SBRT’S AUGUST NEWSLETTER

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Dear Partners,

With Fall approaching, this month’s newsletter includes updates on new SBRT staff, our latest trainings and project meetings, and spotlights for Kindergarten Readiness and Attendance Awareness Month.

Early Learning System

James (Jaime) Rivera is a Bronx-born Puerto Rican and has been involved in activism, organizing, and advocacy for over 25 years. Prior to joining SBRT he organized campaigns for environmental, social, and food justice, prisoners' rights, healthy home products, and climate change. Jaime has also been involved in coalitions advocating against jail expansions in the South Bronx, coalitions to end and prevent gun violence and the self-determination of Puerto Rico.

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All Succeed in School

This summer, SBRT continues to work towards ensuring that all children in Bronx Community District 3 are able to succeed educationally, graduate high school ready for college, and are able to begin a career. Our Continuous Improvement training brought together various local stakeholders to refine and design various data-driven strategies and plans for the upcoming school year. To support local schools and their effort towards decreasing chronic absenteeism, SBRT’s Attendance Improvement project group held a meeting to discuss strategies for better communication with parents and caregivers.

If you are a Bronx-based CBO or school (early childhood, preschool, or K-12) and interested in Continuous Improvement training, please contact Director Michael Partis (michael@risingtogether.org). To learn more about SBRT’s work to increase student attendance in Bronx Community District 3, contact Manager Kendall Lewis (kendall@risingtogether.org).

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All Are Ready For Kindergarten

Early childhood education is critical for Kindergarten Readiness and lifelong academic success. This month, SBRT is excited to spotlight the Little Scholars Early Development Center and its Founder and Educational Director, Jasmin Corniel.

1. Who are Little Scholars students and families?

Little Scholars provides early childhood education services to 250 children ages 6 weeks to 6 years old. Our three sites provide quality programming to an otherwise severely under-served population - almost all of our families are at or below the federal poverty line, and many of our families experience challenges like homelessness, housing insecurity, and domestic violence. Our culturally responsive centers serve families speaking Spanish, various African dialects, and other languages. We take a lot of pride in offering our programming in this community, where few quality childcare options previously existed for parents.

2. What are some standout features of your curriculum?

Little Scholars applies a constructivist philosophy to education: we believe students construct their world of knowledge by taking ownership of their learning, instead of passively absorbing information. We employ a cross-curricular approach where teachers and students learn from their environment alongside each other by stretching various learning muscles - literacy, math skills, science, and social-emotional skills are each brought in simultaneously as students explore themed units through music, art, movement, and other activities.

3. What are some ways you involve and engage with parents, caregivers, and the community?

We’ve been really fortunate to enjoy deep engagement with very responsive families - the community we work in has welcomed us with open arms. Because we understand how much value our families see in our centers, we have taken a look at what other value we could bring to our community. We offer summer camp for youth ages 6 - 16 to fill that summer gap and offer youth a space to spend their out of school time. Through a partnership with the NYC Department of Aging, we house a foster grandparents program where retired seniors, many of whom are long-time residents in the neighborhood and former city employees, keep active by coming into our daycare and supporting our programming.

4. How do you define success for your center?

Success for Little Scholars lies in the connections we have made with other leaders. This allows us to bring more and diverse resources to the communities our centers serve. I believe we are a beacon of light for many of the children and families in our programs. We pride ourselves in being a constant positive input to our families; one that will span from early childhood through adult and beyond.

One other aspect of success for us is advocating for the field of Early Childhood Education as a whole. This is evidence through our activism with other like minded organizations. Our issues include advocating for funding for our children, unifying the workforce, and professionally developing teachers and program leaders. It is important to bring awareness to issues that are affecting the field. To make sure that equity is always present in the decisions made by policy makers, we fight for our teachers, children, and communities.

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September is Attendance Awareness Month

Join SBRT and all of BX Community District 3 as we usher in the new school year and Attendance Awareness Month! Chronic Absence is when a student misses more than 18 DAYS (2 days a month) of school for any reason! Join us in our push to raise awareness around the barriers to school attendance and how we can collectively eliminate them!

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Join The Team!

Visit the “Careers” section of our website to see the latest openings on our Backbone Team.

SBRT’S PARENT FOCUS GROUP

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Dear Partners,

South Bronx Rising Together (SBRT) wants to hear from you about raising young children in Community District 3 and how SBRT can support you and the community. We invite you to come learn more about SBRT and talk about ways to partner together. Dinner and child care will be provided! Parents can RSVP here and view the Spanish language flyer here.

