It feels like our world has been turned upside down. The COVID-19 emergency has left no school, neighborhood, or family untouched. Yet, while this is a universal crisis, its effects have not been felt evenly–with certain neighborhoods, including those in Western Queens, among the hardest hit. Indeed, low-income communities, communities of color, and immigrant communities are bearing the brunt of both the public health crisis and the economic fallout. These compounding crises are only widening existing income and wealth gaps in our city and further fraying families’ dwindling safety nets.
At the same time, amid unprecedented challenges, we have seen the importance and power of communities coming together to support one another. That community support looks like LIC Relief, a neighborhood coalition working together to support local businesses and provide free meals for members of our community. It looks like P.S. 112 Principal Witkes’s heartfelt video message to his students and families and the P.S. 127 team’s “127 Strong” video for their school community. It looks like Make the Road New York’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund providing critical support to immigrant families and low-income workers. Community support for every child and family’s economic success is at the heart of the vision for the Save for College Program. In this moment of crisis, our support for one another is more critical than ever.
Please take a moment to read about what NYC Kids RISE is doing to make sure the Save for College Program can be a resource for our communities–both in this immediate emergency and its aftermath–in this note on our blog. As we move forward, our partnerships and collaborations across sectors and across communities will be more important than ever. Please do not hesitate to reach out, and I look forward to remaining in touch.
With best wishes,
Leveraging the Save for College Program’s network of partners across School District 30’s communities, NYC Kids RISE has so far distributed nearly $225,000 in emergency cash support to 1,500 kindergarten, first-grade, and second-grade families in the Save for College Program. The $150 cash disaster relief gift cards can be used for nearly any expense including food, utilities, cleaning supplies, or internet access to facilitate remote learning. We are grateful to the Gray Foundation, Robin Hood, Amalgamated Bank, and FIS for their support to provide this urgently needed relief. Thank you also to our elementary school partners across the School District who have worked to make sure families were aware of this opportunity.
“My family received the $150 gift card and I just wanted to say how grateful we are for your support and kindness and how much it will truly help us during this time. We are very lucky. Please be safe and lets get through this together.”
-Parent/guardian, P.S. 148Q The Ruby G. Allen School, Jackson Heights
“I received my gift card last week and used it on some much needed groceries. I write to express my gratitude and thanks. As I’m sure many other households are going through the same financial stress from being unemployed due to Covid, being able to buy groceries freely without an overwhelming concern on budget and finances was a gift like none other.”
– Parent/guardian, P.S. 76 William Hallet, Long Island City
“Thank you so much. Some families have called to say that they have no food or they are down to their last $100. Words cannot express my thanks.”
– Principal Carin Ellis, P.S. 212, Jackson Heights
If you would like to make a contribution to support emergency cash relief, please click below to donate. In this time of extreme and growing economic hardship in the epicenter of this crisis, it is critical that we invest directly in families–including undocumented families and others who may be excluded from government support. We believe in communities coming together to support one another in all the ways that they can, and we are grateful for any support you can offer.
By the numbers…
- 95% – of K-2 students across School District 30 have an NYC Scholarship Account
- 10,000+ – Total kindergarten, first-grade, and second-grade students enrolled in the Save for College Program
- $3.3M – Total assets accumulated to date for participating students’ college and career futures, including contributions from NYC Kids RISE, community scholarships, and families’ own savings
- $225K – In emergency cash support made available to date from the Gray Foundation and Robin Hood
- 1,500 – Emergency cash disaster relief gift cards made available to participating families to date
- 1,449+ – Families that the NYC Kids RISE team has connected with one-on-one to check in and offer support with accessing remote learning tools and other resources
ICYMI: NYC Kids RISE Community Town Halls
This month, NYC Kids RISE launched a series of biweekly Community Town Halls on Thursday evenings for parents in the Save for College Program and the surrounding community. Through these virtual events, streamed on Facebook LIVE, we are bringing together families and other experts from throughout the community on important topics that are top of mind at this time, including remote learning, financial resources, immigration, housing and workers rights, and more. In addition to providing practical information from experts in these fields, these town halls are also a way to highlight and celebrate the expertise of every family doing their best to cope with new challenges.
