Director's Corner

During this mid-year period many exciting opportunities and accomplishments came to fruition.  Alianza Youth Services is one of five organizations from New York chosen for a national initiative to eliminate absenteeism. The Work, Learn and Grow, (WLG), and La Plaza Youth Council participated in a Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) during Advocacy Day in Albany to voice their views on the importance of more funding for SYEP. These youth activists met with State Assembly and Senate members as well Speaker of the NYS Assembly,  Carl Heastie, to pleaded their case Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer appointed four Alianza youth to her newly formed Council of Youth Leaders of Manhattan. For the first time Alianza Youth Services Division and the Cultural Center participated in the SOMOS, Now! Conference in Albany. I am thrilled that our Saturday Night Lights (SNL) program won the High School Division Championship in the PAL Tournament and that the Cornerstone youth won 1st Place in the citywide 3 on 3 tournament.
But what I am extremely proud of is the fact we graduated 15 students in our mid-year graduation in February. To date, six are scheduled to attend college in the City of New York University (CUNY) system. The remaining graduates are currently gainfully employed. And a few are waiting to hear from trade schools to see if they were accepted for the following semester. These are students that in any other setting would fall through the cracks. Every year unique situations occur with our participants that may jeopardize on-time graduation or academic success. Whether it's a personal, health, social or academic issues, the leadership and staff of Alianza prides itself in the holistic approach in takes to insure positive outcomes.
This year Alondra Vasquez, one of our In-School Youth (ISY) participants from our Washington Heights program, truly exemplifies the "it takes a village" philosophy to the educational success of our participants. Taking into account Ms. Vasquez's personal, social and academic development and potential to succeed, she was transferred to our Learning-To-Work (LTW) program to insure that she graduates on time and is prepared for the workforce. At our Annual Career Day, I saw her confidently engaging potential employers. She expressed how happy she is receiving the help she needs to keep her focused. Thanks to the ISY director and youth advocate and the LTW staff that keep tabs on her, Alondra Vasquez is on track to graduate on time, contemplating attending college and is prepared for the workforce. This collective of teachers, counselors, advisors, programs and services is what makes Alianza Youth Services Division one of New York's premier and successful youth organizations.

Eddie Silverio, Director, Alianza Youth Services, CCCS

High School for Health Careers & Sciences Host Attendance Acknowledgement Breakfast 

Perfect Attendance Recognized 

In early March, the High School for Health Careers and Sciences hosted a breakfast for students with perfect and most improved attendance. Students were congratulated for their achievement with a home cooked breakfast and musical entertainment. Faculty and staff made the event special by awarding students with medals and raffling off sweatshirts, gift cards and t-shirts. The importance of this event was to shine a positive light on students that love and enjoy attending school.
National Supermarket Association Donates Toys To Participants With Perfect School Attendance
In late March, Catholic Charities and the National Supermarket Association, (NSA) partnered to reward and recognize Alianza Youth Services Division participants with perfect school attendance.  At the surprise event in the Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center in Washington Heights, the NSA donated toys to 100 students, in first to fifth grades, and 25 students in middle school for their perfect attendance record and to encourage them continue on their successful academic path. Additional $25 gift cards to Toys R Us were distributed.
"The NSA takes great pride in giving back to the communities we serve. Under NSA Cares, we are reassuring our communities, that we are not only a place to shop for your groceries but that we also deeply care about our neighbors - we are long-term partners. We are very grateful for this opportunity to partner with Catholic Charities and bring smiles and joy to children from our communities," said Rudy Fuertes, NSA President.
"Catholic Charities has children who deserve to be rewarded, and we are grateful for the NSA partnership that allows us to recognize these exceptional children," said Luz Tavarez-Salazar, Director of Government and Community Relations.  "Having partnerships with organizations with the resources to provide gifts to these children is key," she added. "This collaboration was a perfect fit."
NYS Senator Adriano Espaillat attended the event and congratulated the students for their achievement and encouraged them to keep up the good work.  He also helped distribute the toys. 
Alianza Youth Named to the Council of Young Leaders of Manhattan 

Established by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer 

The Council of Young Leaders of Manhattan, composed entirely of young people ages 14 - 18, will meet regularly to discuss the issues that are affecting people their age who live, work, go to school, or belong to an organization in Manhattan. These young leaders will be able to address policy and budget concerns affecting Manhattan's young people. Members will have the opportunity to draft and pass resolutions, serve on committees, and learn how local government works. Their volunteer time commitment will be an estimated 5 to 10 hours a month. They will work with local officials and staff of City agencies to affect change and make a difference.

