Sierra’s Service Reflection

Over the summer, I volunteered at my old preschool, Hanson Place Child Development Center, in Downtown Brooklyn for 2 months over the summer. While I was there, I took care of 1-2 year old kids and helped them read, play, and learn. Besides working with the kids, I also helped the teachers feed the kids, walk them, take care of them, etc. I believe this helps the community because it teaches young minds little things that will help them later in life, and by starting them out at a young age they will be more prepared in later years of school. This experience improved me greatly, for It helped me understand the basics of taking care of/ helping children with their learning and daily life, and it also helped me learn what it is like to be in a teachers shoes, teaching children to read, play with other kids, and many other things. Compared to other people’s volunteer work, this helped little children learn what many of us learned when we were their age, and it was like passing on the torch to the next generation of kids. By working with those kids and spreading the knowledge I know, and some of the knowledge that I learned when I use to go to school their, I felt like I was giving back to my community and my old teachers who gave so much to me. Overall I had a great experience and would love to do it again next year.


Navid’s Service Reflection


For our Youth and Philanthropy Initiative (YPI) project, our group decided to research, visit, and make a presentation for Part of the Solution (POTS) – a non-profit based in the Bronx that provides many services for those who can’t afford them, primarily offering food. The issue our group decided to tackle was hunger in New York City. Before this project, the word “hunger” would maybe get me to picture children and adults without food in third world countries – never in the heart of urbanization itself, all around me. However as we researched this issue further, through databases, books, news articles, and more, we found shocking numbers, up to 2 in 5 children who live in poverty and don’t get enough to eat everyday.  Thus, our group decided to research different non-profits dealing with these issues. Of the many we found, we decided to settle on Part of the Solution.


POTS is a large organization, and has provided far over half a million nutritious meals from their food pantry to those who need it, meals with fresh produce. During our research, we reached out to POTS and asked for an interview with a staff member. At the visit, we met with Jack Marth – the Director of Programs at the facility. While walking around, there were many things we saw. Other than the food pantry, the organization offers a community dining room, where those without a home or stable shelter can find a space to enjoy a meal and socialize with others, a law clinic, a postal service, a shower room, and more. Jack Marth explained to us many of the struggles that residents in the Bronx, and citywide, face, including restrictions from the government, unfair opportunities, and one of the biggest issues we had researched – the hunger cycle. Overall, this project was incredibly eye-opening in showing me how wide scale this issue is in my own neighborhood, not only overseas.

Alex’s YPI Reflection


PlaygroundFor the 9th grade YPI service project, my team chose inaccessibility to early education as our social issue, and the organization that we represented was the Bloomingdale Family Program, whose mission is “to serve preschool children from low-income families in upper Manhattan.”

At first, inaccessibility to early education might not seem as important of a social issue as those that have a more immediate effect on people, such as hunger or homelessness. Before the project, I had never really thought about how lucky I am to have received a good education starting at a young age. However, over the course of the project I learned the impacts a quality early education can have on people’s lives. It can allow children to get into a good high school, a good college, and, when they are older, a good job. All children, regardless of where they are born, should have an equal chance in the world.

FeelingsWhile researching, however, we found that this is not the case in New York City. Poorer neighborhoods tend to have worse schools, meaning that a child’s future can be determined simply by where they live. We decided that this should not be the case, and that is why we wanted to represent an organization that helps with this social issue.

One of the most challenging parts of the project was organization: making sure that everyone in our group helped out and that everything got done by the deadlines. Some of the work needed to be done outside of History, so it was important for us to figure out a way to divide up the work.

BlocksOther challenges were researching our issue, picking out important information, and making an effective website and presentation. In order to make a convincing presentation and website, I learned that you need to have the perfect balance between not having too much text, which can lose people’s attention, and still getting all of your points across. I think that our team did a good job of accomplishing this, especially with the presentation, and I developed research and prioritization skills along the way.

Will’s YPI Reflection


For my group’s YPI project, we chose to research the Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program which works to tackle the issue of teenage pregnancy.  This project was initially challenging for my group which originally had difficulty deciding on a social issue.  I think my group did struggle at first with working together, but by the end of the project, we had made some large improvements.  Even though those improvements were great, I think that our groups team work might have been the thing that prevented us from even making it to the round of 8 on service day.

I learned quite a bit about teen pregnancy from doing this project.  I personally had previously never met a teen mother,  and I had no idea how rampant this issue was and continues to be throughout New York City and all of America.  The neighborhoods that teen pregnancy rates are high in are not those that I usually visit, so when I saw some statistics, I was rather surprised.  I enjoyed interviewing Dr. Carrera for my site visit, because he was very polite to us and never once made us feel as though we were wasting his time.  I admire that his organization does not merely focus on sex education, but also helps children living in poverty have a better life.  They do this by partnering with kids either in school or out of school and providing them with tutors, medical care, eye glasses(if necessary), dental care, and more.  Hopefully Dr. Carrera and I will stay in touch and remain involved in this important social issue.

