Queens Leaders Hail $500K Federal Planning Grant for Zone 126 Program to Help Kids at Astoria Houses
Astoria, NY – U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Borough President Helen Marshall, Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, City Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr., and Astoria Houses Tenants’ Association Leader Claudia Coger today joined the directors of Zone 126 Promise Neighborhood and The Elmezzi Foundation to announce that Zone 126 has secured a new, $500,000 Promise Neighborhood planning grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The Elmezzi Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting disadvantaged communities, created Zone 126 to improve educational opportunities for the children of western Queens.
Over the next year, Zone 126 will use funding from this planning grant, along with $350,000 in seed funding from The Elmezzi Foundation and $400,000 in additional private funding, to develop a plan to deliver “cradle to career” educational support for the more than 1,600 children and young people who live in Astoria Houses, as well as kids from the surrounding neighborhood. Zone 126 will then apply for another grant from the Department of Education to implement its plan, which could bring in millions more in federal funding for western Queens. Zone 126 is one of only twenty organizations nationwide to receive a Promise Neighborhood planning grant this year.
“Zone 126’s Promise Neighborhood grant promises to do a world of good for the children of western Queens. This federal grant will get the ball rolling on a ‘cradle to career’ educational support program for young people in Astoria Houses and the surrounding community. The next step is to turn this planning grant into a multi-year, multi-million dollar federal funding stream to implement Zone 126’s plan to help children in our community – and I will be urging the Department of Education to do just that. I thank The Elmezzi Foundation, which has funded so many worthwhile initiatives in western Queens, and Zone 126 for their dedication to our community. I can’t think of a more wonderful New Year’s gift for our kids,” said Rep. Maloney.
New York State Senator Michael Gianaris said, “It is a great day when we can announce an influx of money to improve educational opportunities for western Queens children. The benefits to Astoria Houses children provided by the grant to Zone 126 will help give them the kind of support they deserve. I thank the U.S. Department of Education, Congresswoman Maloney and The Elmezzi Foundation for their hard work to secure this much-needed money and look forward to seeing our children thrive because of it.”
"This grant will go a long way in providing funding for a great education program for the students of Astoria Houses," said Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan. "I want to thank Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney for her leadership on this project and the Elmezzi Foundation for working to secure this money for the students of Western Queens."
Queens Borough President Helen Marshall said: “This grant is a great investment in the future. It will support hundreds of children in western Queens in their quest to pursue educational
opportunities and help them to meet the challenges they face as they place their feet on the path to success. I thank the Elmezzi Foundation, Congresswoman Maloney, and all those who played a role in securing this grant and hope that it will result in additional funds over the years to keep the dreams of these children alive.”
“Congratulations to the Elmezzi Foundation on winning this prestigious and competitive grant. You couldn’t find a more deserving group than our kids at the Astoria Houses. I look forward to working with Zone 126 and our kids as this program progresses,” said Councilman Vallone.
Chris Cutter, Zone 126 Executive Director, said: “this grant is an exciting milestone for all of us; our staff, our partners—the residents, schools, nonprofits, public officials, and funders who invest in education in Astoria. We have been working together on this initiative for the past four years and now have the backing we need to plan a cradle to career continuum of supports for children in our community.”
“Our children are our most precious resource, and the future prosperity of New York City rests on how well we prepare and support them today,” said New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Chairman John B. Rhea. “NYCHA recognizes that only through partnership can we create the neighborhoods our children so richly deserve. We are grateful to the U.S. Department of Education and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney for their support. We look forward to working with The Elmezzi Foundation to create a better future for NYCHA’s youth.”
Many of Zone 126’s partner organizations -who will work with Zone 126 to develop a community education plan- also attended today’s grant announcement, including the East River Development Alliance, which is headed by Bishop Mitchell Taylor; Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement House; NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center; Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens; Queens Community Board 1; NYCHA; City Year New York; AHRC Astoria Blue Feather; Digital Divide Partnership; IS 126Q; PS 171Q; and William C. Bryant High School.
The Promise Neighborhoods program, which was launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to address significant challenges faced by students and families living in high-poverty communities by providing resources to plan and implement a continuum of services from early learning to college and career. Plans include a range of services from improving a neighborhood’s health, safety, and stability to expanding access to learning technology and Internet connectivity, and boosting family engagement in student learning.
The omnibus spending bill for Fiscal Year 2012, which Congress passed in December, includes another $60 million for Promise Neighborhoods.
Over the next year, Zone 126 work groups (which are made up of more than 50 members; a mixture of staff from Zone 126’s partners, as well as residents of the community) will be developing a detailed action plan on what types of services and supports are most needed by children in our community. The four work groups are: Thrive by Five – which will focus on children 0-5 years old; Students Achieve – which will focus on students in kindergarten through 8th grade; Young Adults Succeed – which will focus on high school and college-aged youth; and Supportive Parenting – which will look at the needs of parents and caregivers.
Zone 126 staff will incorporate the recommendations of the work groups, and of the organization’s advisory council, into a final business plan, which will serve as the basis for Zone 126’s application for a federal implementation grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The implementation grant, for which there is a competitive application process, could bring in another $4 to 6 million in federal funds to carry out Zone 126’s plan – and would be matched by private donations.
Zone 126 also intends to set up a process, beginning in June, that allows residents with ideas for events and small programs for children, to apply for mini-grants of up to $2,000 to make their ideas a reality.