Students of the High School for Media & Communications and the High School for Health & Career Services, (pictured from L to R ) Darlenys Nuñez, Brian Zarauela, Tatyana Kennedy, and Alisa Carrasco (not shown) and have been named to the newly formed Council of Young Leaders of Manhattan.
"It is my pleasure to establish the Council of Young Leaders of Manhattan. I want to give you,the borough's young people, tools, knowledge, and a megaphone to speak to your government on the issues that matter to you."

- Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer
Young Men's Initiative at Highbridge Gardens Cornerstone
Make a Difference In the Fight Against Hunger in NYC

Yancarlos Sosa , (center) and James Lewis, (right) participant of the YMI's at Highbridge Gardens Cornerstone repack food for distribution to pantries around the City.
In mid-April, three participants of the Highbridge Gardens Cornerstone Young Men's Initiative (YMI) program spent their Saturday volunteering at the Food Bank for New York City's Hunts Point Food Warehouse, where the core operation of food storage and distribution is done. The YMI helped the warehouse staff sort and repack bulk shipped food and goods for redistribution to pantries around the City that will provide food for New Yorkers in need throughout the five boroughs. 

Food Bank personnel explained that volunteers play a critical role in its fight against hunger and make operations possible at the Food Bank Warehouse. The Highbridge Gardens Cornerstone YMI and the Food Bank partnership is one with the highest impact for the young men that volunteer their time. The Food Bank reports that right now, in New York City, 2.6 million New Yorkers have difficulty affording food. Food Bank procures, stores and distributes more than 60 million pounds of healthy food every year to approximately 1,000 citywide organizations including schools, food pantries, soup kitchens, senior centers, after-school programs, daycare centers and many more.
"I feel good when I volunteer for the food bank. I don't mind giving up my Saturdays because I know that what I am doing is really helping people that don't have enough to eat and that's important to me," said Yancarlos Sosa
Alianza Youth Take Over The SOMOS Conference
With A Little Merengue & Pride In Their Culture

For the first time ever, Catholic Charities Community Services Alianza Youth Services Division and participants of the Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center (ADCC) Conjunto Folklórico Ensemble and staff attended the SOMOS el Futuro Spring Conference in Albany the weekend of March 18 th - 20 th , 2016.
The presence of the Alianza Youth Services definitely made an impact.  With bachata and merengue music seeping through every nook and cranny of the Empire State Plaza in Albany and colorful orange, red, yellow and electric blue hand-made Mascaras de Carnaval made by students of the ADCC, stopped hundreds of visitors in their tracks.  Osaliki Sepulveda and Domingo Cruz charmed the crowd with their knowledge of the festive cultural traditions of the Dominican Republic but also other Caribbean countries like Puerto Rico, Haiti, and Trinidad. They gave out ADCC events calendars as well as distributed Dominican artesanía, (hand-made Dominican cultural items).
The booth received VIP guests US Senator Kristin Gillibrand, Somos Chairman Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, NYS Comptroller Tom Di Napoli and NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer. They enjoyed taking selfies.  Needless to say, the ADCC booth was the hit of the booth exhibit area.
But the energy really kicked up a notch when the Conjunto Folklórico Ensemble arrived and performed at the booth and Dominican Reception sponsored by NYS Senator Adriano Espaillat.  The 18 members of Conjunto Folklórico traveled with the group's founder Leonardo Ivan Dominguez and artistic director Mangeli Rodriguez. Even Msgr. Sullivan showed his merengue moves.  The dance group took photos with NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez and NYS Senator Adriano Espaillat who sponsored their trip to Somos.
The Alianza Youth participants were also exposed to so much more.  They saw Juan Rosa, Community School Director of the CCCS Alianza Division eloquently and proudly speak about the success and importance of our community school at the George Washington High School Campus. Also, Executive Director of Catholic Charities Community Services Beatriz Diaz Taveras outlined the work Catholic Charities  does to assist the poor of our community with dignity and respect.  As the weekend came to an end, you could still hear and feel the echoes of the music and spirits of
Carnaval .

