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!
Pictured above: Atlas member and Peer Educator, Victor V. (center), Atlas member, Luis Q (l), and Atlas community organizer, David A (r) leading a KYR (Know Your Rights) workshop for immigrant community members at Mixteca in Sunset Park Brooklyn.
Catalog cohort member Atlas DIY has been one of many NYC organizations working tirelessly to make sure that young people, regardless of their immigration status, know their rights, have access to accurate information, and free and honest legal services. Atlas has prioritized all calls and inquiries coming in about DACA and quickly organized two major community events to help respond: 1) a legal clinic for DACAmented youth on September 15th and 2) an Immigrant Resource Fair in collaboration with Mixteca and the Jamie Lucero Mexican Studies Institute.
At their immigrant resource fair, a team of Atlas youth, trained and supervised by their legal team, conducted immigration consultations for community members of all ages. Sadly, they often had to correct inaccurate and fraudulent information people had received from private attorneys. Atlas’s youth peer educators also led a Know-Your-Rights presentation and an update about the DACA cancellation.
On September 11th, 2017 The Catalog and its alumni member program Opening Act joined Cantor Fitzgerald and its affiliate BGC Partners for their annual Charity Day which commemorates the 648 employees Cantor Fitzgerald lost on 9/11. Cantor donates 100% of the day’s global revenues to dozens of charities like the Catalog for Giving and its own Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund, turning a tragic day in America’s history into one of positivity and hope. This year’s celebrity supporters, Uzo Aduba and Christopher Jackson, of Opening Act took to the trading floor and made dozens of trades to help support this great cause.
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!
As she prepares to graduate high school, Jocelyn looks forward to the next stage of her life with confidence and excitement. She will be attending Dickinson College as a POSSE Scholar, and she plans to study computer science. “I now know what it’s like to work at a company as a software developer, and I know that’s what I want.”
Jocelyn was exposed to careers in technology through Catalog member program ScriptEd. She took a coding course offered by ScriptEd at her school, the Young Women’s Leadership Academy of East Harlem. After her first year in the course, Jocelyn signed up for the ScriptEd internship program and spent the summer as an intern at ThoughtWorks, a technology consulting firm. “I got to network with people and get a glimpse of what my future could be like.”
Jocelyn’s second year with ScriptEd exposed her to even more opportunities in the field of software development. She attended advanced classes after-school at a company called Teachers Pay Teachers, where she expanded her coding skills and her network of professional contacts. She also signed up for another summer internship, and is excited to build more transferable skills. “I am really proud of the app I developed [in my internship], because it was the first time I built an app in that language. My managers told me that if I can do what ScriptEd taught me, I can build an app in any new language and use the same concepts and skills.”
At the age of 15, without any family members, Derrick Cordova left La Ceiba, Honduras on a treacherous 2,000-mile trek to the United States. He followed in the path of thousands of other Central American youth, who were fleeing gangs, violence, and a lack of jobs and opportunities, to seek a better life for themselves and their families. At South Bronx United (SBU), his love for soccer enabled him to find family again. In addition to leading his SBU soccer team in scoring, he attended English classes and SAT Prep and improved his grades after his initial struggles in school. He worked with SBU’s Legal Services Coordinator to gain Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, which put him on the path towards legal permanent residency.
Derrick was recently admitted to the College of Mount Saint Vincent on a full scholarship. He will be playing on college soccer and has the goal of one day becoming an immigration attorney. In January, ESPN Deportes and ESPN SportsCenter aired a segment titled “El Camino,” covering Derrick’s journey.
When David Silva was called in for Catalog for Giving member program Breakthrough NY’s (BTNY) info session as a 6th grader, he thought he was in trouble so didn’t respond to his name being called over the loud speaker. Eventually, a school staff member went to find him and explained that he wasn’t in trouble, so he went to the info session and loved what he heard. He was in a middle school where only some of his classmates were academically minded, so he liked the idea of getting to learn more over the summer and meet other kids who were equally excited about learning.
He believes that he was chosen to join BTNY because of his demeanor, drive, and vulnerability. He was always open about who he is, and was able to share the truth about himself during his interview. For example, he felt comfortable enough to talk about how his parents were splitting up at the time, which was a very sensitive topic and not something every kid would have willingly shared.
David, now a senior in high school, was recently accepted as a POSSE scholar to Babson College. He has always taken advantage of any and every opportunity that has come his way because of BTNY and/or other resources in his life. He has taken the leadership and teamwork skills that he’s learned at BTNY, to create both a swim club and math club at his high school.
On a personal level, he really thrived in the BTNY’s academic summer program, where everyone was engaged and committed to academics. Before, he was a very shy person, and found it difficult to make new friends, but being at BTNY helped him grow. He also learned the value of caring for others (such as celebrating their accomplishments) and the importance of community to one’s success.