Diving Deep in the Zone
Children of A Lesser God?
by Anthony Lopez, Executive Director
When children live and learn in poverty does it matter if it’s low, moderate, high or extreme?

New York City has a larger number of people living in poverty today than it has since 1970. Thirty percent of all children in the city were living in census tracts with concentrated poverty. In Astoria’s peninsula, the poverty rate increased more than 10 percentage points in years 2011-2015 and children were more likely than adults to live in high and extreme-poverty neighborhoods during the same years (Source: NYU Furman Center State of New York City’s Housing & Neighborhoods in 2016 ). Back in 1991, Jonathan Kozol’s Savage Inequalities delivered a searing examination of the extremes of wealth and poverty and calls into question the reality of equal opportunity in our nation’s schools. Higher poverty neighborhoods have schools in which fewer children were performing at grade level in English language arts (ELA) and math on fourth grade standardized tests. Twenty-seven years later, there still is a strong negative correlation between neighborhood poverty levels and school quality. 

Children of black and Latinx New Yorkers make up a higher share of the residents in higher poverty neighborhoods than other New Yorkers. Compared to poor Asian and white New Yorkers, the typical poor black and Latinx New Yorker lives in a neighborhood with a higher poverty rate, a much higher violent crime rate, schools with lower test scores, increased housing code violations, a higher rate of unemployment, and fewer college educated residents. The typical poor white New Yorker lives in a neighborhood that performs better on all of these measures than the typical non-poor New Yorker. ( Source: NYU Furman Center State of New York City’s Housing & Neighborhoods in 2016 ). 

It’s not just the Color lines of socioeconomic status that is the culprit although it plays a part. It is the reluctance of people, especially those with power and privilege who live or will move into Astoria and Long Island City, and perceive those different from themselves through their own culturally clouded vision. While this inability is particularly destructive to low-income communities—and the schools that serve them—It can form the backdrop of a movement for change where re-locators and NYCDOE “Lifers” learn to view and treat “other people’s children” as they do their own. (Source: Other People’s Children, Lisa Delp )

Race has shaped our regions, creating places that offer profoundly unequal opportunities to their residents. In Astoria and Long Island City, the deep economic divide between “haves” and “have-nots” is clearly visible in the schools that serve the children from the Queensbridge, Ravenswood and Astoria Houses. So, in many ways, race remains our deepest divide.

Effective strategies to build healthy, vibrant, sustainable communities must address both race and place, openly and authentically. Race is a central and a necessary consideration for building a healthy movement that demonstrates the affection an entire community has for all of its children.  
News from the Zone
Pipeline Update
NYC Kids RISE for Families
by Dylan Woloszczuk, Community School Coordinator CS 111Q
During the 2017-2018 school year, Zone 126 and CS 111Q partnered with NYC Kids RISE , an organization dedicated to assisting families with financial planning and support for college. Mrs. West, Parent Coordinator at CS 111Q, has played an integral role in this partnership. She has worked closely with NYC Kids RISE throughout the year, welcomed the organization into CS 111Q, and ensured the NYC Kids RISE team had facetime with our Kindergarten students and parents. 

In addition to NYC Kids RISE facilitating onsite instructional workshops, Mrs. West has hosted Parent Workshops herself to boost parent awareness of the program. In this way, NYC Kids RISE has been able to attend multiple school events and interact with parents and students. 
Mrs. West spoke about the partnership between CS 111Q and the NYC Kids RISE team, “We have collaborated well to spread the word to our Kindergarten families...Kids Rise has always communicated positively. We have a great relationship and we communicate very often.” Mrs. West also noted the many tasks she and NYC Kids RISE have been able to achieve together to promote the program. She stated, “Flyers were backpacked, information about the program was emailed, texts [were sent] through Kinvolved …[and] dates were placed on the school calendar and newsletter.” She reported that she and NYC Kids RISE used all these tactics and word-of-mouth on a “consistent basis” to keep families informed and empowered. Mrs. West emphasized that her ultimate goal is for 100% of Kindergarten parents to be enrolled in the NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program. 

