer Jobs is calling for 100,000 summer jobs in five years.

Campaign for Summer Jobs is off to a strong start in its new campaign with the FY 2015 budget.  Thanks to a new investment of $15.2 million from the City Council, this summer, the number of summer jobs will increase by 10,700, dramatically expanding the number of young people who participate.

School Lunches

UNH and many of its member agencies are engaged in the Lunch 4 Learning a campaign to offer free, universal school lunch in New York City public schools.  Lunch 4 Learning recognizes that when children and youth have a nutritious meal they are better equipped to concentrate and succeed in school.  The campaign also recognizes that there is often a regrettable social stigma attached to receiving a free school lunch because of its association with poverty.  In other cities across the country, and in New York State, the adoption of free, universal school lunch has increased participation in the school lunch program significantly. By offering free, universal school lunch, New York City can ensure that every student, regardless of family income, can have a nutritious lunch without stigma.

The FY 2015 budget starts off Lunch 4 Learning by offering free, universal school lunch in middle schools.  We believe that the implementation of this program will not only benefit 170,000 middle school students and their families, but will be an effective demonstration of the value of free, universal school lunch so that New York City can move toward expanding it to all students. 

Services for Older Adults

A majority of UNH’s members offer programs for older adults, spanning a range of services and activities that enable them to age in place and continue to thrive in their communities. Starting with the baselining of many of these services at last year’s levels, and extending to the additional investments in meals and case management that were added in the Executive Budget, we are encouraged by the recognition of the growing older adult population, and the acknowledgement of the need for new investment in this area following a decade of cuts. We will continue to work toward securing the funds community-based organizations need to provide the whole spectrum of services to older adults.

Adult Literacy

UNH has been a longtime leader in the New York City Coalition for Adult Literacy (NYCCAL) as both a member of the steering committee and advocacy committee. NYCCAL has played a key role in shaping New York State’s response to the new high school equivalency (HSE) examination, and, in the City, has led the charge to secure additional resources to meet the challenges associated with the introduction of the Common Core.

In an attempt to reverse the trend of declining investment in community-based literacy services over the past decade, NYCCAL recruited new Council allies and fought to expand the City Council’s adult literacy initiative. The initiative funds critical Adult Basic Education (ABE), English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), and High School Equivalency (HSE) preparation classes. As a result of these efforts, the initiative was expanded for the first time since its inception, and hundreds of additional immigrants and adult learners will be able to improve their English literacy and/or study to earn their HSE diploma

Big Dreams for New York's Youngest Children: The future of early care and education

Monday, June 23, 2014

On June 17, UNH Policy Analyst joined a panel of experts in early childhood education to discuss the future of subsidized child care for younger children as New York City prepares to launch Universal Pre-K for 4-year-olds.

A link to the livestream and a summary of the event is below:

With the creation of EarlyLearnNYC in 2012, New York City reinvented its system for subsidized early care and education for children from low-income families. Officials sought to ensure high quality, developmentally smart care--but a string of financial and logistical hurdles posed difficulties for many of the nonprofit organizations that run these programs. Today, some thrive while others have lost their contracts or struggle to remain open. Now, as the city launches an expanded Pre-K network for 4-year-olds, what will happen to subsidized child care for younger kids? Can the reform vision of EarlyLearn be put fully into action, and sustained? A conversation with experts in the field, and the release of findings from a new Center for New York City Affairs report on early care and education.

Watch here! 


Settlement Houses Play Major Role in Mayor’s Vision of Expanded Afterschool Programs

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

PRESS RELEASE 

June 18, 2014
For Immediate Release                                                  
Contact: Gregory Brender, 212-967-0322 ext. 330 

Settlement Houses Play Major Role in Mayor’s Vision of Expanded Afterschool Programs

Settlement Houses Make Up 15% of Selected Providers

New York – Settlement houses have been selected to play a major role in making the Mayor’s vision of universally available afterschool programs for middle school students in New York City a reality. Yesterday, in an announcement at UNH member agency New Settlement Apartments, Mayor Bill de Blasio, joined by Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, Department of Youth and Community Development Commissioner Bill Chong and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett, announced the selection of 271 new programs, run by 108 community-based organizations, that will operate middle school programs starting in September.

 Eighteen settlement houses were selected to take part in the city’s afterschool expansion, together running 43 new programs at middle schools in Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens. The settlement house network makes up 15% of the newly selected providers.

The following member agencies of United Neighborhood Houses were selected:  BronxWorks, CAMBA, Center for Family Life in Sunset Park,  Claremont Neighborhood Centers, Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, East Side House, Educational Alliance, Grand Street Settlement, Henry Street Settlement, Kingsbridge Heights Community Center, Mosholu Montefiore Community Centers, New Settlement Apartments, Queens Community House, Southeast Bronx Neighborhood Centers, St. Nick’s Alliance, Union Settlement Association, University Settlement Society, and WHEDCo.

Settlement houses are neighborhood-based organizations that provide educational, recreational, and social services to residents of all ages, responding to the specific needs of their neighborhoods.   Their programs may include: job training and employment programs, early childhood education, youth programs, arts education and performances, English-as-a-Second-Language and literacy education, legal counseling, home care, housing, and senior services. All settlement houses in New York City are members of United Neighborhood Houses.  Providing services to children and youth are core to their mission.

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 United Neighborhood Houses (UNH) is a membership organization of 38 settlement houses and community centers in New York City. UNH promotes and strengthens the neighborhood-based, multi-service approach to improving the lives of New Yorkers in need and the communities in which they live. Today, UNH’s membership comprises one of the largest human service systems in New York City, with 38 agencies working at more than 400 sites to provide high quality services and activities to a half million New Yorkers each year. UNH supports its members through policy development, advocacy, and capacity-building activities. For more information, visit www.unhny.org.