SBRT Parent Focus Group
Wednesday, August 21st | 5:30 pm
Bronx Family Center | 1515 Southern Blvd

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Join the Team!

Visit the “Careers” section of our website to see the latest openings on our Backbone Team.

SBRT’S Upcoming Events

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Dear Partners,

Read below to find out about upcoming SBRT events and helpful information for local families.

Early Childhood Education Policy Discussion

On August 15, SBRT will host early childhood providers to discuss the recent DOE Birth-To-Five RFP for Center-Based and School-Based programs. Findings will be used as recommendations for how municipal systems can improve the application process and overall engagement with local early childhood providers.

SBRT Early Childhood Policy Discussion
Thursday, August 15th | 9:00 am
Bronx Family Center | 1515 Southern Blvd
RSVP Here

Parent Focus Group

SBRT wants to hear from the parents and caregivers of infants and toddlers about our South Bronx early childhood systems. This focus group will look at family experiences with social service agencies, pediatricians, daycares, and other local providers. Parents can RSVP with Lara Kyriakou (lara@risingtogether.org) and the Spanish language flyer can be found here.

SBRT Parent Focus Group
Wednesday, August 21st | 5:30 pm
Bronx Family Center | 1515 Southern Blvd

Next Month is Attendance Awareness Month. Count Us In!

Addressing chronic absence is a key component of improving graduation rates, increasing academic achievement and giving young people the best chance at success in their adult life. Join the Attendance Awareness Campaign and make a difference in your community.

To learn more about how you can join SBRT’s effort to improve student attendance in Bronx Community District 3, contact School-Age Network Manager Kendall Lewis (kendall@risingtogether.org).

Enroll in a Preschool Programs at a Local South Bronx CBO

Bronx Community District 3 has great early childhood programs! If your family is still looking for a preschool, there is still time to enroll at many local community-based organizations. Go to the NYC Department of Education’s MySchools Directory and select 3-K or Pre-K. In the “Type” field, pick “NYC Early Education Centers” to see the CBO preschool programs in our local area. Also try the My Bronx Impact platform to find preschools and other resources in your neighborhood. If you are a family or provider with questions, please contact SBRT’s Director, Michael Partis at michael@risingtogether.org

Join the Team!

Visit the “Careers” section of our website to see the latest openings on our Backbone Team.

SBRT’S JULY NEWSLETTER

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Dear Partners,

In this month’s newsletter, you will find highlights from our Early Years and School-Age Roundtables and details on upcoming events.

Early Learning System

Our Early Years Roundtable brought together partners from education, government, and local organizations to discuss home-based child care and early literacy in Bronx CD3. Our partners at the NYPL’s Morrisania branch announced their forthcoming iPad pilot for families and the story time series in Crotona Park. We extend a special thank you to Ella Walcott for an insightful presentation on the early childhood education programs offered by the Fort George Community Center in the Claremont section of the Bronx.

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All Succeed in School

This month’s School-Age Roundtable convened our community of practice together to look at school improvement and chronic absenteeism. Scholastic shared with attendees their efforts to bring coaching and data-driven strategies to local South Bronx schools. P.S. 42 Principal Lucia Orduz presented on how her school engages families and utilizes data to prevent students from becoming chronically absent.

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SBRT Events - July 2019

Attendance Improvement Project Meeting 
Monday, July 29th | 10:00 am
Bronx Family Center | 1515 Southern Blvd
RSVP Here | Agenda Here

Our project meeting will continue the planning for Attendance Awareness Month this September and strategize ways to reduce chronic student absences in our local schools.

Questions? Contact Kendall Lewis (kendall@risingtogether.org)


SBRT Continuous Improvement Training 
Tuesday, July 30th | 9:00 am
Bronx Family Center | 1515 Southern Blvd 
RSVP Here

This free training includes an introduction to rapid cycle testing, support in developing data-driven strategies, and team time for planning your own PDSAs (Plan, Do, Study, Act) and improvement projects.

Questions? Contact Michael Partis (michael@risingtogether.org

Join the Team!

Visit the “Careers” section of our website to see the latest openings on our Backbone Team.

