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Walentas Family Foundation gives $400K to 20 Brooklyn schools

Walentas Family Foundation has given $3.4 million to Brooklyn public schools since 2013

November 17, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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The Walentas Family Foundation is pleased to announce the recipients of this year’s Neighborhood School Grants. For the 2022-2023 school year, 20 Brooklyn schools will receive a total of approximately $400,000 in grant funding to support diverse initiatives for students in grades K-12, including career training, experiential education, professional development, finance, and after-school programs. Since its founding in 2013, the Neighborhood School Grants program has distributed $3.4 million to Brooklyn schools.

“After a tough few years for educating students in the city, it’s clear we need tangible interventions to recuperate the critical skills needed to prepare kids for their future,” said Jed Walentas, President of the Walentas Family Foundation. “Our Neighborhood School Grants program was founded to support local schools  – whether that be after-school programs, new curriculum, or other worthy programs to support students – and uplifting the borough’s next generation. With the pandemic came a complete disruption of traditional schooling and proper socialization for students, we strongly believe these programs will accelerate learning opportunities and make up for the time that they missed.”

Jed Walentas. Photo by: Kate Attardo

The Walentas Family Foundation believes that individual schools themselves know how best to assess and address their needs given their unique capabilities and resources, and so there are no restrictions on the types of programs that are eligible for funding. 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, 14, and 15 every year.

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All 2022-2023 programs:

PS 46 Edward C. Blum: $15,000 for STEAM Expansion

For the third year of NSG supported STEAM expansion, PS46 will work with the League of Young Inventors to bring the project-based learning framework used in the school’s engineering-focused Innovation STEAM Lab and Makerspace into their classrooms. PS 46 will focus on expanding the use of design thinking and project-based learning in the school. Overseen by the STEAM coordinator, the $15,000 grant will support teachers with professional development, planning time, and curriculum to build on the work done in the STEAM Lab. They will continue their partnerships with the Brooklyn STEAM Center, Brooklyn Navy Yard, and Pratt’s Robotics Consortium, all located within walking distance of the school. PS 46 will end the year with its second annual STEAM Expo.


PS 270 The Dekalb School: $25,000 for Project-Based Learning “Expeditions”

As a part of its turnaround effort, PS 270 will continue their NSG funded partnership with NYC Outward Bound to design project-based learning “expeditions” with local organizations (like Pratt Institute, located across the street). Data from the previous year indicates that the expedition resulted in increased attendance, higher teacher engagement, and a higher number of applications –all key to rebuilding this neighborhood school.


Arts & Letters United: $25,000 for Intentional Integration Work

Founded in 2019 by the merging of Arts & Letters, which served primary white students, with PS 305, which served primarily Black students, Arts and Letters United’s will continue its multi-year intentional integration work. As schools reopen to parents and families, Arts & Letters United will work with the organization Kindred to engage parents, staff, and administrators to build a common vision for equity at their school.


PS 59 William Floyd Elementary School: $25,000 for PS 59 Dollars Attendance program

95% of PS 59s students live in poverty –far above the city average of 71% and district average of 75% –which correlates to higher levels of chronic absenteeism. PS 59 Dollars is an attendance program that incentivizes parents by providing them with extra cash if their children hit certain attendance milestones. The pilot program that took place last school year made a significant impact on attendance, providing families with meaningful assistance and a new avenue for parent engagement.


PS 124 Silas B. Dutcher School: $25,000 for Teaching Matters Program

PS 124 will provide all K-5 teachers a third year of professional development with Teaching Matters, focusing on literacy, math, and culturally responsive learning to serve the schools most high needs students –1/3 of students live in nearby homeless shelters and 1/3 of students have disabilities.


PS 147 Isaac Remsen: $7,000 for Attendance Initiative Program

PS 147’s attendance initiative program will focus on students with an attendance rate of 75% or below, offering before-school break and street dancing (a student favorite) led by the school’s PE teacher and after-school social emotional learning activities and restorative circles with the school’s guidance counselor.


PS 250 George H. Lindsay: $25,000 for In-School Club Program

In response to the Student Council’s advocacy, PS 250 will establish an in-school club program. PS 250 teachers will lead clubs in subjects requested by students–dance and performing arts, team sports, coding and robotics, and cultural cooking –which will meet weekly during the school day and culminate with an end-of-year Community Day celebration.


