On Tuesday, February 13th The Catalog had the opportunity to attend 16 Bars: Youth (Off)Ending Justice, a documentary theater piece, written, produced and performed by the teens of exalt, all of whom have been deeply impacted by their involvement with the criminal justice system in New York City. exalt is an alumni member program that re-engages court-involved young people in their love for learning and in helping them understand the urgency of taking action to reverse their journey along the school-to-prison pipeline. All of us at The Catalog are proud to be involved in exalt’s growth and trajectory.
We had our first workshop with our 8th cohort today! Part of the work of The Catalog is providing resources and skill building so our small, but mighty members can continue to grow and thrive. Shout out to our newest board member, Rhea Wong, for leading today’s workshop on organizing the perfect site visit!
In June 2015, thanks in very much large part to unrestricted support and a multi-year commitment from The Catalog for Giving, Atlas: DIY was able to move into a 3,000 square-foot space just nine blocks north of Atlas’ former facility, ensuring that we stayed within the Sunset Park community. Our new location boasts:
- a legal suite to accommodate our growing legal team and to ensure confidentiality for immigration, education, and family court cases;
- administrative offices with cubicles for administrative staff members;
- a private counseling room to be utilized by our on-staff social worker;
- computers for members to use;
- a closet of donated casual and professional clothing;
- a library;
- three small kitchens stocked with snacks and small meals;
- a balcony furnished with hammocks and a garden tended by our members; and,
- “CASA,” our signature activity room where young people have the space to connect, relax and simply be.
During construction, Atlas members poured their time, energy, and hearts into turning our new facility into a space that is truly theirs. Take, for example, the balcony garden. The west-facing balcony was full of Atlas members breaking down wood pallets and using the wood to build planting boxes and benches, creating a nature-filled sanctuary for themselves and future members. The south-facing balcony now features a mural of a sunset and the city skyline painting by Cesar, one of our members. When asked why he was inspired to create a mural for Atlas, he said, “Here in New York, in the United States, I have no family. Atlas is my family. Atlas isn’t my second home, it is my home.”
Perhaps one of the greatest features of our new space is a clear view of the Manhattan skyline. A member currently working towards her green card said this when she first stepped out onto the balcony and saw the skyscrapers stretching out across the horizon:
…standing on the balcony at Atlas and looking out at the skyline, it reminds me of everything that is made possible with the resources and assistance that Atlas provides. I feel more empowered, more visible, and have a certain contentment in knowing that even though I’ve been through so much, there are so many opportunities.
Today, our headquarters and community center is a thriving hub and refuge for immigrant youth of all backgrounds from across New York City with fast growing members and attendance. We may have to expand our space again very soon!
We’re delighted to announce that Catalog member program STOKED has been recognized as one of the best run nonprofit organizations in NYC! STOKED is one of ten nonprofit groups that have been chosen as semifinalists for The New York Community Trust 2017 Nonprofit Excellence Awards! STOKED is a two-time Catalog grantee and throughout our work with them we’ve been able to see first hand what an outstanding organization they are. We look forward the announcement of the finalists and wish STOKED the best of luck!
On Tuesday, May 9th we had the opportunity to serve as judges at another great Civics Day as the students from alumni member organization Generation Citizen, presented their civics projects from their semester long class! The students, taught by volunteer college students who serve as “democracy coaches,” select an issue of importance to their communities, study and coalesce around the root causes of the issue, identify the change-makers they need to engage, and work on tactics to make change happen.
In the picture above middle school students explain their research and outreach to curb racially motivated violence to Catalog friend, Stuart Post, Executive Director of The Meringoff Family Foundation. Other projects we judged included a proposal to reduce bus and subway fares for low income residents, and a program to bridge the serious trust divide between police and high school students. The student presenters were enthusiastic to understand their privilege and obligation to be engaged citizens and to make change happen in their communities.