Youth Take A Stand at State Capitol

The younger and older youth participants at the SYEP Campaign at Albany, New York with Bobby Gates, Program Coordinator, Ilse Fajardo, Program Director, and Eddie Silverio, Division Director
The younger and the older youth participants of the Work, Learn and Grow Employment Program traveled to Albany, New York in early February to rally for the inclusion and allocation of money for additional SYEP job slots in the State's 4.2 million dollar budget. The additional 10,000 jobs will assist statewide youth ranging between the ages of 14 to 24. 

During this Youth Action Day participants had the opportunity to also meet State legislators and staff and speak on the value of SYEP. Each participant spoke about their summer employment experience and the difference it made on their lives, school and future plans. SYEP jobs prepare youth for future careers and college. Many youth assist in the day-to-day administration of summer programs which gives the younger youth the opportunity to learn from their older peers. Last summer, 131, 897 young people applied in New York City alone! A staggering 77, 634 youth applied but did not get the job due to lack of funding. SYEP jobs immediately help local communities and keep youth active and off the streets.
It was exciting to undergo this experience and to meet NYS legislators and staff that make decisions. I felt I was making a difference by telling these important people about my summer youth employment and what SYEP means to me. I want to go next year!"Sheliah Thomas, WLG participant
MOSAIC Beacon Family Night

Designed to Bring Families Together & Build Active School Community

Each month MOSAIC Beacon invites students, parent and family members to enjoy a night of arts, crafts, games and each other. Family Night encourages families to spend quality time with each other. In March, eight families designed picture frames with "In This Home" poems. Family Night at MOSAIC also encourages more involved and active school community.

"Family night was amazing! My godson Jayden, my daughter London and myself, had an awesome time making the family frame and bracelet. Family Night gives us more quality time to be together and share with one another. Quality time with the MOSAIC Family and getting to know the other parents is great for." - Nereida Figueroa
La Plaza Beacon Arts & Crafts Mask Making Program
Exhibit Creations At the New Offices of DYCD

Beautiful, colorful, Dominican heritage cultural festival masks made by the participants of the La Plaza Beacon "Arts and Crafts Mask Making" class are proudly being showcased on the 22nd floor of the newly opened Beacon Schools offices of DYCD on Lafayette Street in lower Manhattan. 

For 25 years, one of the most important programs provided by La Plaza Beacon has been the "Arts and Crafts Mask Making" classes. More than 2,000 children, youth and adults have been part of this program and their artistic creations have been on display in various organizations around the City including over five times at Hostos Community College in the Bronx. 

The classes are offered free for youth ages 13 to 21 on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6:30PM - 8:30PM at the Alianza Dominican Cultural Center in Washington Heights. Participants are paired with professional teaching artists to learn artistic, technical and developmental skills in creative areas from art pieces including mask making, carnival figurines to rural toy-making. There is also a free arts program on Saturdays from 10AM to 1PM that provides safe, creative and engaging environment for youth in two age groups 5-12 and 13-21. Focusing on 4 steps: creativity, cooperation, communication and confidence, the literacy-based program helps kids develop social and problem-solving skills, self-expression and artistic skills while creating a rewarding project.
Alianza Youth Services Celebrates Women's History Month

First African American Woman to Receive Ph.D in Mechanical Engineering from Howard University is a Source of Motivation to Youth