PS 15 Patrick F. Daly: $25,000 for After-School Programming Geared Towards the Outdoors

Students at PS 15 live primarily at Red Hook Houses and have little access to nature –during the upcoming school year, the lack of open outdoor space will be compounded by the construction planned for both school playgrounds. In response, PS 15 will partner with Right at School to provide after-school programming geared towards the outdoors. Over the 2022 summer break, Right at School will train PS 15’s paraprofessionals and school aides in outdoor education so they can help facilitate the program this fall.


MS 915 Bridges: $21,000 for Targeted Professional Development for Teachers

Since its founding in 2019, MS 915 has worked to develop a culturally responsive curriculum that reflects its uniquely diverse student body–35% Black, 33% white, 20% Hispanic or Latinx, 7% multi-racial, 4% Asian, 1% Native American. MS 915 will work with Minor Collective to provide targeted professional development so teachers can more effectively teach the new curriculum.


PS 958: $25,000 for Experiential Education Program

During its first year, PS 958 will establish a partnership with Green-Wood Cemetery for weekly history and nature explorations, designed in collaboration with community-based STEAM organization Sunset Spark. Founded by a longtime special education teacher and administrator, PS 958’s effort to include this experiential education program during the school day is partly inspired by the absence of DOE bus transport from after-school programs for students with special needs, resulting in lower participation levels in enrichment programming.


Brooklyn Urban Garden Charter School (BUGS): $10,000 for Schoolwide Meditation Program

Partnering with Mindful Schools, BUGS will reinstate a schoolwide meditation program that was paused during the pandemic, training teachers and staff for the in-house administration of the twice daily meditation practice in the 23/24 school year, as well as assisting in behavioral interventions.


Khalil Gibran International Academy: $10,000 for Creative Service Capstone Project

As a part of KGIA’s IB Diploma requirements, Financial Literacy students will complete a Creative Service capstone project of running a school store, including developing a business plan, doing market research, and managing the store’s day-to-day functions.


Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design: $25,000 for Generation Immigration Program

All seniors at WHSAD, a school where a significant amount of the student body is first-or second-generation immigrants, will participate in Generation Immigration, a storytelling unit led by the CUNY Creative Arts Team focused on immigration, identity, and community designed to normalize and celebrate the immigrant experience.


Young Women’s Leadership School of Brooklyn: $5,000 for New Attendance Incentive Initiative

Responding to a pandemic-related increase in absenteeism, YWLSB’s new attendance incentive initiative will offer monthly scheduled field trips and activities to students with a history of low attendance if they are able to keep their attendance up. Previous attendance programs haven’t been successful, but YWLSB has seen increased attendance on previous intermittent incentive days. The new initiative will offer a clear schedule of events for the year to get buy-in from students from the beginning of the year, including bowling, skating, and going to the movies.


753K Brooklyn School for Career Development: $25,000 for College Readiness Program

The Brooklyn School for Career Development serves students with disabilities ages 14-21 who are working towards a Regents or local diploma, many of whom will be the first in their families to graduate from high school. This year, BSCD will reorient their college readiness program, shifting focus from CUNY to SUNY schools and leading upstate six college visits for juniors and seniors on track to graduate. SUNY schools, which provide dorms and a more nurturing environment, will better serve students who need help securing housing when they leave high school –50% of BSCD students are in foster care and 10% live in homeless shelters.


West Brooklyn Community High School (WBCHS) & South Brooklyn Community High School (SBCHS): $20,000 Each for Workforce Development Internship Program

WBCHS & SBCHS will continue their internship program with the RETI Center for workforce development in green technology. Serving over-age, under-credited students who are often already working to help support their families, the industry certification that is incorporated into the internship program allows students to achieve better, higher paying jobs after they leave high school.


P368K Star Academy: $25,000 for Vocational Skills Development Program

Serving students with disabilities ages 14-21, Star Academy will expand its existing vocational skill development program by adding a school store, which will carry food and hygiene items as requested by the student body.


Brooklyn Transition Center: $10,000 for Transition Services

Serving students with disabilities ages 14-21, BTC will strengthen its transition services by building its administrative capacity to facilitate student eligibility for OPWDD(Office of People with Developmental Disabilities). This will allow more students to receive sponsored insurance as well as be connected to supported employment or various day habilitation centers (job opportunities, volunteer opportunities, and health services).


Science Skills Center High School: $20,000 for My Brother’s Keeper Program

SSCHS will expand its My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) program to meet the needs of its students –60% of whom are Black boys, a group that has struggled severely during the pandemic. 50 students (25% of juniors and seniors) will receive small-group and one-on-one mentorship focused on self-confidence, conflict resolution, and team building to support social-emotional growth, in addition to the college and career guidance already a part of the MBK curriculum.

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