Archive for the ‘News’ Category

A Conversation With NY Knicks Legend John Starks

Posted on: August 19th, 2020 by New York Edge No Comments

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, John Starks came to personify New York City as one of the most beloved New York Knicks players of all time. Since retiring from the game, Starks brings the tenacity he brought to the court to philanthropy. For the past 5 years, he has served on the Board of Directors of the Garden of Dreams Foundation, and has been involved with the Foundation since its inception in 2006. The Foundation, in partnership with MSG Entertainment, MSG Sports and MSG Networks, provides young people with life-changing access to educational and skills opportunities; mentoring programs; and memorable experiences that enhance their lives, help shape their futures and create lasting joy.

Starks shares, “When they first asked me to be a member of the Board, I felt that it was right up my alley. I have always wanted to help people and the Garden of Dreams Foundation accomplishes this in such a significant way. It means so much to be part of an effort to give back to the community that has given us so much for so long. Our focus is on kids and families in need and being able to help brighten their lives is incredibly uplifting to me.” Starks’ work in the community is not limited to the boardroom. He regularly visits kids in the hospital and has developed lasting relationships with their families. “Visiting those kids and seeing them smile despite what they are going through, has changed my entire perspective on life,” he says.

Starks attributes both his desire to help others and his tenacity to his mother, who raised 5 sons and 2 daughters as a single parent. She had help from his grandmother, who Starks says was only 5 feet tall, but could inspire fear in her grandsons. He recalls with a chuckle, “My Grandmother was like E.F. Hutton. When she talked; we listened.” Being raised by two strong, outspoken women taught the siblings to speak up for what is right. But it is his mother that Starks credits for his tenacity. “I saw my mother fight and scratch to keep her kids clothed and fed—and with 5 boys in the house, food ran out quickly. I saw how she never gave up and that is where I get my tenacity from.”

Life, he says, is like a basketball game. It can start off rocky and then smooth out. The key is to stay focused; to stay in the game and never give up. Starks remembers struggling to focus when he was going to school hungry. His childhood experiences provide a powerful connection to the kids that he and his colleagues at the Foundation are working to support. Starks wants kids to know that he is a living example of what staying focused and putting in the hard work can do. His journey began at age 7, when he first dunked a basketball by jumping off an oil can. The feeling of flying hooked him, and he never looked back. Now he works to provide kids with opportunities to discover their passions and be supported in pursuing them.

Unsurprisingly, the basketball great also talks about the importance of knowing when to pivot. “In my youth I had to make the difficult decision to leave behind some friends who weren’t taking me in the right direction. Sometimes you must look at the man in the mirror and make that tough decision for yourself. You have to be able to pivot to keep moving toward your goals.” Starks is proud of the way the Garden of Dreams Foundation pivoted to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, shifting funds initially earmarked for grants for improvements to physical spaces like courts, to instead provide immediate financial relief to its partners, including New York Edge, which the Foundation has long supported. Budget cuts have impacted summer camp programs this year, including New York Edge’s camps, and as part of the Garden of Dreams COVID Grant Program, the Foundation made a generous $100,000 grant to support NYE summer camp for 200 kids. “Everyone has been hit by this pandemic, but the communities New York Edge and the Foundation serve have been hit hardest. In these times, our Foundation has stepped up for youth by supporting the work of organizations like New York Edge. Together, we make a real impact on young people’s lives.”

In reflecting on his own journey, he recalls the days of being bussed from his neighborhood of North Tulsa to the predominantly white South Tulsa. On his very first day of junior high, Starks was kicked out for defending himself against a student who called him the n-word. He remembers the KKK burning crosses at his brothers’ football games to intimidate the Black players. The 7th grade was the first time Starks ever had a white coach. “Coach Hunt was a great man. I have so much respect for him. He treated all the players like we were his sons and his son was on the team. That taught me a lot about relationships and that people can work together no matter the color of your skin.”

While his hometown has changed, more change is needed there and across the country. Starks is inspired by the youth speaking truth to power and advocating for Black lives. “There is no place for what happened [to George Floyd] in Minneapolis. It has galvanized the world and it is good to see people coming together to say, ‘enough is enough.’ It is good for children to see that we are in this fight together,” Stark shares. “As a parent, you want your child to feel safe every time they walk out the door. For that to happen, we have to do better. We have to respect all citizens and protect their rights.”

The power of teamwork is evident across Stark’s work at the Foundation. Starks marvels at the dedication of the Board and staff at the Garden of Dreams. “I think we are able to make such a significant impact because we are so focused on our work to uplift lives and because we listen to our partners and the community and respond in meaningful ways.” Stark shares special words of praise for the staff, “They put their heart and soul into everything they do for the Foundation. Our staff makes sure the impact is known and felt by the community. Our accomplishments would not be possible without the staff on the ground. I take my hat off to them.”

