Monday, December 6, 2010

MNN, CCCADI and Aprendes: Making Their Mark in El Barrio

Three organizations will soon bring much needed services to El Barrio. The Aprendes Foundation is a philanthropic organization dedicated to community engagement and education, strategic partnerships, fundraising and critical interventions for East Harlem and the Bronx. They help organize charter schools and support communities that want to take control of their public education. Aprendes president Tony Lopez (photo left) says they are currently submitting an application for a proposed community grown charter school opening in September 2011.

Founded in 1992, the Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) offers Manhattan residents the ability to create and submit their own videos for air on four Public Access cable TV stations, potentially reaching 620,000 viewers. MNN offers free training and certification classes in video production, editing and broadcasting to Manhattan residents. According to Zenaida Mendez (photo right), who is in charge of Community Outreach & Media Services, this year they trained 11,000 people, 300 of them youths. Their Youth by Youth Media program trains young people with skills they can use to make money, and she says a control room operator can earn around $60,000 a year.

MNN purchased a firehouse on 104th Street between Lexington & 3rd Avenue, turning a building which had been empty for 18 years from an eyesore to a cutting edge facility with 9000 square feet of open multi purpose space that will help break the digital divide in Spanish Harlem.

The Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute started 34 years ago as a research project and has been awarded a firehouse on 125th Street. "We're in the process of phasing in and should be completed by May 2013," says Director Martha Moreno Vega. "It will be a state of the art cultural center for use by the community. We are cultivating various projects, among them "Mi Querido Barrio," and its accompanying cultural tourism and public campaign. As part of that we are training young people on how to lead a non profit organization. Another project is "University Without Walls", for young people to acquire an arts degree online," she added.

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