Miraya’s YPI Reflection

I participated in the ninth grade YPI project. I was apart of a group with four of my friends and we decided to choose a non-profit relating to teen pregnancy. The most challenging part of the project was deciding on what social issue to choose. We all favored all equally important social issues and did not want to give up on the idea of getting a specific non-profit five thousand dollars. In the end I think we made the right decision, although we did not get to compete in the final round of the competition.

I never really understood how important the issue of teen pregnancy is in New York City. The south is the main target of publicity for teen pregnancy so it just doesn’t seem like something that needs attention, but in reality it does. So many teen girls here still get pregnant. Although the number of teen pregnancies in New York has decreased, there’s still no excuse to try and work and continue making that number smaller and smaller. Dr. Michael Carrera, founder of the Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program, told us just that when we spoke with him about his non-profit.

The Carrera Program is amazing. They help teens from all over New York get sex education as well as helping insure that they go to college and have successful lives. Their main goal is to prevent teen pregnancy and they do this by helping the teens do well in high school and helping their parents be active in their children’s lives as well. Although we didn’t win the grant, I know that we’ve raised awareness of an amazing non-profit which is still amazing.


The Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program is apart of The Children’s Aid Society whose Logo is above.

Alex’s Experience with the Bloomingdale Family Program


Over the past few months, I and the rest of the 9th grade have been working on a service learning project in History funded by the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative, an organization which donates over one million dollars to nonprofit organizations every year. The grade was split into teams of four to six students, and each team chose a social issue and an organization to represent. After the finalists presented on Service Day, the winning team received a $5,000 grant from YPI to give to their organization. Although my team did not win, I still learned a lot about my social issue and how it affects the NYC community.

PlaygroundMy team chose inaccessibility to early education as our social issue, and our organization was the Bloomingdale Family Program, whose mission is “to serve preschool children from low-income families in upper Manhattan.” We visited the school and got the chance to speak with José Velilla, Executive Director, and Marilyn Barnwell, Education Director, who told us about the school’s values. They believe that early education can really give poor children a chance to break out of the poverty cycle, and that it opens up a lifelong curiosity for learning.

PhotosOne aspect of our issue that really struck me was that in many cases, access to quality early education in New York City can be determined simply by where you live. If you live in a poor neighborhood, you do not have as good of a chance to get a good education and be successful in life. Instead, you will stay in poverty, and your children will continue to live in poverty, and their children will stay in poverty. It is a never-ending cycle. Before the project, early education did not seem as important as some other social issues, such as hunger or homelessness, that have a more immediate effect on people; however, the Bloomingdale Family and the YPI project made me realize the importance a quality early education can have on people’s lives.

Richard Omar’s Nepal Reflection


A picture with my friend Nick and our Host Family


Having fun


My Host Sister, Sumita, teaching Nick and I to do hand laundry


        To say that the trip to Nepal was life-changing, goal-affirming, or unforgettable might be saccharine. It would also be true. Before going on this trip, I am ashamed to say that I had really only looked at countries like Nepal as third world countries; underdeveloped and poor. All that has changed. Now I have memories of impressive mountain peaks that reveal different levels of beauty from whichever view you may choose to observe, of endless green fields, and the wonder of seeing the red sun rise in the early morning. Yet, the interactions with the people were what I most enjoyed on this trip, especially with my host family.

In the beginning, interacting with my host family proved to be an awkward experience. After my host mother brought me to the family, Nick (who was also living with the family) and I actually sat in the chairs the family had provided for us and stared at our family for almost twenty minutes. Obviously, Nick and I wanted to talk to our family members, but because we didn’t know any Tharu, we had no idea what to say to our host family and our host family could not say anything to us. Because of this, our host family would often burst into laughter while Nick and I nervously grinned. To break the tension I presented my host family with some American gifts, notebooks to be exact, that I had brought for the children. It would prove to offer only a brief respite from the silence but, thankfully, Nick had brought Jenga as a gift for the family. It was amazing how easily such a simple game helped to bridge the linguistic and cultural gaps between us and our host family. With Jenga there was no language barrier. When teaching the rules of the game, speech was not needed, only a simple demonstration. We barely talked as we played, just laughed, cheered, groaned, and we were still more emotionally expressive than we could have been if we could have used words to talk to each other. Eventually, Nick and I couldn’t always rely on Jenga for communication with our families. Most of the time we would just sit in silence with our families and talk with each other in our language while our host family would do the same. Samita, our host sister, was always trying hard to get Nick, me, and the family to interact when these moments of silence happened. She would encourage us to teach them Go Fish and tic-tac-toe, and at one point she and our other host sisters taught us how to play this bizarre game where the players just pull each others ears. Nick and I had no idea what was going on in that game, but I don’t think either of us had ever convulsed with as much confused laughter as we did then.