Since joining The Catalog’s 6th cohort, GC has nearly tripled its number of participants and expanded to three additional cities. We continue to strategize with Founder and Executive Director, Scott Warren and his team and are proud of our early support of this amazing program.
On Thursday April 27th The Catalog convened a capacity-building workshop for its 7th Cohort Member Organizations. The workshop was presented by communications consultant Marti Fischer and provided participants with skills to perfect their organization’s elevator pitches and cut through all the noise that non-profit messaging is often lost in. A key goal of The Catalog is to expand the technical, fundraising, and communications skills of its member programs so that they are better able to survive in the current non-profit climate when they leave the Cohort. Thanks to the support of The Meringoff Family Foundation The Catalog will provide a number of capacity-building workshops to its member programs this year.
Our 7th Cohort will “graduate” from The Catalog this year and members are continuing to explore how to advance their operational skills and continue to serve more NYC youth. Our workshops for the cohort have covered many issues that are key to emerging nonprofits, but we knew that they were ready for more advanced work. So we were thrilled when Stuart Post, Executive Director of the Meringoff Family Foundation approached us to see how The Catalog could make use of a significant capacity building grant.
A key component of The Catalog’s philosophy and model of support is building capacity and providing technical assistance to our grantees, ensuring their success for years to come. In the last few years, The Catalog has broadened these services, hosting workshops in a variety of important fields for emerging nonprofits. Thanks to the support of the Meringoff Family Foundation, we are building on this work by sponsoring a series of workshops with a recognized expert in nonprofit fundraising focusing on concrete steps our organizations can take to advance their fundraising efforts. The grant will further provide individual consulting for our groups that are tackling particular issues. Our thanks go out to Stephen Meringoff and his family for recognizing the critical value of strengthening nonprofits’ operations.
“Access to higher education through outstanding youth development programming is a major focus of the Meringoff Family Foundation, and our support for Catalog for Giving is an extremely cost effective way to further this mission. Our grant increases the Catalog’s capacity, while also providing hands-on assistance to the 15 youth-serving organizations that comprise Cohort 7. It is with great satisfaction that I support my NYC real estate colleagues who are working so tirelessly on the Catalog’s behalf.”
Stephen J. Meringoff, President, Meringoff Family Foundation
On July 20th Catalog Executive Director, Florence Wiener and 2016 Urban Heroes co-honoree, Ed Adler and his wife Cheryl visited Catalog alumni program Row New York at the Peter J. Sharp Boathouse on the Harlem River, home to the program’s Manhattan site. During the early morning visit they went out on boats to watch coaches providing instruction to prepare participants for a regatta in Philadelphia. They also talked to students about their intensive physical training and the academic tutoring and college readiness that are hallmarks of the program. Row New York, which began as an all-girls program in Corona Park, Queens, and opened its coed program in Manhattan five years ago, is poised to open its third location in Brooklyn. The program is especially proud of its record of sending all of its graduates on to college.
On June 29th The Real Estate Committee of , led by James Nelson (Cushman Wakefield), convened a breakfast panel on the state of NYC’s commercial real estate market, hosted by L&L Holding Company and sponsored by Cushman & Wakefield, RESA, W Financial, McGowan Builders, CrowdComfort, and Crown Architecture and Consulting. All ticket proceeds benefitted The Catalog. Over 100 attendees listened to Paul J. Massey, Jr. provide opening remarks highlighting the importance of the New York City real estate community continuing to invest in programs and organizations like The Catalog that provide vital support in underserved communities. The panel was moderated by Steve Kohn (Cushman & Wakefield), and featured Catalog Board Members Rob Lapidus (L&L Holdings), Richard Wagman (Madison Capital),and Marty Burger (Silverstein Properties). The panelists provided guests with insight into the opportunities and challenges that commercial real estate market, and in particular the special challenges of large retail spaces in NYC’s current market. Sponsorships and ticket sales from the panel raised nearly $20,000 to benefit The Catalog’s 15 member programs and the youth they assist. Future panels are being planned for the fall and winter on other topics of interest to the real estate community.