2016 Community Partnership Award Winners
NATIONAL AWARD-WINNING PROGRAM
GOVERNOR HUGH L. CAREY AWARD RECIPIENT
East Harlem Center for Living and Learning
In a world often separated by race, culture and economic opportunity, sports have the power to bring people together. With intrinsic values of teamwork, fairness, discipline and respect, sports can speak to us in a language that unites rather than divides. As Nelson Mandela once said, "Sport can create hope where once there was only despair." Harlem RBI, a unique community-based organization, proves the point.
Founded in 1991 when local volunteers transformed a garbage-strewn lot into two baseball diamonds in East Harlem, New York, Harlem RBI provides inner-city children with opportunities to play, learn and grow through after-school and summer enrichment programs. In 2008, Harlem RBI responded to failing schools by founding DREAM Charter School and, in 2013, by expanding its proven model into the South Bronx.
DREAM Charter School was opened in a temporary space provided by New York City's Department of Education. Recognizing the need for a permanent home, Harlem RBI – with the help of Jonathan Rose Companies, a New York-based real estate company dedicated to revitalizing city neighborhoods – initiated a visionary public/private partnership that combined Harlem RBI's need for school facilities with the New York City Housing Authority's (NYCHA's) interest in increasing low-income housing.
The resulting East Harlem Center for Living and Learning opened in 2015 and includes a 450-seat public charter school, with 50% of kindergarten seats reserved for students living in NYCHA residences; after-school and summer program space serving more than 1,800 kids each year; 89 units of affordable housing; a revitalized public park and community space; and ongoing job opportunities for local residents and youth.
"Since 2005, 97% of Harlem RBI seniors have graduated high school, 99% have avoided teen pregnancy and 94% have been accepted to college," said Richard Berlin, Executive Director. "By linking baseball, education and social services, the East Harlem Center for Living and Learning is building a community invested in its own future. It's a model that we hope will inspire other underresourced neighborhoods do the same."
Jonathan Rose Companies
New York City Housing Authority
New York City Department of Education
New York, New York