SBRT’S UPCOMING EVENTS

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Dear Partners,

Thank you to everyone that participated in our Early Years and School Age Roundtables this month. Collaboration and community-led solutions is how SBRT strives to improve outcomes for South Bronx families and students. We look forward to seeing you at one of our upcoming events this summer.


Early Childhood Literacy Project Meeting
Monday, July 22nd | 10:00 am
Conference Call
RSVP Here

This project meeting is a planning session for Literacy Dinner: a pilot to increase preschool children’s literacy through family engagement, health and wellness, and socio-emotional learning.

Questions? Contact Michael Partis (michael@risingtogether.org)


Attendance Improvement Project Meeting
Monday, July 29th | 10:00 am
Bronx Family Center | 1515 Southern Blvd
RSVP Here

At this meeting, we will continue planning for September's Attendance Awareness Month campaign and strategize ways to reduce chronic absenteeism among students in our local schools.

Questions? Contact Kendall Lewis (kendall@risingtogether.org)


SBRT Continuous Improvement Training
Tuesday, July 30th | 9:00 am
Bronx Family Center | 1515 Southern Blvd
RSVP Here

This free training includes an introduction to rapid cycle testing, support in developing data-driven strategies, and team time for planning your own PDSAs (Plan, Do, Study, Act) and improvement projects.

Questions? Contact Michael Partis (michael@risingtogether.org

SBRT’S EARLY YEARS ROUNDTABLE

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Dear Partners,

Join us next week at our Early Years Roundtable!

Early Years Roundtable
Monday, July 15th | 3:00 pm
Children’s Aid | 1515 Southern Blvd.
RSVP Here

Discussion topics include findings from SBRT's home-based childcare provider focus groups and the impact of the DOE's Birth to Five RFP on community-based providers.

We are excited to have the Fort George Community Enrichment Center as a guest presenter on local early childhood education in the Claremont section of the Bronx. You will also hear from the NYPL Morrisania branch about their exciting summer 2019 events and initiatives. 

Note: If you are taking public transportation, please plan for extra travel time. Uptown 2 and 5 trains will be running express from 149th Street to 180th Street.

SBRT’S SCHOOL-AGE ROUNDTABLE

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Dear Partners,

We are looking forward to the seeing you all at our School-Age Roundtable tomorrow. Our guest speaker will be Principal Lucia Orduz. There will be a special presentation and breakfast at 9:30 am from Scholastic on their educational resources and newest campaign.

School-Age Roundtable
Wednesday, July 10th | 10:00 am
Children’s Aid | 958 E. 176th St.
RSVP Here

Strong schools are an important component to spreading academic success in our South Bronx neighborhoods. SBRT’s school partnerships emphasize how a collective impact approach can drive better educational outcomes for all students in Bronx Community District 3. We are excited to bring school leaders together with stakeholders to collaborate for results!

Join us tomorrow to hear more about the work of local schools and to learn more about how you can join our campaign for educational success.

All Succeed In School

Luis Torres is the Principal of C.S. 55, a member of SBRT’s Leadership Council, and a passionate advocate for  educational equity . Read below to learn more about his approach to improving outcomes for South Bronx students and families.

Luis Torres is the Principal of C.S. 55, a member of SBRT’s Leadership Council, and a passionate advocate for educational equity. Read below to learn more about his approach to improving outcomes for South Bronx students and families.

1. What do you attribute to your success?

I attribute my vision and our success to understanding what I call the “Fifth Priority.” For many families, food, shelter, safety, and health come before education. As a principal, I have been able to create a school that works to address these four basic needs so that families can ensure their children are able to attend school.

2. What support do you need from the local community to have greater outcomes?

In order to better serve my community, we need equal investment in the community. The standards outside the school need to match the standards within the school. For a long time people believed the school would fix the ailments of the community. The reality is that we must invest in the school and the community equally.

3. How do you use data for attendance improvement efforts? 

All of our children who have issues with attendance are assigned a “success mentor.” This mentor uses the data to regularly check in with the student and contact the parents when necessary. We also look at the data to figure out what is causing children to be absent. One year, we saw that children were mostly absent during rainy days, so we purchased umbrellas for the families. Anther year, parents were complaining that they were late because they overslept, so we purchased alarm clocks. 

SBRT’S JUNE NEWSLETTER

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Dear Partners,

This month's newsletter features updates from our early childhood work, as well as recaps from our projects in early childhood literacy and school attendance. We are also excited to bring you lessons from one of our school partners on strategies for improving academic outcomes in our communities. Read more to learn how Principal Lucia Orduz-Castilo uses data and community building to help local students succeed.

