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East Harlem Educational Community Meeting

Sinergia, Inc., who for 33 years has provided service and support to individuals with disabilities and their families, is invoking a special meeting to discuss educational solutions for Latino children in El Barrio.

As a follow up to the East Harlem Promise Neighborhood grant submitted on June 2010, Sinergia is putting together a very special meeting and inviting the planning team, which includes schools, partners and supportive organizations that participated in this initiative plus other East Harlem stakeholders who are interested in advancing the state of education and the development of the community.

Although Sinergia did not receive an award this year from the U.S. Department of Education for the aforementioned grant, the non-profit is determined to pursue other avenues that address the educational inequities and the achievement gap that exists between the children of East Harlem and other more affluent communities.

A new study released by the Community Service Society make this even more imperative. The report analyzes data showing that Latino youth have the lowest school enrollment of any ethnicity, and young Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, the two largest Latino sub-groups, have extremely low rates of employment. Puerto Rican youth, in particular, stand out as having alarmingly high rates of disconnection from school and work. These figures reinforce the need to develop comprehensive and sustained solutions that will address this issue.

In addition, a report by the National Committee for Responsible Philanthropy evaluated 672 foundations that gave at least 1 million in grants to education from 2006-200. Only about 11 percent of those grants went to “marginalized communities”, defined primarily as children in low-income families and minority children. Just 2% of those funds went to fostering long-term change through advocacy efforts and community building. This means that the “alarming inequities in educational opportunities” in America remain unaddressed, as the report charges. Since about half of public school funding comes from the local level, students living in poor areas tend to go to schools that are under-funded, and kids in richer areas go to better funded schools. This feeds the persistent achievement gap between low-income and high-income students and minority and white students.

This meeting will be a unique opportunity to construct a collaboration that addresses the student achievement gap and fosters a supportive community that embraces our children and families. During the first hour there will be a discussion about the achievement gap of children in East Harlem and ways we can continue our efforts to establish a Promise Neighborhood in the area. Juan Cartagena from the Community Service Society will speak about their youth report and the status of Latinos.

The second half of the meeting will be a presentation by three organizations: the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, Manhattan Neighborhood Network and Hunter College School of Social Work, CUNY (which will be moving to East Harlem). In addition to that, the Avance Charter High School will also present their proposal for a community grown charter school for East Harlem. This will give you an opportunity to meet with their leaders and learn how they will contribute to the community.

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