Posts Tagged ‘Catholic Charities Alianza Division’

Children Walk with Dinosaurs – and Run as They Roar

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

dinosaurBy Alice Kenny

Children participating in Catholic Charities’ Alianza Highbridge Gardens Cornerstone Summer Day Camp walked with brontosauruses, T-rexes and fellow ferocious but, lucky for us, recreated life-size dinosaurs – and ran as they roared – during their camp trip last week to Barclay’s Walking with Dinosaurs show in Brooklyn.

The stopover in Brooklyn of 20 life-size dinosaurs’ was part of a worldwide, 217-city tour already seen by more than 8 million people.

The trip was one of many the children hailing from the low-income Highbridge section of the Bronx are taking part in during this free, seven-day-per week summer program. Their neighborhood, cut off from Manhattan not only by the unforgiving geography of the East River and the Major Deegan Expressway, has also been cut off by income, race and expectations.

Catholic Charities Alianza Division provides services for these youth ages 5 to 21 years old, promoting a world view that extends far beyond the streets where they live. We facilitate a free summer day camp, a middle school enrichment program, and evening teen lounge program where teens have a fun and safe place to hang-out at night.

Lean In

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

impactdaycollageBy Alice Kenny

On June 6, one hundred and sixty volunteers from the national consulting firm Deloitte ventured away from their offices and fanned out to more than a dozen separate site locations affiliated with Catholic Charities and its social service programs. Below is the last installment in a series about their adventures. It offers a glimpse at the large amount that together we can accomplish.

At Catholic Charities Alianza Division in Washington Heights where per–capita income is half the New York average, Deloitte volunteers staged mock interviews with students, provided resume-writing one-on-ones and offered personalized job skills training. Meanwhile, low-income women who study at Grace Institute, a Catholic Charities affiliate that provides tuition-free job training took advantage of similar mock-interviews, career panels and networking opportunities thanks to Deloitte volunteers stationed there. “I volunteered here today because this is something I’m passionate about,” said Deloitte Consulting LLP Director Oliver Siodmak in the once grand but now aging George Washington High School auditorium where the student program was held.

“Everyone has potential.” Help people meet their potential. Share your talents, time or voice.

Struggling Students Score Scholarships that May Change Their Lives

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Senior Awards Dinner 6-12-14By Alice Kenny

Three students from Washington Heights where the per-capita income is half that of the rest of New York City received a surprise at their Senior Awards Dinner last Thursday, June 12, that may well change their lives.

The students, former participants in Catholic Charities Alianza division GPS program, short for Graduate, Prepare, Succeed, were each handed $20,000 Presidential Scholarships to attend City College in the fall ’14. As the scholarships show, the GPS program designed to provide key support to promote higher education for low income teens clearly succeeded.

Guillermo Rivera, admissions counselor at City College, gave the awards to High School for Media and Communications Seniors Katherine Burgos, Nestor Ramos, and Jordi Caceres, praising them for their resiliency and perseverance.

“The night was filled with pride, joy, and a lot of excitement,” said Catholic Charities Alianza GPS Program Director Pierina De La Cruz. “And the night could not have ended on a better note!”

Teens Solve Murder Mystery

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

By Alice Kennystudents-science

The Washington Heights teens had a murder to solve.

  •      The Victim: a female college student.
  •      The Suspects:  a classmate, a tutor and a boyfriend.
  •      The Clues:
    •      skin fragments, perhaps the murderers, beneath the victims fingernails
    •      blood on the furniture
    •      foot prints on the carpet.

The investigators, nearly two dozen high school students in all, piled into a bus that brought them from Washington Heights where per-capita income is half the New York average to the forensic lab at Stony Brook, one of the top state universities in New York.

The students participate in the Catholic Charities Alianza Division GPS-GW program at the High School for Media and Communications.  The program provides key support to promote higher education for low-income teens.  The event, hosted by Catholic Charities Alianza Division and sponsored by Stony Brook Center for Science and Math Education and the United Way, was designed to encourage these teens to consider as a career the up-and-coming field of biotechnology.

To solve the murder mystery, students applied the scientific method.  They evaluated evidence, formed a hypothesis, planned and performed experiments and analyzed results.

So who was the murderer?  Not again!

You guessed it… the boyfriend.

Struggling Teens Explore Careers in Engineering

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Teens from Washington Heights, where per–capita income is half the New York average, balanced on scaffolding, learned the rudiments of how to build a high rise that won’t fall down and took their first steps towards becoming engineers at Liberty Science Center last Saturday, April 19, 2014.

The event, hosted by Catholic Charities Alianza Division and sponsored by the Society of Hispanic Professionals in Engineering, was designed to motivate minority students to explore the possibility of pursuing careers in engineering. Students from the High School for Media and Communications GPS program – short for Graduate, Prepare and Succeed – that participate in Catholic Charities’ Alianza Dominicana were bused from Washington Heights to the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City. There they met with engineering professionals who answered questions and peeked students’ curiosity as they explored the 300,000 square foot learning center.

Next up for these students is Engineering Day on Saturday, May 10. Also held also at the Liberty Science Center, teens will team up to build their own machines. These engineering immersion experiences fit the mission of Catholic Charities Alianza Dominicana, to assist children, youth and families break the cycle of poverty and fulfill their potential as members of the global economy.

