A MESSAGE FROM OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Greetings STRONG family, partners, and supporters! In the face of so many unprecedented crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the racial justice reckoning throughout the country, recent voter suppression efforts in Georgia, and so on, it has sometimes felt daunting making sure our work continues while the world is changing rapidly around us. But rest assured STRONG Youth, and our passionate, bold leaders continue to be fearless in our efforts to demand this country live up to its values and our communities uplifted. Reflecting on the past year, I am filled with pride for the courageous work accomplished by our STRONG Youth teams, many outlined in our 2020 Annual report, to make sure we prevent the crises and devastation we saw last year from happening again. We are committed to learning from the trials and tribulations of yesterday to disrupt inequitable systems and create opportunities that benefit us all equally. Thank you for being such a valued member of the STRONG Youth family and team! In solidarity, Rahsmia Zatar. MA, LMSW
ANNUAL REPORT 2019
CREATIVITY AND PASSION IN ACTION
“I am very proud of my daughter. I am so happy that my daughter no longer breaks my mind. I have seen a great change in her. I am proud of everything my daughter is accomplishing." (Mom, Hempstead)
youth and families received intensive counseling services
14k hours of direct services through Nassau & Suffolk
6 STRONG Scholar Educational Support Centers established “A couple of years ago, a young lady walked in through our doors. She was referred by a diversion program described as aggressive and reluctant. Her mother seemed overwhelmed, not knowing how to help her middle schooler make better choices. The young lady was involved with a local street organization and struggled to attend school. She often ran away from home. After some time, her counselors realized she has a penchant for mechanics. They connected with her over 'mangonadas' and cars. She joined our female rites of passage, girls group, and photography workshops. Slowly she uncovered a history of painful experiences that stopped her from connecting with others, especially her family. After family and individual counseling, she learned how to express her emotions and cope with triggers in her daily life. She is now on the honor roll. Her goal is to graduate high school early, become a mechanic and open her own shop.”
Josie, 14 (Hempstead)
AN OVERVIEW It's hard to put into words the extent of the day-to-day work alongside our youth and families. One day, we advocate for students to get special education services and then mediate a family crisis. Another day, we work with a mother and child to reunite after separation and then take a group fishing for the first time. From counseling to mentoring and advocacy to case management, we understand that our families' path to healing and life change must address the many gaps that led to their disenfranchisement. The gaps are wide, and partnerships are crucial. Individual 15.4%
PROFILE OF OUR YOUTH
18 to 21 years 5.7%
9 to 13 yrs 26.9%
14 to 18 years 67.4%
Case Management 46.8%
“My biggest accomplishment is not being involved in the criminal justice system. The biggest lesson I have learned is how to put consequential thinking into practice. Now I'm working on a trade.” (Jose 17, Uniondale)
"STRONG helped me move on from things. I’m really thankful because I knew I was in the wrong path. I’m glad I got the chance I needed to mature a little more... I’m really proud of myself and the progress I accomplished." Jordan, 12 (Wyandanch)
90% say they now want to do better in school
88% understand better how decisions impact their future
75% learned how to manage their feelings better
8 out of 10 are less involved in the street life
7 out of 10 decreased substance use
David came into the program in 3rd grade. He was referred due to academic concerns, behavior issues at school and a family history of incarceration and gang involvement. Our counselors advocated for additional educational support. They used art in one-on-one sessions to work on his coping skills. The breakthrough came when his family started attending "Family Game Nights." The family then began family counseling sessions. They learned to communicate and began to heal as a family. David started to thrive in his academics, emotional growth, and leadership. He is now part of our Youth Advisory Board, a powerful orator, and an aspiring filmmaker. He produced a few PSAs on the importance of voting with his peers.
David, 10 (Uniondale)
EDUCATE & PREVENT Our school-based prevention Chapter programs provide social-emotional learning, mentoring, and home-based services for students. They work to improve the youth’s sense of connection to the school, community, family and gain a better understanding of self. As an added support to the district, chapters bring meaningful after-school programs, outreach, large-scale presentations, counseling, career exploration or access to building students' resilience against negative behavior. In 2020, we worked with Brentwood, Bellport, Wyandanch, and Uniondale school districts. Dept. of Labor Work-Based Readiness. Why Try certified. La Cultura Cura certified.
Champions like you make all of this possible.
“My biggest accomplishment is improving my grades and achieving a 95% GPA. The greatest lesson I have learned is that the past can hurt but you can either run from it or learn from it.” Mary, 14 (Hempstead)
4.5 out of 5 star rating for academic support during COVID
25 youth received the National Work Based Readiness Credential through Dept. Of Labor 5 Public Service Announcements on the census, voting and COVID safety were produced by our teams
MENTOR YOUTH & BUILD COMMUNITY Mentoring. It is no secret that mentoring supports the resiliency of our youth. That is why we asked for your help, and you responded by sharing your time, talents, and resources to open horizons for our youth.
COVID Response. With your help, we jumped into action, adapting quickly to the changing needs of the most underserved communities. Together we distributed food and PPE, educated around COVID safety, connected families to resources, and supported them emotionally as they dealt with the mounting pressures from the pandemic.
Social Justice. True advocacy must walk hand in hand with education. We launched Freedom Schools to empower our youth to become advocates.
