News & Resources

News and Resources

A de Blasio-connected Education Coalition Presents its Blueprint for Pre-K

Friday, November 22, 2013

An organization affiliated with some of mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's closest advisers has presented him with a plan to implement his signature universal pre-K and expanded after-school plans.

Campaign for Children, a coalition of 150 education providers and advocates, released a detailed plan on Wednesday for how de Blasio can make his pre-K and after-school promises into policy.

Jennifer Jones Austin, the co-chair of de Blasio's transition team, is also the C.E.O. of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, which serves on the steering committee of the Campaign for Children. The Campaign for Children is also represented by Berlin Rosen, the firm that steered de Blasio's campaign to victory, and might be in a position to get this particular plans noticed from among the litany of priority memos and education wishlists de Blasio is being inundated with. 

The plan was delivered to de Blasio's transition team Wednesday after a rally at City Hall.

"The Campaign for Children seeks to be a partner in this endeavor, but also to hold the Administration accountable for its implementation," a spokeswoman for the Campaign said in a release. 

Campaign for Children's plan involves baselining $120 million of City Council discretionary funds for pre-K and after-school for 47,000 children, plus securing $30 million of one-year funding in the after-school system.

The plan also involves extending the current contracts through 2015 to avoid waiting on the Council to renew them this June, just six months after the de Blasio administration takes office. 

De Blasio should also create a new office, the group advised, to be called the Office of Early Childhood, which would focus exclusively on children ages 0-5. 

Campaign for Children has also advised the transition team to begin incorporating Common Core standards beginning in Kindergarten.

“The Campaign is excited and encouraged to have a Mayor-Elect who is a long-time champion of early childhood education and after-school programs, and who has made strengthening and expanding these programs a top priority for his new administration,” Nancy Wackstein, director of United Neighborhood Houses New York, one of the Campaign's members, said in a statement. 

EarlyLearn, the city's current system for enrolling children in pre-K programs, currently serves only 27 percent of eligible families, according to data from the Administration for Children's Services.

The Campaign for Children called EarlyLearn "under-funded and unstable" in a statement.

De Blasio's transition team did not respond to a request for comment.

Mock Election: After 13 years, it's the first time I'm voting

Tuesday, November 05, 2013
While registered voters all around New York City were voting for the next Mayor in November, UNH, with the New York Coalition to Expand Voting Rights, held a mock election at Diversity Plaza in Queens to raise awareness of the nearly one million legal immigrants in New York City who were unable to vote. NYC Councilmembers Daniel Dromm and Melissa Mark-Viverito showed their support for increasing immigrant voting rights, along with State Senator Jose Peralta. Nearly 350 community residents came to cast their mock ballots. Yola Andersson, a Queens resident, said, "Today, after 13 years in this country, it's the first time that I'm voting." This is likely the nation's first mock election for non-citizen residents. UNH is hopeful about securing passage of the voting bill in the coming year and will continue to organize UNH agencies to participate. 

Here are Three Things the Next Mayor Should Do for NYC's Youngest

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Here are Three Things the Next Mayor Should Do for NYC's Youngest

Expert Advice on How to Strengthen the Early Childhood System

Tuesday, November 05, 2013 - 02:11 PM

Pre-kindergarten students (Yasmeen Khan)

It’s been one year since the Bloomberg Administration launched EarlyLearnNYC, an ambitious model aimed at improving the quality of the city’s contracted child care system for children ages 6 weeks to 4 years old. As we look back at its first year, we see that EarlyLearn, while laudable, has not been fully realized.

As it exists, the current EarlyLearn system is under-funded, decreases the capacity of the contracted system, and includes rates that are inadequate for providers.

According to the Mayor’s Management Report, EarlyLearn enrollment in fiscal year 2013 was 30,096, a substantial decrease from the more than 45,000 children enrolled in the contracted system the year earlier.

When we look at total enrollment in the contracted and voucher systems, we see a 19 percent decrease in the number of children served by ACS in 2013 (101,852) compared to 2010 (120,809). This decrease in the number of children served is particularly troubling in light of the fact that ACS has found that only about one third of all eligible children are being served as it is.

The numbers are moving in the wrong direction.

We see a path for the next mayor to take to truly maximize access to a high-quality, affordable, full-day early childhood education experience. EarlyLearn's overarching goal is to deliver a higher level of service; something that early childhood education providers and advocates agree is of vital importance in preparing high-needs, low-income children for kindergarten and beyond.

Here are three things we want to see the next mayor do to ensure the early childhood system's success:

1. Stop the annual budget dance. First and foremost, the more than $60 million of one-year City Council discretionary funding for child care must be baselined so that the money is permanently in ACS’s budget. This would eliminate the annual budget dance where the City Council restores the one-year funding each June and would result in a more stable system.

2. Increase funding. The city must address the EarlyLearn rate so that it is sufficient to fund the high-quality services that EarlyLearn envisioned. The per-child rate must be increased so that providers can meet standards, retain appropriate and credentialed staff and meet the costs of operations, administration, and materials for children.

3. Respect the staff. We must ensure early education staff has adequate compensation and benefits. An investment in the early childhood education system must include resources for the workforce, including professional development, support for obtaining credentials and advancing education, and improved compensation and benefits, including affordable health care coverage.

Subsidized child care is an investment in New York City’s future. Every child deserves access to safe, high-quality, and affordable early childhood education.

Going forward, the next mayor, public advocate, comptroller and City Council members must have a plan for making high-quality, affordable early education available to every New York City child.

