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22 Brooklyn schools awarded Walentas Family Foundation Neighborhood School Grants

Grants Support Diverse School Programming, from Science and Tech to the Arts and Literacy

November 2, 2016 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Jed Walentas. Eagle file photo by Kate Attardo
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The Walentas Family Foundation has announced the recipients of this year’s Neighborhood School Grants. For the 2016-2017 school year, 22 Brooklyn schools will receive a total of $375,000 in grant funding to support diverse initiatives for students in grades K-12, including literacy, the arts, tech, science, college readiness, architecture and physical education. Since its founding in 2013, the Neighborhood School Grants program has distributed more than $1.25 million to Brooklyn schools. 

“The Neighborhood School Grants program was founded on the belief that vibrant and successful schools are fundamental parts of thriving communities, and that community plays a role in the success of its schools,” said Jed Walentas, CEO of Two Trees Management Company. “We are thrilled to support an incredible mix of new and successful returning programs this year — from exploring identities to arts therapy to coding — that otherwise would not be possible at these schools.”

Highlights from this year’s programming include: Bike the Change at El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice, where students will train for and design multiday cycling trips; Drop Everything and Read at Park Place Middle School, which will help the school grow the libraries of their humanities and science departments; The Artistic Intelligent Young Men initiative at Brooklyn Community Arts & Media High School, an arts-based mentorship program that brings together black male students who explore and interrogate representations of black masculine identity; arts therapy for students at the Brooklyn High School for Leadership and Community Service; and The Thinkers of Tomorrow, an architecture and design program at P.S. 132 The Conselyea School.

 There are no restrictions on the types of programs that are eligible for the grants. The foundation prioritizes projects that strongly impact students’ learning experiences and enrichment and help a school to achieve its central mission to further draw on the creativity, vision and energy of the entire school community, not supported by the school’s existing budget allocation. Grants of up to $25,000 are available to schools in Brooklyn Districts 13 and 14 every year. The foundation is the philanthropic effort of the Walentas family, founders of Two Trees Management Company.

— From the Walentas Family Foundation


All 2016-2017 programs:

P.S. 3 The Bedford Village School: STEAM Experiential Education for Leadership and Sustainability

P.S. 3’s STEAM Experiential Education for Leadership and Sustainability program engages students in rigorous experiential learning through STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics), supporting the school’s commitment to leadership and sustainability education through a school-wide initiative which links the two and teaches students to become good Earth Citizens. Inspired by the Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation, P.S. 3’s program will incorporate field trips to study-related institutions and experiential, project-based learning.


P.S. 9 Teunis G Bergen: Dance Room Renovation 

P.S. 9 prioritizes its dance program based on the belief that movement is integral to the learning process of young children and its dedication of differentiated instruction and an enrichment-oriented instructional model. Integrated with its literacy and social studies curriculum, students learn “choreographic tools,” and works in groups, partnerships, or individually to create short works of choreography based on themes inspired by books, poetry, and social issues. With funding from a Neighborhood School Grant, P.S. 9 will renovate its dance room, installing a sprung floor and mirrored walls to further support its dance curriculum.


P.S. 11 Purvis Behan Elementary School: P.S. 11 Coding Program

As a part of its technology curriculum, P.S. 11 seeks to provide opportunities for students to acquire sophisticated computer literacy in order to develop students’ critical thinking skills, creativity, and analytic abilities and to motivate them to explore STEM pathways. Using Sparks’ Lyka Adventure for younger students and Beta CodePop for older students, this program engages all students K-5 in computer programming, video game design, and story-driven learning.


P.S. 20 The Clinton Hill School: Green Arts

P.S. 20’s Green Arts program is an integrated environmental science and visual arts program that promotes visual inquiry that crosses the boundary between science and art. Green Arts merged P.S. 20’s visual arts and ecology instruction initiatives into a mutually reinforcing program of weekly instruction that focuses on both observation of the natural world and individual expression.


Benjamin Banneker Elementary School: STEM Enrichment After School

Benjamin Banneker Elementary School’s STEM Enrichment Project engages President Obama’s STEM objective to increase the representation of minorities and women in the science and technology pipeline. To further increase students’ exposure to science, technology, engineering, and math fields, Benjamin Banneker will offer an afterschool engineering program, providing an additional opportunity to learn foundational engineering skills, such as simple machines, circuitry, and computer programming.


