June: Cross-site Soccer League

With generous funding provided by the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), Center for Family Life launched our first-ever cross-site soccer league in February of 2024. Our free program operated across 6 Center for Family Life sites in Sunset Park at PS 1, PS 503/506, PS 94, PS 169, PS 516, and PS 971. Our Neighborhood Youth Soccer Program served elementary and middle school youth, who otherwise may not have had the financial resources to join a soccer team or the experience to be selected for a competitive league.

At the start of the program, CFL staff organized 14 co-ed teams of youth, from ages 10 to 13. All participants were registered on a first-come-first-serve basis and no prior experience was required.

Staff also recruited high school students to assist in implementing sports practices, games, and other activities for participants. This provided high schoolers with the opportunity to build leadership skills and to earn an incentive of up to $400 while serving as mentors to younger youth in the program.


During the first two months of the league, participants attended weekly practices where they received skill-based instruction from CFL coaches, who were trained by Street Soccer USA, a national nonprofit. In addition to offering coaching and safety trainings, Street Soccer USA provided neutral referees for cross-site games.

Official games kicked off in April, as teams faced off against other sites. The league centered on fellowship and community-building, allowing youth to engage in friendly competition with no scores being recorded. In addition, all participants played for equal time, regardless of athletic ability or skill level. This created a safe and inclusive environment, where all players felt valued and appreciated.

Each game was highly attended by family members who came to support youth and to cheer on their teams. Throughout the season, parents shared valuable feedback that led to ongoing program improvements. They expressed how thankful they were to have this opportunity for their children. Our partnership with parents and their investment in the program’s success were a major highlight of this new initiative.


Teams enjoyed playing on professional soccer turf at Soccer Roof in Sunset Park!

After a series of cross-site games and a final grand tournament, the program came to a close with our Award Ceremony on June 7th. At the ceremony, players and their families came together and enjoyed a shared meal to celebrate the accomplishments of participants over the past several months. Players were thrilled to connect one last time with coaches and fellow teammates as they proudly collected their certificates and awards.


We are incredibly grateful to DYCD’s Neighborhood Youth Team Sports Program for funding that provided 120 young people with the opportunity to join a soccer team and gain valuable skills while strengthening our community.

We are eager to build on the enthusiastic engagement of youth and families and on the success of this year’s inaugural soccer league. We appreciate any donations to support our capacity to continue cross-site sports programming in the future.


May: Life Lines Community Arts Project & SPHS Present “WITH LOVE”

Life Lines Community Arts Project is a free, nationally-recognized year-round arts and leadership program for youth, ages 10-21, that brings together the arts, education and social work to engage young people in group experiences that promote individual growth, encourage mutual aid, develop leadership, and build community.

Each year, Life Lines presents an improvisational play that brings to life the struggles and vitality of young people and families in our diverse neighborhood. Although there is a skeletal outline of scenes, there is no written script for the final show. Instead, characters play out their situations in improvised dialogue that changes from performance to performance.

"WITH LOVE" - The E-Sports Tournament

“WITH LOVE” – The E-Sports Tournament

Youth are directly involved in each stage of the spring show design process. Through character development, creative writing, community research, dance, music, and visual art, members share with staff their ideas, feelings, and experiences — these are integrated into original pieces for the production. Following a fall semester of dance, vocal and improvisational acting skill development, our auditioned Repertory Company meets twice a week and participates in a February rehearsal retreat to select the themes and develop core content for the show. The January – April “creation” phase culminates with a Camping Rehearsal retreat for the full cast of participants at the Fresh Air Fund in Upstate New York. Over three days we bring together the dances, songs, ensemble pieces, scenery and props created by all Life Lines groups and troupes. Then, it is back to Brooklyn to rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!

Riley and her mother reconnect with empathy and understanding


The Talk with Troy podcast giving everyone a laugh!

This year’s show, WITH LOVE, illustrates love in its many forms! Our show begins with a classroom of high school students with complicated feelings towards love; they start the show wondering whether the vulnerability and trust that love requires is worth the risk in a world that makes us feel like it’s “every person for themselves.” These characters include two mother-daughter duos navigating senior year in their own loving way, a teacher offering support to a student whose family members have newly arrived to this country, mischievous pranksters determined to bring chaos to the school day, an up-and-coming podcaster sharing his philosophy on life, and video gamer friends finding connection in the virtual world.

The scenes, songs, dances, and featured performances from SPHS student groups inspire us to choose love and notice that we’re surrounded by it all the time.


We are thrilled that our performances reached 1,700 elementary, middle, and high school students and over 500 family and community members. We are incredibly grateful to our participants, parents, family members, school and community partners for supporting and joining us for these moving performances as our young people remind us that…


“When hate tries to take the command,
Together we have the strength to withstand.
When it comes to the world that we’ll build,
We’ll build love!”

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April: Lt. Governor Antonio Delgado Visits Center for Family Life at PS 1

On Tuesday April 9th, we were honored to have New York State Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado visit CFLSP’s programs at PS 1 where he was able to see first-hand some of our innovative youth development programming. The Lt. Governor learned about the work of CFLSP through Amiya Castro, former PS 1 participant who is now an Excelsior Service Fellow in the Lt. Governor’s office. Amiya fondly remembered her years participating in CFLSP programs at PS 1, stating she has not found any place quite like it since. 

Amiya currently supports the work of the newly-created NYS Office of Service and Civic Engagement, led by the Lt. Governor, to inspire stronger communities through public service opportunities. This office plans to support service organizations and initiatives like ours, with the goal of building an active community and network for service and civic engagement across the state.

