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October 2011 Newsletter

You know that good feeling you get when you help make things better? It happens every day at The Trust. This newsletter looks at the results of grants that were made possible by generous New Yorkers who wanted to make a difference—and set up endowed funds with us. To find out how you can leave your own legacy, contact our general counsel, Jane Wilton at (212) 686–2563 or janewilton@nyct-cfi.org.

table of contents 2 Get Out the Moving Vans 3 Students Arrested for Horse Play?

4 Love Delivered to Cancer Patients

5 Center Prevents Foreclosures

6 Study Shows Danger of

Chemicals to Children’s Development

8 It Takes a Village to Save a Farm

10 Wallace Legacy Helps Centers Serve Their Communities Better

Gay Marriage: A Victory for Us All

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edding bells are ringing and caterers are working overtime thanks to the work of Empire State Pride Agenda, advocates, and other groups that helped make it legal for gays and lesbians to marry in New York State. Trust grants totaling $135,000 helped the group advocate the issue, bringing to light the injustice of denying spousal health insurance; survivor Social Security and pension payments; visiting rights in hospitals; and legal residency for immigrants in committed same-sex couples. Our heartfelt congratulations go to all the couples who can now officially tie the knot—or not. Newlyweds Carol Anastasio and Mimi Brown with Empire State Pride Agenda’s executive director, Ross D. Levi, outside City Hall on July 24th—the first day same-sex couples could legally marry in New York State. Photo by Timothy Farrell


Get Out the Moving Vans School of Social Work moves on up the East Side When students and faculty of the Lois V. and Samuel J. Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College return to school this fall, they won’t be complaining about tight quarters and long elevator waits. They’ll be heading to a brand new building on East 119th. With $48 million in proceeds from the sale of the school’s former home on 79th Street by The Trust’s Silberman Fund, we made a $30 million grant to CUNY to help pay for construction, and put the remaining $18 million in an endowed fund to benefit the field of social work. This complex and artfully managed real-estate transaction took four years to complete, but was well worth the time and effort. Moving uptown puts the school closer to neighborhoods that need social services. “It’s a chance to live our mission,” Jacqueline Mondros, dean of the school, said in a statement. “We are honored that the Silbermans chose The Trust to carry out their legacy,” says Lorie Slutsky, president of The Trust. “This new building rewards students and faculty who have chosen to devote themselves to public service, thanks to donors who share that devotion.” The new Silberman School of Social Work on 119th Street.

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SI Museum breaks ground on new home with great neighbors In March 2011, the Staten Island Museum began a long-awaited renovation of its new home in the heart of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center campus. Three buildings, including two landmarked 1879 Greek-revival structures, will house the Museum’s archives and its natural science, fine art, and library collections—a big improvement from its cramped 3,000 sq. ft. space near the Staten Island Ferry terminal. The Museum will join a children’s museum, botanical garden, and music hall in this burgeoning cultural destination. Its former home will house an exhibit on New York ferries and an auditorium. “As a National Historic Landmark District that houses a number of Trust grantees, we knew that Snug Harbor was a great fit for the museum,” says Kerry McCarthy, program officer for arts and culture at The Trust. “Since 2001, we’ve made grants totaling $110,000 to help raise money for the renovation, pay architect’s fees, and organize the art collection in preparation for the move. We’re happy the collection moved into a worthy space, equipped with an impressive conservation studio, and are even more excited to know that more families and school groups will be able to visit the galleries.” One of two Greek-revival buildings in Snug Harbor that will house the relocated Staten Island Museum. Photo by Bill Higgins


“Right now there are more police in our schools than guidance counselors, which sends the wrong message to kids.” —Jennifer Carnig, director of communications at the New York Civil Liberties Union

Students Arrested for Horse Play? Advocates get City Council to shine light on harsh discipline