On April 1st  several participants of the Dyckman Beacon Young Women Rise Program attended a motivational presentation by Dr. Aprille Ericsson, the first African American woman to receive a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Howard University. The event took place at NYC Housing Authority's (NYCHA) central office in Manhattan. Dr. Ericson inspired the audience by speaking about her personal journey growing up in a NYCHA housing development in the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood, specifically, the Roosevelt projects on Dekalb Avenue in Brooklyn. She also spoke about her love for the sciences, earning her Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) obtaining a Masters of Engineering and Ph.D. proving that where you come from does not dictate your future. There are no limits to where you can go when you have the right resources and support. Dr. Ericsson is currently an aerospace engineer at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Maryland.
Prior to the formal presentation, participants from the Young Women on the Rise program had the unique opportunity to have a group mentoring session with Dr. Ericsson where they discussed their aspirations, dreams and future career goals.  Dr. Ericsson sparked great interest in these girls when she spoke about her interests growing up that it was not just science and that playing sports, specifically basketball was key to her development. The conversation became more animated and interesting to the girls when they realized that this was not some boring scientist but someone who shared common interests. Dr. Ericsson shared that her role model and most influential factors in her life was Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space, science teacher and physician.

Dr. Dan-el Padilla Peralta Author 

Captivates ISY Program Participants With His Lecture & Personal Story

In late March, 10 high school seniors in the ISY Program at the High School of Health Career and Sciences Community School attended a lecture by Dominican author Dr. Dan-el Padilla Peralta on his award-winning book Undocumented: A Dominican Boy's Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League. The book tells the story of an undocumented immigrant boy born in the Dominican Republic, who went from being part of NYC's shelter system to attending Collegiate, the oldest private school in the country on scholarship; to navigating the rough streets of East Harlem and the ultra-elite halls of the Manhattan private school; to coming out as an undocumented student in a Wall Street Journal profile a few months before he graduated top of his class from the Ivy League school, Princeton, and giving the salutatorian's traditional address in Latin at his commencement.
During the lecture Dr. Padilla Peralta touched on several topics such as the importance of an education, immigration reform and politics.  He also shared excerpts from his book, an incredible story that many in the audience related to.  After the lecture, participants had the opportunity to speak and meet with Dr. Padilla Peralta during his book signing.  Participants were excited and curious to learn more about him and his life.  They asked many questions and Dr. Padilla Peralta was thrilled in their interest and answered all their questions.
Former George Washington High School Graduate Gives Back

Dr. Richard Torres Inspires and Empowers Students

In late March, the High School for Heath Careers and Science in partnership with Catholic Charities Community Services hosted Dr. Richard Torres a 1984 graduate of George Washington High School. He recounted how he was inspired and impacted by Latino medical students who came to speak to his science class more than 30 years ago.

He said:
"I still remember like it was today, when some Latino medical school students from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine came to talk to our science class when I was a Junior or Senior a GWHS. I always remembered them when I was trying to make it in college. I started living by myself when I was 17. Even though I heard their stories about how they made it to medical school in a span of about 30 minutes, it always stuck in my mind that if they did it, I could also do it. One interesting thing is that I ended up getting a PhD from Einstein!" 
There is no doubt that Dr. Torres' personal story will also impact our student and be a source of inspiration and encouragement just like those medical students were for Dr. Torres.
Learning To Work Program 2016 Winter Graduation

In early February, the LTW program at the Innovation Diploma Plus High School hosted another successful Winter Graduation to celebrate twelve students who completed their high school education. It is the program's tradition to have a small intimate graduation with staff, families and friends. During this event all the graduates are given the opportunity to speak and recite a quote that has impacted their life. Family and friends of the students were also given the opportunity to express their emotions. The graduation was organized by the LTW program.
In-School Youth Program

ISY Winter 2016 YMCA Greenkill

In mid-February, 42 high school seniors in the ISY Program at the High School for Health Careers and Sciences went to the YMCA Greenkill camp for a two night, three-day retreat. Students participated in team building activities focused around identity and communication. Trip participants enjoyed hiking, campfires, dancing, and structured free time to hang out and bond. Throughout the retreat, ISY and YMCA staff emphasized the importance of timeliness, respect for others, and stepping outside of your comfort zone, all critical components of college readiness.

