Monday, December 6, 2010

Recap of Community Educational Forum

Sinergia was very pleased to host a Community Educational Forum on December 1, 2010 at our Metropolitan Parent Center. Community leaders, parents, and stakeholders interested in advancing the academic, employment and career achievements of young people were invited to share information and discuss possible solutions to deal with the educational inequities that impact the lives of Latino children and youth. In one of the heaviest downpours of the year we had an amazing turnout of about twenty six people.

Although Sinergia did not receive the Promise Neighborhood grant this year, we are committed to pursuing collaborations and strategies that will reduce the overall achievement gap between East Harlem children and youth and those residing in more affluent communities. This forum was just one of our  efforts to engage the community in improving the quality of life of children and youth throughout their life span and advancing efforts for groups to work together to build and strengthen El Barrio. 

Juan Cartagena from the Community Service Society study presented a new of Latino Youth in New York City, which was very propitious to the meeting's agenda. The report, which was recently featured in the New York Times, focuses on youth from 16-24 years in New York City and the trends in school, work and income of this group. The statistics are sobering:

  • Latinos make up the largest portion 33% of the age groups of children (fewer than 16 years of age) and youth (ages 16-24).
  • Puerto Ricans, especially males, are the most disadvantaged youth group in New York City, with rates of school enrollment, educational attainment, and employment lower than any comparable group, including black males.
  • Young Puerto Ricans and Dominicans are the two largest Latino subgroups and have extremely low rates of employment
  • Latino youth live in poor households (those with annual earnings of $18,000 for a family of three) more than any other ethnic group.
  • Puerto Ricans face the greatest challenges of all youth sub-groups, despite the fact that they are overwhelming born in New York City.

Dr. Marta Moreno VegaDr. Martha Moreno Vega, Director of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, stated that the sad truth is that many small to midsized nonprofits have and will be shut down. "The infrastructure that was built is getting decimated and in the absence of action our institutions will continue to erode. We need leadership to give voice to these inequities," she added.

The last agenda item of the meeting was a discussion of next steps to move the conversation along. They include:
  • Developing a different narrative to deal with the new and grim realities affecting our students, families and communities.
  • Broadcasting future community forums through the Manhattan Neighborhood Network.
  • Inviting public and elected officials to the forums.
  • Soliciting greater youth participation from the communities we serve and getting their perspectives.
  • Fostering greater parent engagement in the educational status of young people, and helping them understand the data and outcomes that affect their children's future.
  • Community organizing, community organizing, community organizing!
  • Greater use of internet and social media to share and disseminate information, studies, reports, data.
  • Demanding greater access, accountability and responsibility from media, particularly Spanish media, to expose the truth and tell the stories of children and families.
  • Creating coalitions to salvage small, vulnerable organizations and institutions that face extinction or reductions in vital services to our communities.
  • Expanding voter registration drives.
This Community Education Forum was an exciting and promising start to conversations dedicated to improving the academic performance and achievement of Latino and other minority students. If you would like to join our efforts please email us at information at

During the second part of the meeting we had three organizations who are deeply committed to making significant contributions to East Harlem gave presentations about their relocation plans to the neighborhood. See more below.

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