Nonprofit Talk: Fostering opportunities for children during a pandemic

Posted on: June 23rd, 2020 by New York Edge No Comments

Queens Daily Eagle, June 19, 2020

While New York Edge quickly adapted to challenging circumstances, we simultaneously developed a longer-term plan that would address summer for the 40,000 students we serve. We developed a trauma-informed curriculum for this summer’s programs that can be delivered online, or if possible, in person with numerous measures to create safe learning spaces for students in accordance with public health and safety rules. [read more]

NYC youth programs face job cuts as budget details remain unknown

Posted on: June 11th, 2020 by New York Edge No Comments

Chalkbeat,

“Right now, this is catastrophic,” said Rachael Gazdick, CEO of New York Edge, the city’s largest provider of after-school programs, who told its 1,700 employees this week that they will move to a two-day work week on June 29. [read more]

Actor and Musician Steven Van Zandt Reflects on His Incredible Career, Marriage and TeachRock

Posted on: May 26th, 2020 by New York Edge No Comments

Closer Weekly,

Why are you teaming with New York Edge to give NYC students new programming? 

To reach their 100,000 students. Our music history curriculum (available at teachrock.org) has almost 200 lessons online, and we’ve registered 30,000 teachers. We’re already prepared for everybody homeschooling now! We exist to help teachers with tools and fun lessons that meet school standards. Read the full article here.

What will NYC kids do this summer?

Posted on: May 26th, 2020 by New York Edge No Comments

City & State NY, May 11, 2020

Summer camps and public beaches in New York City could close. The city’s public pools have already been shuttered for the summer. And despite receiving some backlash, New York City’s summer youth employment program will probably remain canceled.

The summer is shaping up to be a somber experience for the city’s youth as the COVID-19 crisis drags on. Some programs, such as summer camps, are nearly impossible to implement in a way that allows children to stay at least 6 feet apart from each other. And as the city and state face massive budget shortfalls, funding programs to keep kids engaged is not a top priority for elected officials. Read the full article here.

Afterschool Programs Help NYC Kids ‘Rock Out’ Across the Boroughs

Posted on: May 3rd, 2020 by New York Edge No Comments

The coronavirus pandemic is not stopping thousands of underprivileged New York City school students from virtually ‘rocking out’ across the five boroughs after-school. Read the full article here.

New York Edge Asks City Council to Resist Call for Cuts to Summer Programs

Posted on: May 3rd, 2020 by New York Edge No Comments

Following school closures in March, the organization has successfully moved its programming online, and is positioned to provide virtual enrichment if gathering in large groups is not permitted by summer. Read the full article here.

New York City’s Largest Afterschool & Summer Camp Provider Calls on City Council to Resist Cuts to Essential Programs

Posted on: April 23rd, 2020 by New York Edge No Comments

New York Edge Offers Alternatives to Traditional Summer Camp to Help Parents and Caregivers Return to Work 

In a letter to New York City Council members, New York Edge – the City’s largest provider of afterschool and summer programming – is urging the Council to resist funding cuts to summer programs proposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio. The organization also provided alternatives to traditional summer camps that would ensure students have access to enriching programs that will prepare them for the next school year, while helping caregivers as they prepare to return to work. 

We stand ready to serve our students and families this summer, and we need the continued support and funding of the City to make programs available this year in accordance with public health and safety rules.”

Rachael Gazdick, CEO of New York Edge

“After this extended period of virtual learning and social distancing, our city’s youth need and deserve enjoyable summer programming. And as we begin to reopen our economy, parents and caregivers will need safe, educational programs for their children,” said Rachael Gazdick, CEO of New York Edge, in the letter. “We stand ready to serve our students and families this summer, and we need the continued support and funding of the City to make programs available this year in accordance with public health and safety rules.”

Following school closures in March, the organization successfully moved its afterschool academic, arts, health and wellness, and college readiness programs online, and is positioned to provide virtual summer enrichment that promotes collaboration and empowerment while reinforcing academic progress.

New York Edge has been formulating a trauma-informed approach to summer camp that can be delivered online, or – if it becomes possible – in person with additional measures to support social distancing. The letter outlines the organization’s plans if it is possible for the public to gather in July or August, proposing running summer camps at the New York City schools that provide grab-and-go meals. New York Edge would create camps of 50 children and divide them into groups of five with one adult to each group, and would adhere to physical distancing by providing each child with their own individual learning pack.

“We completely grasp the financial challenges our city is facing today, but our economy simply will not be able to reopen if parents and caregivers do not have the peace of mind knowing their children are being taken care of. With the closures of New York City public pools, beaches and playgrounds, for tens of thousands of working families across the city, afterschool and summer camp programs would be the only options they have for their children,” added Gazdick. “This funding will not only serve our youth and their parents, it will also preserve the infrastructure of important nonprofit organizations like ours, which will be needed more than ever this fall.”