COMPASS Future Chess Masters

In early April, participants from COMPASS PS 132 and COMPASS Rangel Houses participated in DYCD's annual Chess Masters Tournament. The COMPASS teams competed with children from all over the city in the elementary novice level. Each of the seven participants that attended displayed a tremendous amount of sportsmanship and cheered each other on whether they won or lost.

DYCD staff including Michael Dogan and Patty Waters provided all of the participants with breakfast, lunch and snacks in between every round. At the conclusion of the event, every child received their own wooden chess set with a digital clock to use at home compliments of DYCD. Participants left the event with valuable gained experience, new friends and the desire to continue to compete in other chess tournaments.


During the month of March COMPASS PS 132 celebrated St. Patrick's Day and Easter with our program participants. 

On St. Patrick's Day the participants displayed their artistic skills while coloring their very own Leprechauns. During Holy week, the staff and participants decorated their own Easter eggs to celebrate the Easter holiday and as an added bonus, the participants made their very own Rice Krispies treats.

Kennedy Center Saturday Night Lights High Division Wins Citywide Tournament

Alianza Youth Division's SNL at the Kennedy Center participated in an all-day citywide basketball tournament in the Harlem Police Athletic League (PAL).

The Kennedy Center SNL team won the high school division of the Tournament defeating over 34 SNL's to become Champs!

Cornerstone Mentoring 3 on 3 Tournament A Huge Success

In early May and the Highbridge Gardens Cornerstone team became the champions of the 3 on 3 Tournament. The event was all about creating an atmosphere where mentees and mentors could experience moments that would challenge them, create sportsmanship, teamwork and develop character. DYCD plan these events with the goal to providing a safe and welcoming environment for the mentoring groups. The audience was also treated to a performance by "Mysterious Shawty'z" of Highbridge Gardens Cornerstone who graciously entertained during the half-time show.

Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center's Schedule

Saturdays, 10AM. to 3PM. Studio-A and Studio-B (Cellar Space) Participants are committed to performance development and ensembles.
Wednesdays, 6:30PM to 8:30PM. Multi-use Gallery Space
Development sessions: percussion instruction, dance techniques, stage movements and literacy instructions.

Mondays and Wednesday, 6:30-8:30PM
Saturdays, 10:00AM to 1:00PM, Arts Lab (Cellar Space)
Creative Artist Domingo Crúz conducts a series of workshops on mask making, toy making, household tradition, and a special workshop on miniature carnival figurines.

Recommended for ages 5+. (An adult must be accompanied by a child.)
Mondays and Wednesdays, 6:30PM-8:30PM.
Saturdays, 10AM to 1PM, Studio-B (Cellar Space)
  Percussionist Larry De La Cruz teaches a series of Afro-Dominican drumming for youth development and personal growth. Recommended for ages 16+
Wednesdays & Fridays, 6:30PM-8:30PM Studio-A (Cellar Space)
Dance Instructor Mangeli Rodríguez teaches a series of dance workshops exploring rhythms of the Dominican Republic, (Merengue and Bachata).
Recommended for ages 5+.
(A child must be accompanied by an adult.)
Monday through Friday, from 3PM to 6PM
In partnership with ADCC, WHCC offers a free program of classical music instruction for children grades 6 to 12
June 20th to 30th,, 2016
DFFNY brings together emerging talent and industry professionals for a five-day celebration of Dominican cinema; to enrich the artistic experience of New York's culturally diverse population
April 1st to June 18th, 2016  
PTP  is a nonprofit arts and social justice organization that unites members of under-represented communities to raise awareness of their shared struggles through the personal and social transformative process of collaborative theatre making.
ISABELLA SENIOR CENTER: Isabella Senior Exercise
Wednesdays & Fridays, 10AM. - 11:45AM. Studio-B

A People's Theater Production
Saturday 18, 12PM 2nd Floor Gallery
Monday 20 th to Thursday 30 th from 12PM -6PM 2 nd Floor Gallery
For More Information, Contact 917.242.0811 or email