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Mayor de Blasio Releases One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

“United Neighborhood Houses applauds Mayor de Blasio for making increased equity a central part of the City’s long term vision in One New York. Community based organizations including settlement houses and community centers will continue to be part of the work of creating opportunities that will lift low-income New Yorkers out of poverty, reduce incarceration and reduce premature death. We look forward to working with the City to ensure a strong and stable non-profit sector that can contribute to making these goals a reality,” said Nancy Wackstein, Executive Director of United Neighborhood Houses.

Read the entire press release here

State Budget a Mixed Bag for Nonprofit Providers

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Looking beyond funding to directly support nonprofit provider organizations and their staffs, advocates found both good news and bad.

“The NYS FY2015-16 Enacted Budget presents a mixed bag for New Yorkers and the nonprofit settlement houses and community centers that serve them,” said Nancy Wackstein, executive director of United Neighborhood Houses. “In the ‘plus’ column, several key investments such as the Settlement House Program and School Aid support for New York City’s SONYC afterschool program were continued at FY15 levels, preventing a disruption in critical services.”


At the same time, however, advocates cited a range of issues where additional funding was necessary.

“In the ‘needs improvement’ column, other enhancements fell far short of need, as in the case of child care and the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP),” said UNH’s Wackstein. “In still other areas, funding actually remained flat despite growing need, as in the case of Community Services for the Elderly (CSE) and Adult Literacy Education (ALE). For many New Yorkers the cumulative funding decisions in this year’s budget will yield new opportunities, but for far more, their challenges will remain. Still, UNH remains committed to working with State leaders in the legislative session ahead to implement policies that support New York’s children, youth, immigrants and older adults.”

Read the full article here:

Telemundo features SYEP Rally

Friday, April 10, 2015

A Spanish-language broadcast on Telemundo features Gregory Brender, Co-Chair of the Campaign for Summer Jobs, standing next to his Co-Chair, speaker Gigi Li, on the steps of City Hall during a rally to support the Summer Youth Employment Program on Wednesday, April 8, 2015.

To watch the broadcast visit:

Advocates Call on City to Provide 50K SYEP Jobs in 2015

Thursday, April 09, 2015

“SYEP is a proven model of youth development which has been shown to positively impact the young people lucky enough to get an SYEP job,” said
Gregory Brender, Co-Director of Policy & Advocacy at United Neighborhood Houses and Co-Chair of The Campaign for Summer Jobs. “By increasing its investment in SYEP, the City can ensure that more young people gain valuable work experience over the summer.”

Read the full article here

Will New York City Give Non-Citizens the Right to Vote?

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

The idea of non-citizen voting is an old one, but currently only six communities in Maryland allow it for local elections. Chicago gives voting rights to non-citizens in school-board elections.

But clearly liberals would like to expand non-citizen voting. Kevin Douglas, co-director of policy for New York City’s United Neighborhood Houses, told the liberal blog ThinkProgress “the interests of the citizen body and the legal resident body are essentially the same when they’re living in the same community.” Liberals are already bitter opponents of laws in Arizona and Kansas that require voters to confirm under penalty of perjury they are citizens when they register. One reason for those laws is that there is evidence non-citizens can already choose to vote without much fear of detection.

Read the full article here.

More than a Million New Yorkers May Get the Right to Vote for the First Time

Monday, April 06, 2015

In addition to granting the right to vote to one in five adult New Yorkers, the measure could also help encourage voters to go to the polls during a time of low voter turnout, both in New York City local elections and federal elections. In 2013, only 24 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the election in which Mayor Bill De Blasio was elected.

“New York has historically been a very politically active city and I think if people were given the opportunity, something they were denied before, I think people will take the opportunity to utilize it,” Cuevas Ingram said. “The opportunity should be available, whether or not people are cynical about their politics.”

Kevin Douglas, co-director of policy for New York City’s United Neighborhood Houses, told ThinkProgress the expansion of the vote would also positively affect communities and their residents who are already enfranchised.

“In many communities in New York City, there’s very low voter participation rate and what we have are people that are legal residents that have the same concerns, whether its about trash pickup, the public schools or how local dollars are being spent,” he said. “To the extent we’re able to expand the electorate to which elected officials are accountable to, we think that would yield a greater benefit because the interests of the citizen body and the legal resident body are essentially the same when they’re living in the same community.”

