NYC Kids RISE Distributes Over $1.5M in Emergency Cash Support to Nearly 5,000 Queens Families in the Save for College Program
July 26, 2021
Essential Disaster Relief Funds Provided to Families In Communities Hardest Hit By COVID-19 including Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst and Corona During the Pandemic
Neighborhood-Based Network Quickly Distributed Emergency Cash Relief for Families to Meet Immediate Financial Needs
Queens, NY – NYC Kids RISE has successfully distributed over $1.5M in emergency cash disaster relief since April 2020 to nearly 5,000 first, second, and third-grade families in Queens neighborhoods at the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis. All families are part of the NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program, a universal community-driven wealth-building platform on track to expand citywide in the year ahead that provides families, schools and communities with a way to work together to save for their children’s futures. The emergency cash was made possible thanks to funders including Robin Hood’s Relief Fund, the Gray Foundation, District Council 9 and the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), The Thomas and Jeanne Elmezzi Private Foundation, and the Zegar Family Fund.
When COVID-19 hit New York City, NYC Kids RISE and its partners quickly moved into action, leveraging the platform’s infrastructure to raise and distribute $1.5 million in emergency cash relief directly to families enrolled in the Save for College Program. NYC Kids RISE developed and managed the distribution process while school partners played a pivotal role in connecting with families to ensure they were able to claim the much-needed relief.
Each of the nearly 5,000 participating families received at least one $150 disaster relief gift card, provided for at no additional cost by Amalgamated Bank and FIS. Families could use the funds for nearly any expense including food, utilities, cleaning supplies, or internet access to facilitate remote learning. The families were among the more than 13,000 families participating in the NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program, which represents 95% of all eligible kindergarten, first-, second, and third-graders in School District 30, one of the most diverse school districts in the country. As part of the NYC Juneteenth Economic Justice Plan, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity announced a commitment to the citywide expansion of the Save for College Program, meaning that every kindergartener enrolled in an NYC public school will have access to an NYC Scholarship Account.
“When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the health and well-being of my children was my top concern. This emergency financial relief made a difference for my family as we worked together to make it through this challenging time. I am deeply grateful to be a part of the NYC Kids RISE community alongside countless other families, businesses, schools and local leaders here in Queens,” said Nahida Nasrin, Save for College Program Parent.
“Beyond the Save for College Program’s work to open up opportunities for college and career development, NYC Kids RISE’s work to distribute over $1.5 in emergency relief served to underscore the power of the platform as a tool to strengthen the social fabric and economic connections within participating communities,” said Dr. Philip A. Composto Community Superintendent Community School District 30. “Our school district is proud to partner with NYC Kids RISE on this journey in supporting all our children and families.”
“This effort to raise and distribute emergency relief is a prime example of what is possible through partnership. We are grateful to the leadership of schools across District 30, the NYC Kids RISE team, our fellow funders and Amalgamated Bank for their work in enabling families in some of the hardest hit communities to receive this emergency cash support,”said Dana Zucker, Chair of NYC Kids RISE and Executive Director of the Gray Foundation.
“NYC Kids RISE immediately jumped to action to support Save For College Program families in Queens during a moment of untold devastation. The Save For College platform — and the network of relationships created through its pilot phase — has proven to be an invaluable resource in emergency relief efforts. Robin Hood is proud to support this invaluable work,” said Emary Aronson, Robin Hood’s Chief Knowledge Officer & Senior Advisor to the CEO.
“Over the past year, families living at the epicenter of the pandemic in Queens lost critical income, services, and loved ones,” said Councilmember Daniel Dromm who represents District 25 in Queens. “The way NYC Kids RISE was able to quickly mobilize their network with local schools in a moment of crisis demonstrates how local institutions can become part of an ecosystem of support around our students and their families. These important partnerships will be even more vital in the months and years ahead as New York looks towards its recovery.”
“When COVID-19 hit, we saw New York City come together as we always do in challenging times to support the most vulnerable, especially in the neighborhoods hardest hit. I am grateful for the countless volunteers and the leadership of partners like NYC Kids RISE who mobilized their network and worked with my office to get much needed relief to families. This is what community is all about,” said Council Member Francisco Moya, who represents District 21 in Queens.
“The Save For College Program is all about making sure that every child, regardless of income or zip code, can dream big with the support of their community behind them,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer who represents Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City and parts of Astoria. “It’s so important that networks of mutual support like the one created by NYC Kids RISE are there to respond and adapt to meet families’ needs in times of crisis, and also there to cheer them on in moments of triumph.”
“This emergency relief effort highlights both the versatility of the Save for College Program distribution platform, and demonstrates the continued importance of investing in the social infrastructure within neighborhoods. Because of the relationships and systems set up among NYC Kids RISE, the 39 elementary schools and Amalgamated Bank, we were quickly able to mobilize to get resources into the hands of families in our community. We are proud that this $1.5M not only supported families’ urgent needs, but also that much of the $1.5M was dollars that were circulated at businesses in our neighborhood.” said Debra-Ellen Glickstein, Executive Director of NYC Kids RISE.