Early Learning System

Recently, Lara Kyriakou (SBRT Manager) and Michael Partis (SBRT Director) were panelists at the Robin Hood Foundation's FUEL Convening. The event brought together leaders from social impact, public service, and academia to share successes and findings from the implementation of early childhood projects throughout the city. Along with other community-based organizations and collective impact initiatives, Lara and Michael shared lessons in utilizing local-level feedback to improve outreach and engagement to families with infants and toddlers.

SBRT's Early Learning System has begun our community deep-dives on childcare in Bronx Community District 3. Current activities include childcare surveys for parents and caregivers, as well as focus groups with local home-based childcare providers. To learn more about this work, we invite you to our Early Years Roundtable on July 15 where we will share initial insights. If you are interested in supporting our community-focused research efforts, please contact Lara (lara@risingtogether).

SBRT’s Director, Michael Partis speaking at Robin Hood Foundation's FUEL Convening.

SBRT’s Director, Michael Partis speaking at Robin Hood Foundation's FUEL Convening.

All Succeed in School

As the 2018-2019 school year draws to a close, SBRT will be bringing you on-the-ground insights from our school partners on how they are increasing the quality of education and working towards improving academic outcomes. For the first installment in this series, we are excited to highlight P.S. 42 and its Principal Lucia Orduz-Castillo.

1. What do you attribute to your success?

It’s a team effort. There are so many moving pieces that it takes a number of dedicated staff members to ensure forward movement. Staff has to believe in their contribution to a student’s attendance – and the impact they can make, regardless of their title in a school building.

2. How do you use data for attendance improvement efforts?

Data analysis, for example, helps us to identify students who are at-risk of becoming chronically absent. These students are then paired with a success mentor who checks in with them daily. We identify the more severe cases through data analysis as well, and attach those students to clinicians in our school. As for our preventative strategies, we use the summer months to analyze historical data to help us create universal attendance initiatives. Data will tell us, for example, school dates that are historically poorly attended, or days of the week where attendance is higher than others. Such information is essential in making necessary changes to avoid history repeating itself.

3. How do you address chronic absenteeism?

We begin by identifying the students as early as August, and sharing a personalized attendance report of the previous school year with those families in a welcome back packet. We also attach the chronically absent students to a more experienced success mentor, such as our school’s social workers. The clinicians are expected to begin to work with students as early as the second week of school. Any student who hits 10 days of absence has a letter sent home requesting a personal meeting with the Principal. At the meeting, parents receive an explanation that continued absences will result in chronic or severely chronically absent labels for their children. We also seek to understand the reason for the absences at such meetings and attempt to connect the parent with necessary resources to avoid continued absences.

4. What support would you need from the local community to have greater success?

30% of our students are those in temporary housing. Ironically, although the DOE has staff inside of neighborhood shelters, a large portion of our chronically absent students are in temporary housing. We need to ensure that staff at shelters are working in unison with a school’s attendance team. There should be daily efforts to ensure that all children living in a shelter are in school even if it means doing a morning roll call, or providing a walking bus from the shelter to the school building. It is unacceptable for school attendance not to be enforced in a shelter.

Lucia Orduz-Castillo, Principal at P.S. 42 in the Claremont section of the Bronx.

Lucia Orduz-Castillo, Principal at P.S. 42 in the Claremont section of the Bronx.

SBRT Events - July 2019

Please note that all events are open to the public. We all ask partners to spread the word, invite other stakeholders, and encourage residents and community members to join us.

Early Years Roundtable
Monday, July 15th | 3:00 pm
Children’s Aid | 1515 Southern Blvd.
RSVP Here

Read the recaps to our April Roundtable and June Early Childhood Literacy project meeting.

Questions? Contact Lara Kyriakou (lara@risingtogether.org).

School-Age Roundtable
Wednesday, July 10th | 10:00 am
Children’s Aid | 958 E. 176th St.
RSVP Here

Read the recaps to our April Roundtable and June School Attendance project meeting.

Questions? Contact Kendall Lewis (kendall@risingtogether.org).

SBRT Continuous Improvement Training
Tuesday, July 30th | 10:00 am
Location TBA
RSVP Here

Questions? Contact Michael Partis (michael@risingtogether.org).


Join the Team!

Visit the “Careers” section of our website to see our latest openings.