Julian was new at his high school and had never had a discipline problem. In gym, he asked a classmate if she was in a gang. Offended, she and her friends got physical with him. Defending himself, Julian fell and cut his eye on the bleachers. The school tried to suspend him for 90 days— half the school year—as part of their “zero tolerance” policy. “What used to get you a trip to the principal’s office now gets you a trip to the local precinct in handcuffs,” says Jennifer Carnig, director of communications at the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), which got

a $30,000 grant in 2010 for advocacy to reduce school arrests. “We are working to restore the power of educators to discipline children rather than always involve NYPD officers. Right now there are more police in our schools than guidance counselors, which sends the wrong message to kids.” From 1999 to 2009, long-term suspensions doubled in City schools according to the NYCLU’s report, Education Interrupted: the Growing Use of Suspensions in New York City’s Public Schools, which also finds that black students serve more and longer suspensions than white students and that children with disabilities are suspended at four times the rate of non-disabled kids. What’s more, “suspensions don’t work,” says Liz Sullivan of the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI), which got $145,000 in 2009 and 2010 to reduce punitive discipline in schools. “They don’t get at the root of the problem, and young people who are suspended repeatedly and introduced to the criminal justice system at an early age are more likely than their peers to drop out of school and end up incarcerated.” After three years of advocacy by the Student Safety Coalition, 18 organizations including NYCLU and NESRI that worked together to end the school-to-prison pipeline, the Student Safety Act was passed by the City Council and signed into law in early 2011.

(Above) In December 2010, young people joined the Student Safety Coalition at a press conference to support the Student Safety Act. Photo courtesy of NYCLU. (Above right) After passage by the City Council, Mayor Bloomberg signs the Student Safety Act into law in January 2011. Photo courtesy of NYCLU

The Act requires the Department of Education to report on the numbers and types of suspensions citywide, and requires the NYPD’s school safety officers to report what they are doing to whom in schools. Information on the race, age, special education status, and English-language

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proficiency of suspended students is being collected. “We are very pleased that this act is the most comprehensive local reporting law on suspension and arrests in the nation,” says Carnig. “While the bill was passed just eight months ago, it is already having an impact because schools and police know any action they take will be public knowledge.” In addition to The Trust’s support, our Donors’ Education Collaborative, a funders’ group that supports policy reform to make City schools more responsive to the needs of all children, made a $150,000 grant in 2010 to NESRI to continue working with the Student Safety Coalition, now called the Dignity in Schools Campaign-New York. Trust grantees Advocates for Children of New York, the Correctional Association, NYCLU, and the Urban Youth Collaborative are working on this campaign and other advocacy on school discipline. “We are proud of the work of all of these groups over the past two years,” says Shawn Morehead, Trust program officer for education. “They have helped create school environments in which students and staff feel safe and respected, and have built support for appropriate disciplinary measures that will ultimately improve students’ performance.”

Love Delivered

Cancer patients get nutritious meals God’s Love We Deliver was started to deliver healthy meals to people with AIDS who were too weak to shop and cook for themselves. As word of its work spread, the group began receiving requests from people with other illnesses.

Janet’s Story

Undergoing cancer treatment can make cooking and eating too much to handle. While spending time with her granddaughter, this client of God’s Love We Deliver receives nutritious meals at home.

That’s where Orlando Greene posthumously stepped in. An Army captain, ball player, boater, and financier, Greene died of cancer when he was just 57. A month before his death in 1961, he left us a bequest to help needy people who have the disease. In 2001, his generosity supported a grant to God’s Love to offer their services to cancer patients, especially those undergoing radiation and chemotherapy. Since then, The Trust has given the group $610,000 for the program, which has served more than one million customized meals to 4,500 cancer patients and their families. The group also created a tracking system to capture changes in a client’s health, food allergies and preferences, medications, and referrals made to additional resources. “These meals are important for recovery,” says Irfan Hasan, a Trust program officer. “Research shows that patients with nutritious diets strengthen their immune systems to fight cancer and respond better to treatment.”