Mrs. West explained, “I strongly believe that this program is useful for our families. Any investment in a child's future is beneficial, [and] this program should be taken full advantage of.” Mrs. West’s sentiment is evident in the amount of effort she has invested in NYC Kids RISE, our parents, and our scholars. Her dedicated work is an example of how positive collaboration best supports our families.
A Powerful Partnership
by: Claudia Esteva, Community School Director CS 111Q
May 4th was an exciting day at CS 111Q . Community-Word Project , a collaborative arts residency program, and Neuberger Berman , an investment management firm, came together to celebrate the scholars of CS 111Q who participated in CWP’s residency this Spring! The organizations came together and gifted individually wrapped books to our scholars. Kindergarten scholars received “The Quickest Kid in Clarksville,” by Pat Zietlow Miller and “Matilda” by Roald Dahl.
The essence of the day was to celebrate the fun that comes along with learning about yourself through art, theater, and, of course, literature. Scholars started off class with a group activity led by CWP teaching artists and special guest volunteers from Neuberger Berman. Scholars acted out scenes from their culminating pieces, rehearsed with the volunteers, and learned fun facts about them. Then, volunteers and staff surprised scholars with the beautifully wrapped books! After unveiling their gifts and smiling ear to ear from excitement, scholars got together to recite the ever famous CWP motto, “I have a voice. My voice is powerful. My voice can change the world!” The words rang throughout the classroom and spilled into the hallways. There was much joy to be felt!
Mental Health Awareness Month
at Long Island City High School
by Michelle A. Makabali, Community School Director Long Island City High School
Through the New York City Community Schools initiative, Long Island City High School and Zone 126 have been able to work in collaboration with the Child Center of NY (CCNY) to establish the Wellness Clinic. With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, its fitting to highlight, our successful three-year collaboration efforts. 

The Wellness Clinic is fully integrated into the fabric of the school, and both Ms. Triana, LCSW and Ms. Chua, LCSW who are licensed clinicians along with a Youth Advocate and a Social Work Intern work closely with teachers, guidance counselors and social workers to ensure students are supported. The clinic is a safe-space, conducive of providing students with the opportunity to meet one on one with clinicians, have small group discussions, and provide professional development to help destigmatize the perception around Mental Health and receiving support services. 
In recognizing the importance around providing students support, the Community Schools Team also felt it was critical to provide a space for staff members to support their own holistic well being. The Serenity Space which opened up on Tuesday, May 29, 2018 provides school staff a place where they can go to practice their own mindfulness techniques and get in tuned with themselves. The Serenity Space is designed to be a calm space that allows individuals the opportunity to engage their five senses, comfortable chairs, serene foliage, a waterfall, adjustable lighting, and aromatherapy all make up the welcoming environment of this space. 
Principal Selenikas praised the Serenity Space, saying, “The LICHS Serenity Space is a tribute to the need of all staff for a space in our school that supports introspection, reflection and focus for all adults in our school. I appreciate the support of Zone 126 in collaborating and supporting us to make our LICHS days peaceful and serene.”
by Anju J. Rupchandani M.S.Ed., Managing Director
Family Night 2017
Long Island City High School
Earlier this month, 2000 professionals from across the United States and Canada gathered for the Community Schools Forum in Baltimore, Maryland. The Opening Plenary of any large gathering in the world of education is filled with energy, excitement, and an opportunity to be reinvigorated about the work. Robin Hood Foundation ’s CEO Wes Moore kicked off this year’s plenary, and his statement, “We don’t have a school to prison pipeline, we have a poverty to prison pipeline,” resonated with many of the attendees. Mr. Moore’s statement was the fire that lit the match to remind us that poverty is not a choice by families, it is a circumstance created by systems. 
CS 111Q
Scholar-Led Conference
Whether you’re rich or poor, black or white, young or old, when you’re a parent, you have hopes and dreams for your children. You want them to exceed what you have done in your lifetime. What parents/families do each day is try to clear obstacles while creating a path for their children to succeed. “Your seats were paid for long before you ever got here to today’s event,” said Mr. Moore, and that’s because we're products of someone else’s expectations of us that we have lived up to. That is what families in low-income neighborhoods are doing each day no matter how tough the circumstances are, they are believing in their children, and the power of their potential. However, the difficult thing that still exists is the fact that systems have been created in low-income neighborhoods to perpetuate the cycles of poverty, and impede youth the opportunity to live up to their full potential.
Under resourced schools lacking adequate materials, facilities, food & nutrition access, mental health support services, and a host of other critical resources that support a student, family and a neighborhood are part of a larger systemic issue. 

When we begin to see that people created the systems that are in place today and prevent everyone from succeeding, we start making real change. Then, and only then, can children who are living in poverty CLAIM their seats at the table, and live up to the potential of success that we as professionals see for them, as their families do. 
What We Are Reading
  • How to Resist: Turn Protest to Power by Matthew Bolton
  • The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
Organizational Spotlight
Community Corner
enACT: Show UP!
enACT Award Ceremony- Born This Way Foundation
Thursday May 24, 2018
Left to Right: Anju J. Rupchandani, Michelle Makabali, and Principal Selenikas were honored at enACT 's Show UP! for their commitment to the enACT partnership at LICHS and students' social emotional needs
Zone 126 at LICHS:
On the Road to College
Queens Library at Long Island City
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We would like to thank all of our funders for all their help: Thomas & Jeanne Elmezzi Foundation, New York City Department of Education, Altman Foundation, Pinkerton Foundation, and Phyllis Backer Foundation.
  *Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of the individual