Park Place Middle School: Drop Everything and Read … across All Content Areas

In order to build a school community of readers and build on the success of its Drop Everything and Read program, Park Place Community Middle School will expand the independent reading program by purchasing additional titles to expand the libraries across the humanities and science departments.  Students will be able to take the books home and receive support from their parents to reinforce independent reading during after school hours. Park Place’s literacy department will also invest in resources to assist parents in supporting their students’ independent reading at home.


P.S. 282: Music Enrichment Program and Community Recital

P.S. 282’s music education is a critical of its mission to provide students with a range of educational experiences that bring out a passion for learning. The Music Enrichment Program and Community Recital will provide all students with hands-on music education with a variety of instruments and the opportunity to participate in an afterschool marching band, culminating in a public recital at the end of the 2016-2017 school year.


Brooklyn Community Arts & Media High School: Project AIYM: Artistic Intelligent Young Men

Project AIM: Artistic Intelligent Young Men is a 12-week intensive arts-based mentorship project where Brooklyn Community Arts & Media High School (BCAM) male students and staff members engage the essential question: How do I make meaning of, and create authentic representations about, myself that push boundaries and challenge what it means to be a young man today? Project AIM generates discussions around Black male identity and representation using the interactive interview curriculum Question Bridge, alongside contemporary art, media, and artists’ visits to investigate this important question. Project participants collaborate develop photographic, video, and musical works which share their views and personal representations, culminating in a final exhibition at a neighborhood arts institution. 


Urban Assembly School of Law & Justice: College Readiness Program

Urban Assembly School for Law & Justice (SLJ) College Readiness Programs offers SLJ students enrichment and college and career services necessary to succeed in college and in life. By strategically placing students in off-site enrichment programs at cultural and educational organizations, providing support services necessary for them to participate in programs, and managing off- and on-site enrichment programming, SLJ’s College Readiness Program provides an individualized approach to enrichment learning. Additionally, SLJ creates personalized college-focused senior plans by: hosting a family college night; creating advisory lessons for college and career planning; assisting in college application preparation, financial aid filings, and resume and personal statement writing; and offering campus tours and college trips.


Brooklyn High School for Leadership and Community Service: Creative Arts Therapy for Youth

The Brooklyn High School for Leader and Community Service (BHSLCS), a transfer school serving students from low-income families, serves students who face a wide array of challenges in seeking to achieve their educational goals, sometimes including past experiences with trauma, mental illness (including depression), and emotional disorders. Through the Creative Arts Therapy for Youth program, BHLCS provides an alternative therapeutic model to serve young adults who had not previously responded to more traditional models of behavioral therapy. The program will include a licensed art therapist, assisted by art therapy students from nearby Pratt Institute.


P.S. 23 Carter G Woodson Elementary: Performance Arts Establishment Program

In order to offer performing arts education and enrichment to the students of P.S. 23, the school will enter into a partnership with the 92nd Street Y to develop a child-centric dance, drama, and music program. In its pilot year, the goals of this program include the implementation of in-school instruction and off-site field trips throughout the school year that makes use of both the P.S. 23 and 92Y’s unique capacities to provide additional opportunities for student success and achievement and increase parent involvement.


P.S. 34 Oliver H. Perry: LEGO Engineering

P.S. 34’s LEGO Engineering program utilizes LEGO educational kits to give students an engaging introduction to hands-on inquiry-based STEM learning during specialized school day classes and community programs. Students in grades 1-5 engage with foundational engineering skills, learning about simple machines, robotics, and coding. During the 2016-2017 school year, the LEGO Engineering program will be integrated with P.S. 34’s eco- and sustainability curriculum, to further prepare students to thrive in STEM related fields. Through the LEGO Engineering program’s special projects, P.S. 34 has deepened its connection with neighborhood, displaying student projects in pop-up exhibitions at the Greenpoint Public Library and the Greenpoint YMCA.


P.S. 132 The Conselyea School: Designers: The Thinkers of Tomorrow

Through a partnership with the Salvadori Center, P.S. 132 provides innovative STEAM curriculum in its dedicated design studio. Focusing on architecture, students will learn engineering, design, physics, and the basics of urban planning, students engage with the built environment directly surrounding their school and return to the classroom to build and problem solve with hands-on, creative activities that bring architecture to life.