Janet, a Queens resident, began her chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer

and didn’t feel like eating much. She was referred to a God’s Love registered dietitian who designed a meal program tailored just for her. “In the beginning, my appetite was not good, but I need to eat in order to keep my energy up. I’m so grateful that the food at God’s Love is so beautiful and delicious—because of these meals, my appetite has returned and I’m enjoying eating again. I’m stronger and able to walk more and I feel so much better. I could never have managed on my own and God’s Love has made all the difference.”

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“If we want the mortgage crisis to go away, we need to tackle the systemic problems that have created and now threaten to perpetuate the crisis.” — Pat Swann, senior program officer for community development at The Trust

Center Prevents Foreclosures When banks threaten to take homes away from New Yorkers who are behind on their mortgage payments, the Center for New York City Neighborhoods steps in. “If you call 311 with mortgage or foreclosure troubles, you

The Center for NYC Neighborhoods is preventing foreclosures, similar to this one in Jamaica, Queens, by connecting people with agencies that can help them keep their homes.

will get transferred to our call center,” says Gail Flowers, technology director at the Center. When the City and private funders formed the Center in 2008, The Trust’s $75,000 grant was used to develop its

website and database. Since then, the Center’s digital platform has been used to educate 20,000 troubled homeowners and referred more than 12,000 New Yorkers to housing counselors or legal services. Dolores Galloway was one of these homeowners. “I was approved for a loan modification in July when I first appeared in court, but I never received the loan modification packet. I tried calling the lender several times but got nowhere, and I ended up going back to court in August. Thank heavens for Legal Services of Staten Island, who helped me with the court proceedings because I can’t afford a private attorney.” Not only did the Center refer Ms. Galloway to Legal Services, but they also tracked and logged the hurdles she faced. This and other data from thousands of New Yorkers is helping the Center with the next stage of their work: building a strong case for reforming the lending industry and foreclosure process in New York. While the mortgage crisis may no longer be front page fodder, the Center’s phone is still ringing, with approximately 600 calls for help each month. “We are at the same level of urgency because there are still a large number of people going into default but not being foreclosed upon,” continues Ms. Flowers. “Our database allows us to immediately find appropriate providers near the caller, log and track the resolution of their problem, and automatically follow up with all parties involved.” “If we want the mortgage crisis to go away, we need to tackle the systemic problems that have created and now threaten to perpetuate the crisis,” says Pat Swann, senior program officer for community development at The Trust. A new $40,000 grant is paying a full-time legislative and policy analyst at the Center.

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Study Shows Danger of Chemicals Mothers-to-be know they should avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and certain medications and food, but City moms have to look out for a whole lot more. A groundbreaking study following kids from womb through grade school has shown that exposure to toxins in utero and during childhood can result in lower IQs, and put them at higher risk for cancer, attention deficit disorder, allergies, obesity, and asthma. While no one thought pesticides, exhaust

fumes, or second-hand smoke were good for kids, this was the first study to show the direct link to health problems; the critical first step to getting stronger laws limiting children and pregnant women’s exposure to toxic chemicals. The research findings also fueled successful grassroots advocacy on the placement and operations of bus depots and other dirty and dangerous businesses that proliferate north of 96th Street in Manhattan.

toxins

Unhealthy Kids Second-Hand Smoke: While all mothers in the study were non-smokers, tests of placental blood detected chemicals from cigarettes. Air Pollution from Burning Fuels: All pregnant women and unborn children were exposed to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), particulate byproducts of diesel exhaust and burning heating oil and coal.

Infant/Toddler (ages 0-2) Prenatal exposure led to lower birth weight. 40% of babies in the study were born with DNA damage associated with an increased risk for cancer.

Pesticides: Women who used store-bought or exterminator sprays at home were exposed to dangerous levels of pesticides. Plastics and Fire Retardants: Harmful endocrine disruptors Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), Bisphenol A (BPA), and phthalates were found in most blood samples, most likely from exposure to common plastics, toys, textiles, and kitchenware.