During his visit to the PS 1 afterschool program, Lt. Governor Delgado observed members as they participated in visual arts and teambuilding activities that build social, emotional, and problem-solving skills. The Lt. Governor also visited our teen camp group, engaging participants in a productive discussion where they shared suggestions for positive change in New York State. Group members identified reducing pollution and making subways safer as ways that the state government could improve communities. In discussion of growth and the needs of our organization, they advocated for more funding for service projects to help young people grow and learn while making a positive contribution to their neighborhoods.


Lt. Governor Delgado also participated in a roundtable discussion with representatives from our unique “ladder of leadership,” which includes teen camp participants, Counselors-in-Training, AmeriCorps members, and Program Coordinator Jirazel Munoz-Jimenez. The Lt. Governor appreciated learning how our ladder of leadership fosters long-term relationships that enrich our program environments while serving as a pathway for success for participants as they age-up through our programs.

In CFLSP’s ladder of leadership model, participants build leadership skills in elementary school group experiences, move up into middle school service-learning activities and then, in high school, become Counselors-in-Training (CITs) who serve as role models for younger children. CITs become our hiring pool of youth workers and group leaders who staff our elementary and middle school programs during their college years. Group leaders have the opportunity to advance to AmeriCorps service positions where they earn a living allowance and an educational award to support their ongoing education. As a result of our ladder of leadership and investment in community building, we are very fortunate to have many candidates for our robust 74-member AmeriCorps program.

In the roundtable discussion with Lt. Governor Delgado, Kristie Mancell, Division Director for School-Based Programs, advocated for paid service opportunities for high school youth, like our CITs, who are volunteering their time to make a valuable contribution to their community. Providing stipends for youth would allow more young people to participate in service projects.


In reflecting on their roles in the CFLSP program, participants and staff expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to continue to grow alongside other community members while serving as leaders. Lt. Governor Delgado underscored the circular nature of public service, emphasizing that there is a reciprocal relationship between giving and receiving. A CIT echoed this, saying “I get back from young people just as much as I give.”

We are truly grateful to Lt. Governor Delgado, Amiya Castro, and the whole team for coming to visit PS 1. We are inspired by the extraordinary dedication of our volunteers and staff and were proud to share our longstanding service model of youth leadership and community building!


March: Advocacy Day in Albany


On March 14th, a group of Center for Family Life staff and program participants in our Community Study Circles ventured to Albany to present their advocacy priorities to elected officials!

Through funding provided by the Thriving Families, Safer Children Youth, Family, and Community initiative, we offered a series of Chinese and Spanish Community Study Circle (CSC) workshops, which were co-created and led by program staff with lived experience. These eight-week workshops used a popular education methodology to introduce community participants to community-specific and citywide data on education, housing, economic development, environmental issues, public sanitation, food access and child welfare participation. Group members explored the “story” that data tells about community experiences, contextualizing this data “story” in their own immediate and personal life experiences. Workshops culminated in final presentations to policy makers and elected officials, where participants shared their personal experiences and ideas for community strengthening!

CSC Chinese Group 1 (2)

A significant highlight of our Community Study Circle program was our advocacy trip this March. CFL staff, including CSC group leaders, and Spanish and Chinese program participants travelled to Albany where they engaged directly with state officials to discuss policy recommendations and to elevate community priorities. Our team was incredibly grateful to meet with the offices of Senators Iwen Chu, John C. Liu, and Roxanne Persaud. Together, our team presented the collective concerns of the Chinese and Spanish communities in Sunset Park.


After their day of advocacy, we asked participants to share their reflections. Here is what they chose to share:

“Having participated in study circles at CFL gave me the opportunity to develop my leadership skills and proudly represent our Latino community in Albany. It was an experience that will be unforgettable for me. Our voice was heard, we carried a message and we were heard. Now it is up to the senators to work for our needs so that our community’s goals can be met!”

“For me, it was a wonderful trip and a great learning experience. It was my first time going to Albany, I am satisfied with my small contribution to our community. It is a phenomenal experience because of La Union Hace la Fuerza (strength in unity). God willing, the official electors can commit themselves to work for us and provide us with support for each topic and solution that we have presented.”

“It was great working with the Spanish speaking group, which allowed two marginalized groups to unite for such special cause. Thank you for inviting me!” 


This trip truly emphasizes the power of diverse communities coming together to expand their reach and impact. We are so proud of our CFL staff and program participants for voicing their concerns and advocating for changes in our community and throughout NYC!


Save the Date: The Extra Mile 2024

We are delighted to announce that we will be holding our annual staff recognition Extra Mile event in-person on Wednesday June 5th, from 6-8pm at L’Wren in Sunset Park, Brooklyn!


Please join us here in Sunset Park and meet some of our amazing ESOL staff and students as we celebrate the strength of our life long learners!


Since the fall of 2022, very high numbers of newly arrived individuals and families have come to our immigrant community in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The majority share stories of difficult passages here to the US and most continue to experience challenges as they establish their new lives in Sunset Park. New arrivals come to Center for Family Life looking for a variety of supports to build new lives for themselves and their families, and most have a pressing need to learn English so that they can find work and make the most of their new lives in NYC. Our ESOL staff team has gone above and beyond to support new arrivals and to encourage them as they move forward in their journey to learn English.


Come celebrate our incredible ESOL staff and hear directly from staff and students in our program about what the program means to them!


You can purchase tickets for the event by clicking here!