April 2018


Participatory Budgeting is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. It's grassroots democracy at its best. It helps make budget decisions clear and accessible and gives real power to people who have never before been involved in the political process. And it results in better budget decisions - because who better knows the needs of our community than the people who live there?

Learn more about PB here:
Real Money, Real Power: Participatory Budgeting

Cast your vote now to decide how your Council Member will spend $1 million on your community!

Helping Students Explore Alternatives to College
Edith Espinal (left) is a former student at QCH's Youth Adult Borough Center (YABC) at the  High School for Arts and Business in Corona. This winter, Edith visited her school counselor when she was struggling to stay motivated in school. She shared the challenges she'd been facing and then went on to outline her vision of starting up her own business -- an affordable, online meal-prep company. Edith was immediately referred to Jessica Yip, QCH's Alternative to College (ATC) Counselor (below right). "Edith had incredible ideas and a clear passion for the culinary field," Jessica remembers of that first meeting. "I asked her about college, and she said, 'School's just not for me at all.' So we set out to design a career path that worked for her."
The ATC Counselor position is new to QCH and was created last year to work (with support from the  Frances L & Edwin L Cummings Memorial Fund ) specifically with graduates of our four alternative highs schools. These schools work with young adults who have dropped out or struggled to get through traditional high schools. Several years ago, we embedded our College Access and Success Program into these schools to help students to envision, plan for, and apply to college. But our staff came to realize that college may not be the best fit for everyone.   Using
MyBestBets, a web-based platform that aligns a student's interests with regional employment needs, Jessica helps young people explore their career goals and begin to visualize a path for how to get there. That path may require college (now or in the future) but sometimes it can be achieved through certificate or specialized training programs.   Jessica has been forming relationships with organizations who train for professions in medical billing, computer coding, cosmetology, automotive repair and EMTs.
Unfortunately for many of Jessica's participants, there are still barriers to getting the support they need. Full time jobs can conflict with training schedules, and the overall stress of daily life can distract them from focusing on next steps. Jessica makes sure her participants know she is there to support them.  In her intake process, she asks questions related to daily life to get a better sense of each participant's needs. When appropriate, she refers them to other QCH programs like our Housing and Homeless Prevention and Immigration Services.

After discovering Edith's entrepreneurial spirit and excitement for the culinary field, Jessica referred her to QCH's Queens Connect program, a culinary training and certification program made possible by the Young Adult Food Sector Initiative (YAFSI). Edith was trained in a professional kitchen, received her food safety license, and graduated this past March with her cohort. She is now working as an intern in a local restaurant and plans to apply to Culinary Tech Center, which she learned about on a Queens Connect field trip. "I didn't want to go to college, but after meeting Jessica and graduating from Queens Connect, now I actually want to go," Edith says. 

"There are different paths to success, and everyone's definition of success is different" Jessica says. "It's not going to be a linear path. It's going to be zig-zaggy, and that's OK."
Celebrate Local Champions with QCH!
We will hold to our Annual Spring Event on May 2 at Forest Hills' historic West Side Tennis Club.  This year we will be presenting the  Local Champion Award  to  St. Luke's Episcopal Church  in Forest Hills Gardens. For more than 15 years, St. Luke's has been organizing annual food and toy drives for the families in our Eviction Prevention program, and last year helped us to start and coordinate an evening food pantry.
We will also be presenting the  Queens Community Builder award to Queenscapes founder,  Alfonzo Steve Vazquez, for his effort to unite neighbors of all backgrounds, embodying what is best about our borough. Queenscapes is a community based organization that utilizes photography and social media as platforms for social change in Queens.
Tickets can be purchased at www.qchnyc.org/spring  and are $100 each.
Contact Sabrina Flores at (718) 592-5757 Ext. 246 or sflores@qchnyc.org for more information.