Findings Used to Back Powerful Legislation These findings are immensely disturbing and impossible to ignore. They have been used to support, pass, and enforce laws that protect Cleaner Air: The study influenced federal, state, and local clean air laws. The findings on the harmful impact of diesel soot helped pass the City’s Local Law 77, which mandates that all large vehicles, including the MTA bus fleet, convert from dirty to ultra-low sulfur diesel. Those vehicles now emit 95% less tail-pipe pollution.

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Reducing Asthma Triggers: In 2007, the City Council passed the NYC Safe Housing Act, which makes remediation requirements more stringent for asthma triggers, including mold conditions and vermin infestation. This law has helped tenants and advocates improve conditions in rental housing. Fewer Pesticides in Public Housing: In 2009, the City Council passed Local Law 37,

which mandates integrated pest control in all New York City Housing Authority buildings. Instead of just spraying chemicals, a much bigger emphasis is placed on pest prevention through cleaning and repairs of leaks and holes. When pests need to be killed, sticky traps, bait stations, and gels are used first, before harmful sprays. According to Mayor Bloomberg, “The Center’s research about the exposure of pregnant


to Children’s Development The Trust prides itself on taking on complex challenges that take time to solve. With ten years of grants totaling $1.1 million, The Trust has supported the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health to conduct the Mothers and Newborns Study and additional research that has produced 175 academic papers since the study began in 1998. “This study has proven what public health advocates had long suspected,” says Len McNally, program director for health and people with special needs at The

Trust. “The sample of findings below are the powerful proof that health advocates and policymakers are using to improve laws that protect public health.” Children in this study are monitored from before birth through childhood. Among other tests, mothers-to-be were given air monitoring devices that measured their exposure to air pollutants. The following chemicals were found in samples taken from placental blood.

Children (ages 2-7) Prenatal exposure led to significantly reduced scores on tests for cognitive development of 2-year olds. Prenatal and postnatal exposure resulted in the increased likelihood of respiratory and asthma-like symptoms at five to six years of age. Lower IQ scores at ages 5 and 7—reductions similar to scores seen with some exposure to lead. Children with high exposure to pyrene (a PAH) both prenatally and at 5 to 6 years of age had more wheezing, trips to the emergency room, and asthma symptoms. Prenatal exposure linked to significantly reduced scores on tests for cognitive development of 3-year-olds. Children with higher concentrations of these endocrine disruptors in their umbilical cord blood at birth scored lower on tests of mental and psychomotor development at ages 1-4 and at age 6.

environmental and public health, some of which are detailed below: women and newborns to pesticides motivated Local Law 37 and put New York at the forefront of safer pest control methods in the United States.” No Smoking: In 2003, the City extended its indoor anti-smoking ban to include bars and restaurants, making it one of the strongest anti-smoking laws in the nation at the time. In 2011, it passed a ban in parks, on beaches, and other outdoor areas.

Strengthening the Nation’s Chemical Laws: While not law yet, the Safe Chemical Act would go farther than any other bill to protect Americans from toxic chemicals. Championed by Senators Lautenberg, Gillibrand, and Schumer, the Act would require companies to prove the safety of many types of chemicals before putting them in consumer products. Dr. Frederica Perera, director of the Columbia

Center for Children’s Environmental Health, has testified in Congress and to other policymakers, and worked with dozens of news outlets around the world to build public awareness of the Center’s groundbreaking work, helping make chemical reform a national priority.