Mayor De Blasio has not explicitly endorsed a noncitizen voting measure, but he has said he is open to the debate. De Blasio has also been the driving force behind other initiatives that have expanded rights for immigrants in New York City, including a program to issue municipal ID cards to the approximately 500,000 undocumented immigrants in the city.

Read the full article here

Program to find summer jobs for teens seeks help from city and private sector

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A program designed to get city kids workforce experience in the summer months is hoping for some help from the private sector this year — and a boost in funding from lawmakers.

The Summer Youth Employment Program placed more than 47,000 young New Yorkers into jobs last year, a number officials hope to match or exceed.

And the need is there. The city received more than 170,000 applications from eager young people in 2014. The deadline for this year is April 10.

“We were heartened to see the Council make it a key priority last year and we are hoping they will do it again this year,” said Gregory Brender of United Neighborhood Houses, who co-chairs the Campaign for Summer Jobs. “The demand has never really met the supply. And this gives kids somewhere positive to be.”

Read the full article here. 

Pre-K for All: 22,000 Families Apply for Pre-K on First Day

Wednesday, March 18, 2015
UNH Executive Director was quoted in a press release issued by the Mayor's office about the second phase in the expansion of Pre-K for All. 

“New York City’s settlement houses and community centers are proud to be part of the necessary work of ensuring that every child in New York City has access to high-quality, safe and affordable early childhood education.”  said Nancy Wackstein, Executive Director of United Neighborhood Houses. “Expanding the pre-K system to 70,000 slots in just two years is a remarkable and historic achievement. We look forward to continuing to work with the de Blasio administration and communities in every neighborhood to provide care and education to the youngest New Yorkers.” 

Read the full press release here. 

Campaign for Children Seeks Funding for Early Childhood and After School Fixes

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

In response to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Preliminary Budget for FY2015-16, The Campaign for Children is seeking several budget adjustments to address what they argue are critical issues in both the early childhood and after school services networks in New York City. 
“Early Learn providers’ largest concern is with the compensation of their staff. Early Childhood educators are among the lowest paid professionals of any field and the situation for Early Learn teachers and staff is particularly stark,” said UNH’s Gregory Brender.  “Many Early Learn staff cannot afford health insurance due to the employee contribution. Moreover, their salaries are considerably lower than similarly credentialed teachers in the public school systems. These disparities will only grow if the wages of Early Learn teachers continue to stagnate.”

Read the full article here.  

Wackstein to Leave UNH at End of Year

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Board of Directors of United Neighborhood Houses has announced that Nancy Wackstein will be leaving her position as Executive Director of the organization at the end of 2015 after 13 years in that role.  Wackstein will remain in her current position through December 2015 in order to ensure a smooth transition unless a successor is identified prior to that date.  The Board has formed a committee to lead the search for a new leader.

“Nancy Wackstein’s dedication and leadership for 12 years has enabled UNH to have a strong and prominent role in furthering the work of settlement houses in New York’s neighborhoods.  Nancy is passionate about the work of settlement houses, and has a profound understanding of public policy issues. She has united our voices, strengthened our impact, and enabled the work of New York City settlements to improve the lives the people we serve” said Bryna Sanger, President of the Board of Directors.  “UNH has grown significantly since Nancy arrived in 2002. It has broadened its membership and deepened its influence with our government partners and colleagues in the human services community, as we work together to provide opportunities for New Yorkers and enrich our communities.”

“It has been an enormous privilege to represent the settlement houses of New York City," said Wackstein. "They are anchors in their neighborhoods, providers of the highest quality educational, social, cultural and recreational services, and strong advocates for those in our City who have the least.   I am enormously proud of the UNH staff, who work tirelessly on behalf of our mission and our members and I will greatly miss my daily work with such an exemplary and committed group of people.  And last, I thank the UNH Board of Directors, whose generosity and support truly have made UNH’s success possible over my tenure.”

Wackstein announced that she has accepted a position as a Visiting Distinguished Lecturer starting in early 2016 at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, CUNY, where she will work on various projects relating to nonprofit engagement and excellence.

United Neighborhood Houses 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.  A membership organization rooted in the history and values of the settlement house movement, UNH supports its 38 members through policy development, advocacy and capacity-building activities.