In case you missed our first Town Hall, “Supporting Your Student – and Yourself – through Remote Learning,” you can watch a recording here on Facebook.
Words From A Parent
Especially during times like these, we lean on and honor the individual and collective expertise of our community. Here are some tips that parents shared for other families about how they are navigating remote learning:
“Follow a schedule. Try to work with one child at a time. Do arts, music, and gymnastics at the end of the day. Sometimes I look on Youtube to find more about the subjects my kids do. You don’t need to do everything. You can try to do your best.”
“Mantener una rutina de trabajo escolar diaria con los niños como usualmente lo hacen en la escuela.” (Maintain a daily routine of school work with your children similar to what they do in school.)
“Instituting shifts of learning when having multiple children in the household is effective in balancing your child’s academic needs and completing what is needed around the home.”
Parent Teacher Conferences March 2020
During the March 2020 Parent Teacher Conferences, District 30’s parent coordinators, principals, teachers, and other school staff supported their K-2 families to activate their children’s NYC Scholarship Accounts and continue building assets for their college and career futures. NYC Kids RISE applauds the amazing leadership and creativity of our school partners across District 30 who continue to support and stay connected with their students and families as they adjust to remote learning. We can’t wait to be back in schools with you all soon.
What We’re Reading
Happenings Across the Community
The Save for College Program’s community-based organization partners are providing critical emergency support to families in the epicenter of NYC’s COVID-19 crisis–from free food, to health access, to advocacy and cash resources for workers and immigrants. These organizations are a lifeline for our communities. Here are just some of the critical services they are providing at this time.
Emerald Isle Immigration Center is connecting with the seniors in their community through reassurance and wellness calls and sharing key information about COVID-19 health guidelines.Donate to support Emerald Isle Immigration Center’s work here.
Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement is supporting their youngest by making calls to check in on each family that participates in their after school programs. They are also supporting seniors in Queensbridge Houses, Ravenswood Houses, and nearby communities with accessing vital necessities such as medication, food, and other resources they may need due to COVID-19.Donate to support Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement’s work here.
Queens Community House is running food pantries at two locations; checking on homebound seniors and helping to ensure seniors’ safety through case management services; ensuring access to laptops and WiFi connection for their young people to participate in online learning; and offering online and phone-based services including housing interventions, eviction prevention, case management, food access, citizenship and immigration assistance.Donate to support Queens Community House’s work here.
Make the Road New York launched a COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund to provide direct support for workers and low-income immigrant families, and are advocating for government solutions for these communities. They’re also hosting a series of webinars around relevant topics and resources.Donate to support Make the Road New York’s work here.
Sunnyside Community Servicesis supporting seniors’ safety with services and food, as well as managing food deliveries, while working to stay connected with the 2500+ youth they serve through their programs.Donate to support Sunnyside Community Services’ work here.
Urban Upbound has been dropping off free fresh food every day to NYCHA residents in their community and has launched a COVID-19 Emergency Response to cover the cost of food purchases and other much-needed supplies. They are also distributing checks directly to families impacted by the crisis.Donate to support Urban Upbound’s work here.
Small steps to big college dreams
Find out how:
The NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program provides families, schools, and communities with a way to work together to save for their children’s futures. It’s a scholarship and savings program designed to make college and career training more accessible and achievable for all NYC public school students—regardless of their family’s income or immigration status. The Save for College Program is a tool that families, along with their schools and neighbors, can use and customize in the way that best fits into their lives and best supports their dreams for their children. NYC Kids RISE, a nonprofit organization, manages the Save for College Program in partnership with the NYC Department of Education and the City of New York.
Founding support provided by the Gray Foundation.