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It Takes a Village to Save a Farm On a beautiful August morning, little Gracie enjoys a juicy oversized peach. You can rest assured it’s healthy, Mommy, it’s organic! Gracie’s mom bought the fruit at Crossroads Farm at Grossmann’s, Nassau County’s newly reopened organic community farm in Malverne. The Grossmann family had farmed the land since 1895, but a decade ago it became clear that the operation was no longer viable. There was some fear that the 5-acre plot would be sold to developers, with McMansions sprouting where beets had once grown. Thankfully, the Nassau Land Trust stepped in. With the family’s support, the Land Trust successfully nominated Grossmann’s for purchase by Nassau County. In 2010, the same year the land was bought, the Long Island Community Foundation made a grant of $20,000 to the Land Trust to help develop the farm’s community programs. “This is the last remaining farm in southwestern Nassau County,” says David Okorn, executive of the Community Foundation. “It’s an investment that has produced a successful model of preserving land for sustainable agriculture programs on Long Island.” While the name of the farm has changed, older neighbors will continue to think of it as Grossmann’s, with fond memories of buying fresh corn, strawberries, and Halloween pumpkins. “I’m just so happy it’s back and running. My kids love coming here,” says Angela Giuttari of Lynbrook, a frequent visitor. “Not just for the fresh vegetables, but for the friendly, inviting atmosphere.”

On the Farm The work began on August 1, 2010 to convert the land into a USDA organic certified farm, with staff and

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Gracie Smith eats some local produce on her first trip to Crossroads Farm at Grossmann’s. Photo by Marie Smith

volunteers restoring the soil and planting, using organic compost. The health of the plants depends on the health of the soil, water, and animals on the farm, and their diversity attracts both wild and resident pollinators. (The farm has two honeybee hives under a shade tree.) The demand for fresh, local, seasonal goods is greater than what the property can produce. To meet it, farmers from Old Westbury to Orient Point have been invited to sell their vegetables and artisanal goods at the farm.

Nature’s Schoolhouse “Farms are an arena for learning,” says Bill Walsh, a seasoned farmer working at Crossroads. “There’s something new to learn every day.” The Land Trust is starting farming programs for children and adults: one


Sweet corn is in season on Long Island from July through September. Photo by Marie Smith

Farmer Bill Walsh manages the day-to-day operations of the farm and retail store while Lisa Mitten, consultant with the Nassau Land Trust, writes grants and helps manage the office, volunteers, and staff. Photo by Marie Smith

elementary-school class has already planted corn, and the newly restored greenhouse will be a teaching space especially useful in winter months.

Volunteers are matched with jobs that suit their skills; others donate farming supplies and money, while those working on larger projects may exchange their labor for fresh produce.

Volunteers Aplenty

“Crossroads Farm at Grossmann’s is an invaluable part of the fabric of Long Island’s cultural history,” said Lloyd Zuckerberg, founder and chairman of Nassau Land Trust. “And with locally grown food on the top of people’s minds, we have an opportunity to give Long Islanders access to this local oasis right in Nassau County.”

“Without our volunteers, we would not be where we are now,” said Lisa Mitten, a Land Trust staff member working at Crossroads. “We get many locals coming in and asking how they can help. It really does take a village!” Ms. Mitten has been working on creating a more formal volunteer management system to deal with the flood of residents who want to get their hands dirty. “We have close to 125 volunteer applications filled out and about 30 regularly devoted volunteers,” Lisa continues.

“Just about every day, a customer will tell us how thrilled they are that the farm has been saved and is open for business again,” says Bill Walsh. “In their opinion, it was the best purchase the county ever made.”