“My biggest accomplishment is graduating and taking positive steps for my future. The greatest lesson I have learned is that strength grows in the moments when you think you can’t go on.” Anthony, 18 (Freeport)
food distribution & mobile pantry
police reform advocacy
tele-health & virtual support
Mentoring and extracurricular programs for 2020 Freedom Schools
Film production DJ workshops Freedom Schools Bike Riding Twitch virtual support group HIIT workouts Wellness Day Art workshops Beach clean ups Hiking Yoga Acting Career Day Knitting Crafting Fishing
INTERVENE & TRANSFORM John moved to Long Island to reunite with his mother after 10 years of separation. He was fleeing gang persecution and the memory of seeing his father murdered. When he arrived, he had a hard time connecting with his family and at school. He started getting into trouble and felt pressured to join a crew. When he came to STRONG, he saw an opportunity to transform his life. He has since improved his grades and his relationship with his mom. He has become a peer leader, volunteering at the summer soccer camp, learning how to film, and producing music with positive messages. He also graduated from a substance abuse program. His goal is to graduate high school and help his mother support his siblings.
John, 16 (Brentwood)
"I felt alone in trying to help my son overcome his struggles. Then STRONG came and started working with us. I have not felt alone since. They are available, supportive, and understanding." Dad, Brentwood
Engage. Through a milieu of partners and boots-on-the-ground street outreach, we identify youth looking to transform their life. Support. Using a comprehensive, holistic approach, we work with each youth with counseling, case management, and mentoring. Connect. We cannot do it alone. We connect them with like-minded partners to support their recovery. Heal. Life change requires healing. Using restorative, culturally rooted practices, we help each family begin their journey to healing.
HEALING IN COMMUNITY As a youth, family, and community development organization, we strive to empower youth, survivors, and their families to improve their lives, communities and create societal change. In 2020, we made substantial strides in nurturing peace in our communities on three fronts: response to COVID, police reform, and building our region’s capacity to provide traumaresponsive, culturally rooted healing. NYS Covid-19 Vaccine Equity Task Force: Under the guidance of the Secretary of State Rossana Rosado and Attorney General Letitia James, S.T.R.O.N.G. worked with other partners to build trust, promote health literacy and language access, and implement fair and equitable policies. Police reform: S.T.R.O.N.G. took part in creating the historic “People’s Re-imaging Policing Plan” as part of powerhouse coalitions LI Advocates for Police Accountability and LI United to Transform Policing and Community Safety steering committee. Healing Generations Institute: S.T.R.O.N.G. was honored as the national northeast region anchor site. This collaborative supports the integration and sustainability of healingcentered, culturally rooted services across the nation. It targets agencies serving children.
I promise to love, respect, nurture and care for my community... Too many lives have been lost, too many families scarred. The violence must cease; I PROMISE IT WILL START WITH ME BECAUSE I AM S.T.R.O.N.G.
STRONG CHAMPIONS Host Partners The Journey Church True Life Church of God City Hill Church La Espiguita Thank you for graciously hosting our programs throughout LI!
Youth Builders Edward Gonzales JR Films DJ Whutever & T Mobile Merrick Bicycles Tri-Team Teatro Yerbabruja Lacey & Compass Unity Girls, Inc. Over the Rainbow Productions Planned Parenthood James Hodge & MLK Center Byron & Buddy Lighthouse Jules De Leon Shanna Ryan Kraig Knibb April Victor Jonessia Moore-Jarrell Nita Webb Belinda Watkins Thank you for mentoring, teaching, and sharing your talents with our youth!
"When I first began it was hard to pay attention or listen to adults but now STRONG has changed me in the way I act and speak and present myself. I see how my actions have consequences." Nicole, 13, (Bellport)
Funders Suffolk Co. Probation Nassau Co. Youth Board Hazen Foundation Heizing-Simons Foundation Unbound Philanthropy The Scott's Miracle-Gro Foundation LI Community Foundation Uniondale School District Thank you for resourcing the heart and passion that goes into this work!
La Cultura Cura Xinachtli Girls Island Harvest Make the Road NY SEPA Mujer Outreach CARECEN ECLI C.A.C.H.E. & Tech F.I.N. Hope for Youth Nassau Haven Uplift our Towns Thank you for joining us in the struggle to support our youth & families!
FINANCIALS Total Budget ............$ 1,280,000 Direct Services .................$ 998,400 Administrative & General...$ 76,800 Facilities & Maintenance ...$ 51,200 Management .....................$ 140,800
My biggest accomplishment is staying clean and healthy. The greatest lesson I have learned is that you have to earn everything you want. Josiah, 18 (Brentwood)
BOARD OF DIRECTORS Sergio Argueta Founder & Board President
Olivia Ildefonso Treasurer
Fred Brewington, Esq. Board Member
Edgar Campbell Board Member
A MESSAGE FROM OUR BOARD PRESIDENT I've never met a strong person with an easy past" is the inspirational quote that personifies the mission STRONG Youth embarked on 20 years ago. It was then that a group of twenty-something-year-olds and teenagers from diverse backgrounds and communities came together to demand the right to opportunities and safe environments that eludes too many youths in our communities. As you sit here and read the report of a single-year achievement of this organization, we humbly say thank you! STRONG has embraced that our existence is only made possible by allies that genuinely believe in equity. Their mind-to-heart connection affirms that all young people have an inalienable right to self-determination as a fundamental civil and human right. Young people should be entitled to live in safe communities, achieve their maximum potential, and live fruitful meaningful lives. We recognize the inherent greatness that lives within all Youth. With your help, STRONG amplifies the voice of young people who are architects in righting the wrongs of injustice, they are our moral compass, and they are our greatest hope. Your contributions, partnership, financial support, and unyielding love for the community will continue to make it possible for all STRONG Youth to achieve the unimaginable! Sergio Argueta, LMSW Board President