Washington Heights Students Go for the Gold

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Teenagers from the streets of Washington Heights grabbed first through sixth prizes in La Plaza Beacon’s Reading for Success Contest. Designed to develop students’ reading comprehension and expand their futures, the prizes tantalized more than a dozen participants, spurring students in this low-income neighborhood to score well on the annual New York State English Language Arts (ELA) exam.

For weeks, participants completed their homework at La Plaza Beacon, part of Catholic Charities’ Alianza Division.

Contest participants then broke into teams of three or four to complete reading and comprehension quizzes and perfect their skills writing essays.

The winner not only scored a top grade on the ELA exam but a restaurant dinner as well. Second-through-sixth place winners celebrated with a pizza party.

La Plaza Beacon teens are now readying for a math contest to prepare them for the upcoming New York State Mathematics Exam later this month.

La Plaza Beacon provides a safe, supervised after-school setting for neighborhood youth. Along with tutoring and homework help, it also offers cultural activities, arts and recreation.

From Bangladesh Factory Fires to Oklahoma Tornadoes, JustLove Tackles the Toughest Topics

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Miss Oklahoma, Anna-Marie Costello, and her sister, Miss Teen Oklahoma

By Alice Kenny

Packing your car for a long summer drive and looking for an inspiring way to stay on top of the news?  From Bangladesh factory fires to Oklahoma tornadoes, JustLove radio tackles the toughest topics.

Listen to our recent episode as the show’s host, Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, calls in to Guatemala to speak with Armando Secaira, Program Manager for Catholic Relief Service, about his work preventing child labor abuse.

Learn from Eddie Silverio, Director of Youth Programs at Catholic Charities’ Alianza Division, about hot times, summer in the city and healthy day camp and job opportunities for more than 1,000 Bronx youth.

Find out from Sarah Labowitz, Research Scholar at the NYU Stern School of Business about working conditions and human rights violations at apparel factories including the Rana Plaza complex in Bangladesh where a recent fire stole the lives of more than 1,000 workers.

And check out Miss Oklahoma, Anna-Marie Costello, and her sister, Miss Teen Oklahoma, Caitlin Costello, as they recount close calls with tornadoes back home and how this influenced their passion for charity.

So rev up your car, turn on the AC and tune in to JustLove on The Catholic Channel 129, SIRIUS XM Satellite Radio.

Annual College and Career Day at The High School for Media & Communications

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

On Wednesday, March 13th, Catholic Charities Alianza Division sponsored the Annual College and Career Day at The High School for Media & Communications to promote higher education among young people in the Washington Heights school community.

Throughout the day, volunteers spoke to classes about their careers and backgrounds and answered questions about their day-to-day work, motivating students to be excited about their education and job prospects and encouraging them to think about their futures.

On Thursday, more volunteers gave career presentations to students at the Innovation Diploma Plus High School Learning to Work program.

What advice would you give to a high school student about preparing for the future?

Washington Heights Teens Stage Their Own Red Carpet Event

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

 By Alice Kenny

Mimicking Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Daddy Yankee and more, middle school-aged students took charge of their first ever “Red Carpet”  in Washington Heights, an Oscar-inspired event held on February 15 by La Plaza Beacon Afterschool Program.   The students – 90 in total – also directed, worked as stage hands and videotaped the program.

La Plaza Beacon is part of Catholic Charities’ Alianza Division.  During after-school hours, La Plaza Beacon’s  school-based community center transforms a local school into a thriving neighborhood center. It provides a safe, supervised place where youth go for recreation, cultural activities, homework help and tutoring.

“The Red Carpet event was magic,” La Plaza Beacon Director Leonardo Dominguez said.  “We gave them technical support and advise; they learned how to put together a huge event like this by themselves.”

Share Your Job Insights; Help a High School Student Discover a Career

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

 By Alice Kenny

Catholic Charities Alianza Division is sponsoring Career Days on Wednesday, March 13 and Thursday, March 14 to help high school students at its Washington Heights campus discover potential careers.

We would be honored to have you join us on these special days to share your experiences and knowledge to our students.

Choose the day that works best for youor come to both:

The Annual College and Career Day

When:  Wednesday, March 13, 2013, from 8:00 AM – 11:30 AM

Where:  The High School for Media & Communication

Why:  To promote higher education among young people in our Washington Heights school community.

What: Conduct two classroom presentations during second and third period classes. During each presentation, you will have the opportunity to impact young peoples’ lives.

Fun Details:  Breakfast will be served in the conference room between 8:00am-8:45am.

Types of Professions:  We are looking for professionals in the field of Media, Arts, Music, Law, Social Service, Fire fighters, lawyers, etc.

Learn more

—-AND—

Career Day Presenters at Innovation Diploma Plus

When:  Thursday, March 14, 2013, from 8:30 AM – 3:00 PM

Where:  Innovation Diploma Plus High School Learning to Work program, an in-depth job readiness and career exploration program.

Why:  To share various levels of professions and fields

What:  Volunteers will be expected to discuss their career/field of work for 10 – 15 minutes to a small classroom of students.  Each presenter should be able to stay for three periods.

Fun Details:  The more engaging the presentation, the better. Each classroom is equipped with a smart board and arrangements to use this equipment may be arranged.  Professionals must be comfortable presenting in front of an audience of 15 – 21 year olds.

Types of Professions presented in previous career days:  Personal Trainers, Law Enforcement, Choreography, Radiology, Culinary Arts, etc.

Learn more