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Wallace Legacy Helps Centers Serve Their Communities Better During World War I, Lila Acheson Wallace, co-founder of the Readers’ Digest, helped develop social programs at YWCAs throughout the country for young female factory workers. She knew that well-rounded young people were important to building strong communities and, with her husband DeWitt, left an These Mt. Vernon YMCA regulars sport their new one-of-a-kind creations. endowment to foster their development. In the past few years, the Wallaces’ gift helped five youth-serving agencies improve management, planning, and operations so they including new telephone and computer systems for staff, could continue and expand their work in Westchester’s and new computers in community labs. most distressed areas. “The recession has been a double whammy for Westchester’s nonprofits,” says Catherine Nepperhan Community Center serves 15,000 children and Marsh, executive of the Westchester Community families in Yonkers, providing programs that help the Foundation. “Government and private support has community tackle low graduation rates, drug abuse, gangs, decreased, but demand for services is overwhelming. They crime, unemployment, and apathy. CRE first helped the need to not only survive, but also be able to do more with board understand its fiduciary responsibilities after less.” The Foundation made a three-year $275,000 grant Westchester Community Foundation helped the Center to Community Resource Exchange (CRE), a overhaul its accounting software, fiscal, and staffing sophisticated nonprofit management consultancy, to procedures. Next, CRE consultants led workshops to help work closely with the agencies. CRE helped five groups— motivate board members to embrace their fundraising the Yonkers YWCA and YMCA, CLUSTER Community responsibilities, recruit new board members, and develop a Services, Nepperhan Community Center, and the Mount strategic plan. “As a result of the grant, all of the key systems Vernon Family YMCA—strengthen boards, coach critical to the effective operation of a nonprofit organization executive directors, and develop strategic plans. The grant are now in place and operating at a high level of efficiency,” also paid for technology upgrades at each agency, says Dr. Jim Bostic, Nepperhan’s executive director.

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Westchester closely with the Community entire staff to Foundation’s facilitate overdue support conversations on helped the topic. CLUSTER Community The staff now has a Services, an clearer understanding agency that keeps of how their day-toyoung people out of day work responds to Board leadership + strong executive prison and helps their community and director = agencies equipped to address families avoid fulfills the national pressing and long-term challenges in times homelessness, mission. Today, the Y of transition and economic uncertainty examine its proudly brings together operations from stem to stern. It Yonkers residents from different races Upgraded computers, work stations, now has a new staff performance and cultures to remove barriers that and file servers = efficiency in appraisal system and an divide the community. Executive operations and better programs emergency transition plan; director Yejide Okunribido is thrilled. streamlined accounting “This grant effectively gave the YWCA State of the art computer labs = procedures; and a better her voice back and re-established her as children are improving computer skills understanding of how it will a major community-based organization and achieving academic success achieve long-term program and in Yonkers.” fundraising goals through a stronger partnership between the The timing of CRE’s services was also board and executive director. “With critical for the Yonkers and Mount CRE’s help, the board and staff can now work together to Vernon YMCAs, agencies that are cornerstones in their raise much-needed money to keep CLUSTER’s programs communities. There was a large turnover in leadership going,” said executive director Toni Volchok. “It could not at both Ys, have happened at a better time!” and the new executive directors and board members received intensive guidance on the roles and At the Yonkers YWCA, leadership and staff had been responsibilities of effective leadership, such as how to grappling with how their organization’s national mission develop organizational budgets and when to bring in to eliminate racism and empower women meshed with outside professional financial management expertise. serving the shifting demographics of the community. With board leadership and strong management, the As a result, not all parts of the community felt the Y was agencies never missed a beat, delivering an impressive there for them. Community Resource Exchange worked range of programs.

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getting October 2011 Newsletter

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Inside:

Get Out the Moving Vans Love Delivered to Cancer Patients, Students Arrested for Horseplay? It Takes a Village to Save a Farm, The Wallace Legacy, and more …

The October issue of our newsletter reports on the results of past grants. Most of them were made possible by individuals who set up charitable funds with us during their lifetimes or through their wills. If you would like to learn more about how to do this, please contact our general counsel, Jane Wilton, at 212.686.2563. We’ve also included reports on grants made by our divisions on Long Island and in Westchester. This issue and past newsletters can be found at www.nycommunitytrust.org. If you’d prefer to receive our newsletter by email, write to newsletter@nyct-cfi.org.

More school groups will be able to learn about the captivating contents of the Staten Island Museum when it moves to a bigger and better home, open to the public in 2013. Photo by Michael Falco, courtesy of the Staten Island Borough President

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