Diving Deep in the Zone
Why We Need Collective Impact Now  
by Anthony Lopez, Executive Director

I mean, let me be honest. So, my family, I’m the first one who’s going to college and I plan on going to college because I want to be the first one in my family to get a degree and make my family proud. And I don’t know, I guess I just have to, like I don’t really talk with anyone about it, and I don’t really know much about it, but I mean I learned a few things from Let’s Get Ready. You know, financial aid and you know, how the school life is.”                                    
--11th Grader, Long Island City High School


When I accepted the Executive Director position for Zone 126, I knew coming in that this assignment would require me to put thirty years of non-profit executive leadership to the test but every time I learn how our work touches the lives of youth like the student quoted above, I know I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.
                         
Astoria and Long Island City’s schools and youth-serving organizations should benefit from changes happening in their neighborhood due to unprecedented gentrification. Even though the work is complex, and the relationships are complicated, we have started the conversation about the future but need to work together to achieve a common goal: get more students graduating high school, into college or the workforce and overtime, out of poverty.
                         
Moving forward, Zone 126 will lead efforts with “all in” school and non-profit partners to:

    1. Effectively frame the importance of community-generated approaches as critical to       ensuring that collective impact efforts can be achieved and sustained over time;

    2. Address the reality that investing in programs or services alone has not led to more       desired outcomes for neighborhood youth;

   3. Realize that being disciplined in using data across similar and cross-sector partners        are better investments for assessing impact.

Preliminary findings for our work at both Renewal Community Schools, (CS 111Q and Long Island City High School) show that we have begun to lay the foundation for growth. We dare to ask schools and community residents “what do you need” and do our best work with partners or our staff to deliver responsibly. Our work is also making it clear that educators and families are craving another voice in their schools and communities—their own and non-profits like Zone 126 are stepping in to fill that void. To paraphrase Pope Francis in his recent Ted Talk, “we can turn enough you’s into us and begin a revolution.

News from the Zone
Pipeline Update
Balancing Academic and Social Needs in the Pre-K Classroom
by Katherine Ray, Community School Coordinator PS 111Q & PS 76Q
Above: NYU ParentCorps' puppet teaching aid, Jayda, is used to discuss appropriate behaviors  

As PS 112Q was just beginning its spring implementation of NYU’s ParentCorps, I sat down with veteran Pre-K teacher Ms. Jennifer Immello to get her perspective on the program’s impact on her students. This is the school’s second year of implementing ParentCorps, a family-centered, school-based program to help pre-K students develop the foundational skills for learning. Ms. Immello explained that because there are so many different standards and benchmarks her students are expected to meet between the Division of Early Childhood Education (DECE), the Early Childhood Environmental Rating System (ECERS), and the Department of Education, it can be hard to balance what her students need academically with what they need socially.

Ms. Immello believes that the program strengthens the home-school connection by helping young children feel more comfortable in a structured and supportive learning environment while also keeping the families more involved in their children’s education. She says the children are very enthusiastic in learning about nutrition during the program’s Food Review, and they often chat about “Go” and "Whoa" foods during snack and lunchtime. The children enjoy the consistency of the program, and the use of the puppet (which her class named Jayda) aids in modeling appropriate behaviors for students and adds an extra element of engagement for them. Ms. Immello has noted significant progress in her students with NYU ParentCorps - both socially and academically - and she looks forward to seeing continued improvement in the weeks to come.  
🐰 An EGG-Stravaganza 🐣
by Claudia Esteva, Community School Director CS 111Q

On Friday April 7th, The Jacob Blackwell School CS 111Q hosted its first EGG-Stravaganza, an egg hunt for Pre-K through 2nd grade scholars! The CS 111Q team came together with Long Island City High School Q450 students to bridge the gap between our young scholars and their older counterparts. Our Q450 bunny buddies (all volunteers were given bunny ears to be easily identified) helped stuff over 800 pastel colored eggs and shipped them over to CS 111Q the night before as the library and dance room were being prepped for Friday's event. The rooms were covered with banners, colorful grass, and many, many eggs! The first two scholars per grade to find a golden egg and the first to find eight eggs received book prizes! After hunting, all scholars lined up to enjoy cookies and milk, followed by an arts and crafts table.

The event was perfectly executed allowing for hours of hunting, eating, and coloring. Our high school bunny buddies helped our little ones hunt for their eggs and truly showed that fun has no age limits! This is the first of many events to come while building the Pre-K through 12th grade bridge from CS 111Q to Long Island City High School. We can't wait for next year's EGG-Stravaganza! 

A First College Campus Tour for Many
by Jocelyn Rosa, College Impact Specialist
Above: Long Island City High School juniors at SUNY Purchase
On Thursday, March 2nd, 2017, twenty five juniors, who participated in the Let’s Get Ready SAT Prep program at Long Island City High School visited SUNY Purchase College. This was a first experience for many of the students, as students had not yet had the experience of visiting a college outside New York City. The trip began with a welcoming information session that provided them with information about the school. Then, SUNY Purchase students guided LICHS students through a one hour tour of the campus, ending with lunch in one of the dining halls.

Throughout the trip, students discussed their impressions amongst each other. They commented on the beauty of the campus and their appreciation of the entire trips’ experience. Several students mentioned that the trip had opened their minds about applying to schools away from home.

Aside from visiting colleges and college fairs, the Zone 126 college team at Long Island City High School has been sending them useful information and scholarships via email. Our connection with our students doesn't end when programs are over. 

Exploring the Home-School Connection
by Andre Stith, Organizing Director
Above: Executive Director Tony Lopez engaging the audience about making the home-school connection

On Saturday, March 25, 2017, Zone 126 hosted our quarterly Cradle to Career Convening. The theme of the home school connection and community anchors, such as libraries and community centers working to support student learning was a key concept discussed. After the Convening families, schools and CBO partners gathered in the gym for a Zone 126 Share Fair to learn about cradle to career programs available in the Zone throughout the year. 

Save the Date
Let's Get Ready at Long Island City High School Closing
Wednesday, May 10th, 2017
5:00 PM to 7:30 PM
CS 111Q Community School Forum
Thursday, May 18, 2017
5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Long Island City High School Annual Community School Breakfast
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
June Cradle to Career Convening
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
9:00 AM to 11:00 AM

What We Are Reading

  • Summer Melt: Supporting Low-Income Students Through Transitions to College, Benjamin L. Castelman and Lindsay C. Page 
  • Radical Imagination, Radical Humanity: Puerto Rican Political Activism in New York, Rose Muzio 

Check Out Our Monthly Social Media Themes!

Follow us at @Zone126Queens on Instagram and Twitter!

What Our Partners Are Doing
We would like to thank all of our funders for all their help: Thomas & Jeanne Elmezzi Foundation, New York City Department of Education, Altman Foundation, Pinkerton Foundation and Staples Foundation.