SYEP social justice group on a field trip at the Bryant Park NYPL

July : News Updates

Youth Programming

This month we were excited to launch SYEP 2021 with 320 younger youth (14-15 year olds) participating in virtual project-based learning experiences. Our project based learning is participant directed and this year our SYEP youth have chosen to focus on social justice issues that they as youth leaders feel should be amplified. Such issues include: Environmental Justice, Police Brutality and Intimidation, LGBTQIA issues, Women’s Rights Issues (Domestic Violence, Human Trafficking, Cat-calling, Sexual Abuse), and issues regarding race, with a specific focus on the Black Lives Matter and stopping hate against AAPI movements. SYEP 2021 also engaged 400 older youth (16-21 year olds) who are placed at worksites throughout Brooklyn – including hospitals, camps, daycares, and local businesses. The program will run for 6 weeks and the participants will earn $15/hour for 25 hours of work per week – providing needed income to youth in our community and preparing them for the workforce. Additionally, our Summer Rising youth programs are underway at seven sites, with a total youth enrollment of 1,435. Summer Rising prepares students to return to in-person learning in the fall by addressing their learning gaps and socio-emotional needs as they recover from the pandemic and its aftermath. MORE ON OUR YOUTH PROGRAMMING

Community Services Program

Our incredible CFLSP VITA tax team was honored on July 14th at the VITA /TCE (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance & Tax Counseling for the Elderly) Partner 5th Annual Filing Season Recognition Ceremony. The Zoom event was organized by Stakeholder Partnerships, Education and Communication (SPEC), and included several members of the IRS Senior Leadership Team. Our team filed a total of 3,279 returns, resulting in refunds totaling $5.7 million for our community. We are grateful to our staff for their incredible efforts in our community this tax season. Further, we were thrilled to receive an award from the Department of Community Affairs that will enable us to support families to enroll in the Child Tax Credit program. This initiative will be launching in late summer and we are honored to be asked to play a part in connecting eligible families to much needed financial resources. MORE ON OUR COMMUNITY SERVICES PROGRAM
Cooperative Development Program

As we closed Fiscal Year 2021 on June 30th, we are proud to report that our Cooperative Development Program provided 263+ technical assistance services to 5 worker-owned cooperative businesses, and two nonprofit organizations that support immigrant workers in NYC, such as helping define annual sales goals and expense budgets, helping prepare finance documentation needed to file annual taxes, and developing marketing strategy for cooperatives. We are also proud to report that in the last year, we trained 32 new cooperative business developers, representing 17 community organizations across the USA, and facilitated 25 trainings for worker-owners of cooperative businesses with 405+ participants total. Our team is small but mighty and their impact is truly great! Lastly, we started the incubation of the 5th Brightly Cleaning Cooperative in NYC, with the participation of 19 immigrant women becoming empowered as business owners. We expect that this newest member of the Brightly family will be able to accept its first cleaning contracts early in 2022. MORE ON OUR COOPERATIVE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
 
Family Counseling Program

Our Family Counseling Program continues to provide Family Counseling, Family Support & Preventive Services, Immigrant Trauma-Informed Counseling, Individual & Couples Therapy, Know Your Rights Workshops, and the Sanctuary Families Program for supporting families at risk of immigration detention or deportation. This July, we were able to distribute $100,000 of cash relief to 100 of the most vulnerable local families in need. The emergency relief funds were provided by the Mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity, RFCUNY, and Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA). Thus far in 2021 we’ve also provided a total of $47,350 of rent relief funds to 30 families. This is in addition to the $75,000 in rent relief we distributed to 53 families in 2020. These funds are a crucial step in maintaining housing stability for families impacted by pandemic-related job or income losses. MORE ON OUR FAMILY COUNSELING PROGRAM
 
Test & Trace
 
Our staff have distributed face masks (~2,600) and information flyers (~700) daily on COVID-19 health and safety best practices to Food Pantry and other CFLSP clients. Since May, Chinese-speaking staff have also distributed face masks (including children’s masks) and flyers along 8th Avenue in Sunset Park. CFLSP Directors and Parent Coordinators at local schools receive weekly updates on COVID-19 testing sites, vaccine information, and other resources to share with staff, clients, and parents. MORE ON OUR TEST & TRACE PROGRAM
kids playing in splash pad

July : Covid-19 Cash Relief Distribution

This month, Center for Family Life in Sunset Park took another important step to directly combat the financial hardships experienced by so many community families throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Through cash relief distribution, we were able to distribute $100,000 to 100 of the most vulnerable local families in need. This is in addition to the more than $1,000,000 in cash relief distributed to families in 2020. The emergency relief funds, provided by the Mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity, RFCUNY, and Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), were made possible with the help of our friends at TD Bank, who acted quickly to produce 200 cash cards that CFLSP distributed to qualifying families.
 
Due to the strain of pandemic-related illness and the loss of jobs and income, many Sunset Park community members have struggled to maintain their supply of food, clothing, and school materials.