Letter to the Editor: Don't Taint All Charities

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Don’t Taint All Charities

To the Editor:

Re “A Whistle-Blower’s Letter Led to a Charity’s Firing of Its Chief Executive” (news article, Sept. 16):

The troubling allegations surrounding the recently departed head of the nonprofit Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty are sad and unfortunate. But what would be more unfortunate is if the entire nonprofit sector — the many thousands of mission-driven organizations serving New York City — were tainted as well.

Legitimate and honest service organizations must not be penalized because of the negative publicity surrounding a single individual. New York City’s vulnerable people depend upon a robust and vital social service infrastructure of agencies in our city.

And these agencies in turn depend upon the generosity and trust of donors whose belief in the integrity of our organizations must not be shaken by this regrettable incident.

Executive Director
United Neighborhood Houses
New York, Sept. 16, 2013

UNH Junior Board Partners with We Did It

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Junior Board is already looking forward to the November delivery of 50+ care packages to college freshmen who came from UNH settlement houses. The committee has already had its first meeting on Monday, June 10 at The Actors Fund offices, and will have an upcoming meeting on July 25th at Viacom.

We Did It, a new crowd-funding platform, has agreed to work with the Junior Board on this initiative, free of cost. This exciting partnership will allow Junior Board members to share information about donating with their social networks and will raise the profile of the initiative with corporate partners.

Co-chairs  Dylan Armajani and Rebecca Sauer have really been bringing the Care Package Program to another level this year.  In order to sign-up more college-bound young people across the UNH network and gather material to use in a soon to be produced promotional video, the Care Package Committee launched the UNH College Video Contest.  The Contest received many wonderful submissions, all of which were vying for the grand prize of a 16 GB iPad mini!

Moving forward, those who submitted videos will be added to the care package program list and their creative and informative submissions will be used to help fundraise and item-raise for this year’s care packages. 

Last year’s care packages included items such as UNH-branded playing cards, water bottles, USB drives, earphones, snacks, and more.  The committee will be finalizing their goals for this year’s campaign and they will be item/fundraising in the summer, followed by a packing party on November 7th, 2013. Save the Date and email for more information.

Junior Board reaches out to college-bound teens

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

With two successful career panels under our belt, the Career Panel committee has been off to a great start. The committee planned panels at Henry Street Settlement and The Door, reaching nearly 40 students with stories of about college and the job-searching experience.

Special thanks to our panelists:

Henry Street Settlement

Dylan Armajani, Jose Duverge, Cody Grant, Michael Jordan, Lisa Nguyen, Matt Phifer, Rebecca Sauer

The Door:

Christina Desvaux, Dan Fletcher, Tucker Harrison, Erin Jacobs, Kim Kubie, Rachel Pardoe, Rebecca Sauer

And now we have an upcoming panel at Hudson Guild on Monday August 12th and 12pm.  If you’d like to participate, please contact Co-Chair Ming at 

UNH Gives New Leaders a Blueprint for Neighborhoods

Wednesday, July 17, 2013
In June, UNH released the Blueprint for Neighborhoods, a series of recommendations for the next Mayor to comprehensively strengthen neighborhoods. Through the Blueprint, UNH advocated for quality human services that meet the needs of all New Yorkers. Based on the settlement house core belief that community residents know what they need best, the Blueprint was built on a series of visioning sessions, where UNH learned of their concerns and what would make a difference in their lives. UNH released the report at a policy briefing attended by 80 advocates and policy makers and spread the Blueprint's message throughout the 2013 City election races, including co-hosting a Mayoral forum attended by 250 businesses and community leaders. 

Explore Your Future in partnership with Hudson Guild

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Statement on NYCHA Deficit Reduction Actions

Monday, June 17, 2013

Statement of Nancy Wackstein, Executive Director of United Neighborhood Houses

On NYCHA Deficit Reduction Actions

June 17, 2013

The drastic actions that the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) announced last week to reduce its $205 million budget deficit will have a real and troubling impact on thousands of New Yorkers and their neighborhoods.  Essential human service programs, including community centers and senior centers, will be closed in NYCHA developments.  Rent increases to keep up with inflation for tenants subsidized by federal Section 8 vouchers will be eliminated.  Some NYCHA developments will have neither NYCHA nor nonprofit supported services available to them, likely increasing the numbers of low-income households at risk of spiraling into homelessness. 

New York City’s Department of Youth and Community Development and Department for the Aging are to be applauded for quickly taking positive steps to fund services for many of the neighborhoods that will be affected by the closing of NYCHA community centers and senior centers.  However, many neighborhoods and NYCHA developments still will completely lose these services.  There is no relief for Section 8 tenants facing rent increases.

These cuts are the tragic result of the decades-long abandonment of public housing by all levels of government manifested most recently in the cuts made through the blunt and wrong-headed federal sequestration process.  Public housing is an important investment and represents essential support for New York City’s low-income and working communities.  The federal government has all but said “drop dead” to NYCHA, and it is shameful.  

Junior Board - Board Development Committee

Thursday, June 06, 2013

The Board Development Committee has been busy finalizing the updated structure and expectations for Junior Board membership. This includes various levels of UNH Junior Board involvement, from being a “JB Friend”, a “JB Committee Member”, or a “Full JB Member”.  

Special thanks to Joanna Crispe, Board Development Co-Chair, for attending the UNH Board of Directors meeting on June 4th to report out about the latest activities of the Junior Board. Jaclyn Green-Stock, fellow Board Development Co-Chair, and Evan Seiler were able to attend UNH’s Annual Meeting that followed (pictured).