“Feed Our Needs”: The Inspiring Journey of Philanthropy with Areté Education

"Feed Our Needs" is an impactful initiative hosted by Areté Education that is dedicated to addressing the fundamental needs of individuals across underserved and vulnerable communities. With a passionate commitment to fostering positive change, Areté Education brings together a diverse range of programs under the "Feed Our Needs" campaign aimed at empowering low-income and predominantly Black and Brown populations. From food drives and etiquette luncheons to the provision of winter clothes and financial resources, "Feed Our Needs" strives to create a holistic approach to community well-being. Areté Education's innovative and inclusive programs empower Black- and Brown-owned businesses and provide essential resources to those in need. 

 

The journey of Feed our Needs began in 2020, initially rooted in the collaboration with IHS Markit, Barclays, and The Collective (consortium of Wall Street based Black Employee Resource Groups across the financial sector). When the annual gala, traditionally hosted by The Collective, was put on hold, they decided to channel their efforts into a meaningful cause. Areté Board President, McEvans Francois, and his peers were inspired by a CNN article that shed light on the struggles faced by Harlem restaurants, particularly those owned by people of color. That inspiration sparked conversations on pathways to support Black-owned businesses. Thanks to the vision of Areté Board members, Kholofelo Mothibi and Erica Sealey, the initiative evolved to focus on supporting both Black-and Latinx-owned establishments, as each population resides in the communities Areté serves. 

 

Barclays and IHS Markit saw the need and generously supported the Feed Our Needs mission. Areté created a website in order to raise awareness and broaden the fundraising efforts. The firms were able to raise $15k to support the Feed Our Needs programs in the first year. These funds were used for large food orders at Black- and Latinx-owned restaurants, and the purchased food was given to Areté families at community events serving those in need and most impacted by the pandemic. A notable contribution of $5,000 was directed towards La Morada, a Mexican restaurant located in the South Bronx well-known for supporting migrants in our communities. Families in the area reaped the benefits, marking the beginning of a broader mission.

 

Furthering Areté Education’s mission and vision, the Feed Our Needs Campaign began to scout out restaurants in underserved communities of South Bronx, Harlem, and Brooklyn. In 2021, for Juneteenth, Feed Our Needs sponsored food truck meals, increasing access to food directly to the communities in need. Then, in 2021, Areté incorporated financial literacy efforts in collaboration with Carver Bank, providing pamphlets and valuable resources to the community. Further expanding the mission, in January 2023, an event in Brooklyn served as an example of the program's adaptability. Recognizing the changing demographics due to an increased volume of migrants from South America and the Caribbean, Areté Education tailored the efforts of Feed Our Needs to meet the specific needs of these communities. Warm meals, sourced from local Black- and Brown- owned businesses,  and duffel bags containing winter accessories, like mittens, were distributed to families. 

 

Over the past year, Areté has hosted various events assisting families across Bed-Stuy, Mott Haven, and Washington Heights as part of the Feed Our Needs Initiative. 

  • Running from January to June, students from P.S. 59 are invited to go out to eat at a local restaurant and participate in an etiquette class. These etiquette luncheons help foster an environment where students are stimulated by the process of learning new skills while also getting the chance to explore a new restaurant, owned by Black or Latinx individuals in the local community. 

 

  • On November 18, a Thanksgiving Feed our Needs event was hosted at The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology from 10-12 pm where 90 families received hot meals and one bag full of quintessential ingredients and groceries to prepare a homemadeThanksgiving dinner. 

 

  • On November 21, a Family Thanksgiving Dinner was hosted at P.S. 59 The Dawn Best School. The event ran from 4-5:30 pm and more than 60 people attended. Students and families gathered together to enjoy food and music and  spend quality time with each other. Five $50 Food Bazaar gift cards were raffled at this event. 

 

  • On December 16, a Family Resource Fair was hosted at the High School for Media and Communications where approximately $1400 was spent to support 90 families in Washington Heights.

 

Now more than ever, the Feed Our Needs program is needed to address the ongoing migrant crisis, food insecurity, and poverty rates in our communities. As we head into 2024, the focus of Feed Our Needs remains dedicated to meeting the evolving needs of Areté’s underserved communities. This January, there is an upcoming MLK Day event to be hosted in Brooklyn the week of January 15th. Join the movement and be part of this transformative journey where we’ll support our families in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood! Contact Sam Alexander (sam@areteeducation.org) to sign up as a volunteer. 

 

Through strategic partnerships, outreach, and community engagement, Areté Education is actively working towards building a stronger, more resilient community through the Feed Our Needs initiative!

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