“This community has been hit hard by the pandemic. They lost family members and jobs, continue to experience economic hardship, have limited access to benefits, and fear accessing services due to their immigration status,” explained Jean Bae from MOIA. “The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs is proud to partner with CFLSP on the NYC COVID-19 Immigrant Emergency Relief Program to provide emergency monetary relief to immigrant workers and their families who were…excluded from most federal and state relief programs. We thank CFLSP for their work with the Relief Program and for all the work they do for immigrant communities in NYC.”
Given the urgent need in the community, CFLSP co-directors Julia Jean-Francois and Julie Brockway turned to a local community institution, TD Bank, to get resources into the hands of neighborhood families. CFLSP also relied on TD Bank for similar help last year during the cash distribution to 800 neighborhood families. We are thrilled to have the consistent support of our local TD Bank in distributing funds to the most disadvantaged members of our community. Vice President and Store Manager of TD Bank in Sunset Park, William Xie, noted,
 
“TD has been part of the fabric of the Brooklyn community for years. We are honored to again work with the Center for Family Life in Sunset Park to help distribute critical emergency relief funding to local families battling economic hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
 
CFLSP would like to thank the folks at TD Bank for going great distances to help us create this wonderful opportunity in Sunset Park, and acknowledge the vision, critical funding, and partnership from Mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity, RFCUNY, and MOIA. We are deeply grateful for the opportunity to come together to support local families in our community!
Photo by: Pankaj Khadka/Leroy Street Studio

June : Our neighborhood library in Sunset Park has been honored by the 2021 National American Institute of Architects (AIA) and American Library Association (ALA) as one of the winners of the Library Building Design Award

We are thrilled to announce that our interim neighborhood library in Sunset Park has been honored by the 2021 National American Institute of Architects (AIA) and American Library Association (ALA) as one of the winners of the Library Building Design Award – only one of five libraries selected in the United States! The temporary Sunset Park Library, nestled in the former Sunset Park courthouse on Fourth Avenue, was designed by Leroy Street Studio and decorated with exquisite work by Center for Family Life high school students!

High school students in CFL’s Life Lines Visual Arts Troupe partnered with the Leroy Street Studio in a collaborative process of art, design, and installation to devise a method of providing shade for library-goers on brighter days. The team constructed a unique cascade of paper mobiles that hang across the large, vaulted windows. The shapes, made bold when backlit by the sun, speak to themes of togetherness, vitality, and natural beauty.

The National American Institute of Architects (AIA), an organization to support quality architecture founded in 1857, focuses on cultivating and encouraging the creation of spaces that center community wellness and vibrancy. According to a statement from their organization, the award acknowledges those libraries that embody “design achievement, including a sense of place, purpose, ecology, environmental sustainability and of history.” 
 
 Despite its status as an interim library, the space is a glowing achievement in Sunset Park. Shawn Watts, a partner at Leroy Street Studio, expressed that the studio is “honored to have played a part in creating this vibrant community hub and thrilled to see how the work of the students from the Center for Family Life elevated the space.”
 
 
The interim Sunset Park Library fulfills a variety of needs with versatile arrangements of space and equipment that serve our diverse community. Leroy Street Studio ensured that the voices of the Sunset Park community, BPL staff, and elected officials were heard in imagining the space. A spokesperson for Brooklyn Public Library noted that the library design, with the window installation “comprised of screens and sculptural mobiles, made in collaboration with students from the Center for Family Life…truly reflects the community it serves, making this award even more special.”
 
Julie & Julia

May : Center for Family Life in Sunset Park (CFLSP) has established itself as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization!

We couldn’t be happier to share this amazing moment with all of the friends and neighbors who have joined us over many years, and who are now the core support of the independent CFLSP! 

While we now have a new corporate identity, we will continue to operate at all of the same sites located throughout the community under the leadership of Julie Stein Brockway and Julia Jean-Francois, Co-Executive Directors. For the past 20 years, Julie and Julia have co-led the Center—a comprehensive, family support organization that provides school-based programming, employment services, counseling, case management, and small business development opportunities.
 
 

In 2020, we provided 18,090 individuals and 12,353 families with critical services, and continued to serve as an anchor in the community through the pandemic. Many of our programs operated remotely, and we maintained critical in-person services, including childcare for the children of front-line workers at a NYC Department of Education Regional Enrichment Center, five-day-a-week food and cash relief distribution through our food pantry, and youth development activities at nine neighborhood public schools, all provided while observing proper safety and social distancing precautions.

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March: 12th Annual Career, College, and Community Building Week

During the week of March 1st, Center for Family Life hosted the 12th annual
Career, College & Community-Building Week for the Sunset Park High
School community. CCC Week, formerly known as CCC Day, provided SPHS
students of all grades with fun, informative, and meaningful experiences to
support their college readiness over the course of three days. Virtual
programming connected students with SPHS alumni in college, enhanced their
ongoing career exploration by welcoming dialogue with a variety of guests from
different fields, and provided an opportunity for community-building with peers
and adults.

By the end of the week, students had learned from guest speakers about
prospective colleges, pondered possibilities for their careers, and engaged in
joyful community-building with one another. We’re grateful for everyone who
contributed to our CCC Week and made each day special!

“I enjoyed being able to share my college and career trajectory. I wouldn’t have imagined that life
would bring me to a completely different career path than what I wanted when I was a SPHS student. Hopefully students were able to relate to my experiences and not feel anxious about college and choosing
their career path in the near future.”