P.S. 147 Isaac Remsen: Community Partners for the Arts

P.S. 147’s Community Partners in the Arts program provides students and teachers with experience in art making, arts literacy, and curriculum connections in the arts. Working with teaching artists, students learn about art materials and techniques through projects that correspond to their science and social studies curriculum. Visits to NURTUREart support in-school programming, offering students the unique opportunity to meet the artists and curators involved in the gallery’s rotating exhibitions, exposing them to professionals of their community, and career possibilities in the arts. After school, students connect with the local art community by exploring Bushwick galleries, artist studios, and alternative artistic spaces with the Art Explorers Club.


I.S. 318 Eugenio Maria de Hostos: National Champion Chess Program

For the past 15 years, P.S. 318 has fielded the top scholastic chess program in the United States, which has been featured in documentaries, books, and an upcoming Hollywood film. Through chess, student players learn strategic thinking, logic, the value of hard work, and the concentration skills that serve them beyond the chessboard. I.S. 318 seeks to expand support for its girls’ chess program, as girls are historically underrepresented in chess and its team has produces some of the finest female players in recent history. The team will practice twice weekly throughout the schoolyear and attend the state championship in Saratoga Springs, NY.


Brooklyn Arbor: Brooklyn Arbor Performance Cycle

Brooklyn Arbor’s Music Program is a major part of the fabric of its school community, with strong parent involvement and the integration of music into many school milestone events. The Performance Cycle builds off the music program to address theater and performance objectives outlined in the Department of Education Blueprint for the Arts. The Performance Cycle will allow students to learn about and create three performances from start to finish with the support of faculty and outside experts that are designed to engage the student body, the school community, and the neighborhood in which it thrives.


The Green School: Academy for Environmental Careers: Public Art Residencies

The Green School’s Public Art Residencies program brings artist Ellie Balk to The Green School to work directly with faculty and students on art projects culminating in public pieces both inside the school and throughout the surrounding community, including a stained glass window installation in the school’s lobby and the multi-year #VisualizePi mural program.


Conselyea Preparatory School: Dancing Classrooms

Conselyea Preparatory School, in partnership with Dancing Classrooms, seeks to cultivate essential life skills in middle-school students through the art of social dance, using the vocabulary of ballroom dance to foster respect, self- and social-awareness, teamwork, confidence, and a sense of joy and accomplishments in every child. Conselyea Preparatory School has partnered with Dancing Classrooms since 2006, winning city championships in 2012 and 2013.


Lyons Community School: Urban Workshop

Through Lyons Community School’s Urban Workshop program, high school students work on two gazebo construction projects to improve community gardens in underserved Brooklyn neighborhoods. This program provides under-credited students with an opportunity to earn high school credits in a hands-on setting and improves math skills for all students by providing an applied context for learning. The Urban Workshop program also improves teamwork and collaboration skills for participating students and improves their feeling of self-efficacy in school. This program also addresses a community need by providing community gardens with high-quality gazebos. As a result, participating gardens attract and retain new members and receive a gathering space for community events.


El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice: Bike the Change You Want to See

A capstone project for students involved in El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice popular bicycle program, Bike the Change You Want to See combines physical education, experiential learning, community service and adventure travel. In conjunction with their teachers, participating students will  plan (and ride) multi-day tours that incorporate aspects of studies in history, science, math, art and literature.


P 373 K The Brooklyn Transition Center: DaceAbility Studio

The Brooklyn Transition Center serves a diverse population of students with equally diverse needs. The DanceAbility Studio will provide a space for its students to experience art through dance, physical fitness, and relieve their sensory needs, creating an environment where students have the opportunity to learn, practice, and master a variety of skills to help them become healthy and active members of their communities. Students with autism and sensory based disorders will also benefit from this new space and will engage in activities that target gross motor movement and fine motor coordination led by the Brooklyn Transition Center’s team of physical and occupational therapists.


Compass Charter School: Explorers Initiative

The Explorers Initiative at Compass Charter School empowers and guides elementary school students to direct their own learning through inquiry. By providing students with a range of customizable learning tools and resources, teachers are able to use a variety of entry points to engage students in the learning process, incite their passion for learning, and help students delve deeply into specific content areas. Recognizing that students have a range of learning styles and requirements, as well as specific sensory, speech, and physical and occupational therapeutic needs, the Explorers Initiative is designed to help the children learn in their own way and at their own pace through the exploration of Brooklyn and beyond.


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