On this trip laughter, as well as Jenga, was helpful in relieving the tension that comes from cultural differences. Sometimes neighbors would come over to play Go Fish and one of them once asked me  “Do you have any fours”, except he had pronounced fours like “Porsches”.  This led to a hilarious misunderstanding as I thought he was asking me If I had a car. Our host family had a good-natured laugh at that, and Nick and I joined in after them to avoid insulting anyone. Similarly, when Nick and I mangled Tharu words, our host family would laugh and so would we. We didn’t mind because laughter was needed so all of us wouldn’t take this merging of cultures as something frightening where every mistake made would be devastating, but just a fun experience.

William’s Service Relfection

William Penzer

Jamie Lieberman

History 9


YPI Service Learning

            For my YPI service-learning project I visited the GO Project.  My group members and I found common social values in competence, family, and personal growth, and we decided that youth education was one of the closest embodiments of those values.  The GO Project works with families in downtown New York to help struggling elementary and middle school students keep up with the curriculum and supplement their learning if their schools are under resourced and unable to provide students with the tools that they need to succeed in high school and beyond.  When I began working with the GO Project, I went into the project with the mindset that while these students were under resourced, the reason that they would be going to the GO project was that they were in some was “slow” meaning that they would either have a learning disability or that they would just be incredibly slow learners.  However, after visiting the GO Project and seeing the third grade students testing and taking part in learning activities, I realized that they were really just normal students who were in no was mentally disabled and in no way less intelligent.  They tested just like normal students, asked questions just like normal students, and occasionally didn’t pay attention just like normal students.

In order to continue working with the GO Project I would be happy to continue volunteering with them over the weekends for the Saturday Program.  Besides volunteering however, one of the most important things that can be done to help the GO Project is to raise awareness for the social issue that they are trying to combat.  Too many students in NYC are underprivileged and aren’t given the opportunity to succeed and strive academically, even though they may be very intelligent.  YPI was a great outlet for letting people know about various social issues in New York, but YPI does not mark the end of raising awareness or helping our non-profit organizations.  I hope to continue my work with the GO project throughout high school and to provide students with the resources, confidence, and skills that they need to succeed throughout the remainder of their academic career.

Ack: None

Citation: None

Nicolette Schneiderman’s YPI Experience

Nicolette Schneiderman

May 8, 2014


I had the pleasure of working with an organization that deals with education. The GO Project works with struggling elementary and middle school students from the downtown New York City area. They specifically target students who are in trouble of failing that have been pointed out by the staff of the schools they work with. The GO Project is affiliated with a few different schools (such as Friends Seminary and Grace Church) that allow The GO Project to use their school space to tutor the students coming for help.

Working with The GO Project was a very interesting and somewhat surprising experience. During my time working with a class of fourth graders, I found myself surprised with how they acted and functioned. They all enjoyed working with their teachers and classmates and seemed to be very close to one another. While speaking to the students, I heard many different kinds of stories and feelings. The subjects ranged from art to bullying, and it struck me that these kids were so surprisingly normal. Even though they were in so much academic trouble and seemed to have so many problems on their plates, these children were no different than any other kid I had come across. They loved having fun and playing pranks and being accepted. They all wanted to get better in school and they all trusted that The GO Project would help them. To me, the Go Project struck me as not only allowing kids the chance of a better education, but also as a place of hope and encouraged dreams. I am extremely grateful that I was given the chance to work with such a wonderful organization, and I wish to continue helping these students fulfill their life goals.

Tiki Wojcik’s YPI Service Reflection

Tiki Wojcik


The non-profit organization my group chose for our YPI presentation was Housing Works. We felt that HIV/AIDS was a very important social issue in New York City, and Housing Works was the perfect non-profit. Housing Works provides services and support for those with HIV. Charles King founded Housing Works to raise awareness, and get rid of stigma of having HIV. At first, I did not know much about HIV in general, and to be honest it had never personally affected any I knew, so I never really had to give it much thought.

Coordinating our visit was a hard task and our busy schedules did not work with the busy schedules of those at Housing Works. I definitely learned about communication in terms of being respectful and patient before and during our visit. I found a rewarding part of the project was learning more about HIV and also giving hope to these people that young kids, like ourselves, want to take action in addressing HIV. It was a challenge to create the right questions to ask the people we were interviewing, and then incorporate their answers into our presentation. We actually got to interview someone who had been affected by HIV and was helped by Housing Works. I learned that it is possible for someone with HIV to be virally suppressed, making it very hard to transmit the disease. Also, I learned that HIV can only be transmitted through bodily fluids, not by hugging someone or sitting on a toilet seat that someone with HIV had sat on, common misconceptions. Although we didn’t win the $5,000 grant, I’m going to try to raise awareness and silence the stigma of HIV. Researching and visiting Housing Works was an amazing experience that really opened my eyes to the reality of HIV.