For more than 25 years, New York Edge has addressed the needs and goals of under-resourced schools through customized, curriculum-based afterschool programming. Today, the nonprofit provides more than 40,000 students in grades K-12 with rigorous, innovative programs designed to give them the edge needed to succeed.

About New York Edge

New York Edge, formerly known as the Sports & Arts in Schools Foundation (SASF), is a non-profit organization and the largest provider of afterschool programs in all five boroughs of New York City and the metropolitan region. With more than 40,000 students from over 300 programs in grades K-12, the organization provides under-resourced students with year-round programs to give them the edge needed to succeed. newyorkedge.org

New York City Students are Ready to Rock & Roll With Launch of Virtual Music-Driven Afterschool Program

Posted on: April 2nd, 2020 by New York Edge No Comments

New York Edge partners with Steven Van Zandts Rock and Roll Forever Foundation to provide NYC students with enrichment programming amid Coronavirus school closures

New York City public school students from New York Edge – the largest provider of afterschool programming in the City – will now have access to free afterschool programs from the safety of their homes during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) school closures, as the organization joins forces with the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation to launch their program, TeachRock, across the five boroughs. The launch is part of New York Edge’s move to online afterschool programming in response to COVID-19. 

“We’re happy to partner with New York Edge to use the power of music to help keep students in New York City engaged, emotionally healthy, and learning.”

Little Stevie Van Zandt

The Rock and Roll Forever Foundation – founded by multi-platinum artist, producer, songwriter, and entrepreneur Little Stevie Van Zandt – is dedicated to improving student outcomes by using popular music to create interdisciplinary, culturally responsive education materials. New York Edge’s students will have opportunities to engage in continued learning remotely through the organization’s TeachRock Distance Learning Packs, which feature music-driven activities and projects for K-12 students. The virtual initiative is part of New York Edge’s mission to provide innovative afterschool programming that is designed to improve academic performance, health and wellness, and self-confidence.

New York Edge CEO Rachael Gazdick spoke with 1010 WINS about the organization’s partnership with Steven Van Zandt’s Rock and Roll Forever Foundation to launch virtual music-driven afterschool programming for
New York Edge’s students during the COVID-19 school closures.

“This is an unprecedented and uncomfortable time, and educators have provided structure, emotional support, and a reassuring sense of normalcy to our children as we’ve transitioned to a period of social distance. But kids don’t thrive in isolation,” said Little Stevie Van Zandt, founder of the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation. “Music can connect us, even when we can’t be together. TeachRock curriculum has always used music to foster connections between students and teachers, and we’re happy to partner with New York Edge to use the power of music to help keep students in New York City engaged, emotionally healthy, and learning.”

“Now more than ever, it is critically important for youth to have access to enriching programs that will motivate them to remain focused, continue learning, and lead healthy lifestyles during this extended period at home,” said Rachael Gazdick, CEO of New York Edge. “We are proud to partner with the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation to launch TeachRock online. Together, we will ignite students’ intellectual curiosity and support their success as they explore the universal language of music.” 

The Rock and Roll Forever Foundation’s TeachRock.org website provides nearly 200 free standards-aligned lesson plans for K-12 students that use popular music to introduce key concepts in social studies, language arts, STEAM, math, general music, and art, as well as social emotional learning. Their Distance Learning Packs highlight project-based learning, collaboration, and communication, authentic assessment strategies such as art, podcasts or videos, and include clear, concise instructions that empower non-educator family members to help students succeed. 

For more than 25 years, New York Edge has addressed the needs and goals of under-resourced schools through customized, curriculum-based afterschool programming. Today, the nonprofit provides more than 40,000 students in grades K-12 with rigorous, innovative programs designed to give them the edge needed to succeed.

About New York Edge

New York Edge, formerly known as the Sports & Arts in Schools Foundation (SASF), is a non-profit organization and the largest provider of afterschool programs in all five boroughs of New York City and the metropolitan region. With more than 40,000 students from over 300 programs in grades K-12, the organization provides under-resourced students with year-round programs to give them the edge needed to succeed. www.newyorkedge.org

About Rock and Roll Forever Foundation
Steven Van Zandt’s Rock and Roll Forever Foundation empowers teachers and engages students by using popular music to create interdisciplinary, culturally responsive education materials for all 21st-century classrooms. The nearly 200 standards-aligned lesson plans in the RRFF’s TeachRock curriculum foster learning through arts integration in areas including social studies, language arts, STEAM, general music, art, math, and more. From The Beatles to Beyoncé, from early elementary to AP History—TeachRock offers engaging and meaningful material for nearly every classroom, all at no cost to educators. TeachRock is used by more than 30,000 educators across all 50 states. Since 2017, Little Stevie and TeachRock staff have offered face-to-face professional development to nearly 10,000 teachers.