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First Job Fair @ P.S. 59 The Dawn Best School: A Success!

Last week, P.S. 59 The Dawn Best School hosted a Job Fair, marking a significant moment in their commitment of empowering the Bed-Stuy community. In efforts of fostering career opportunities for Brooklyn families, P.S. 59 opened their doors to a variety of Career Vendors, offering on-the-spot interviews and potential employment prospects.

 

P.S. 59 welcomed excited families with the anticipation of meeting with representatives of different sectors and career backgrounds. Attendees of this job fair were eager to explore new job possibilities and learn about diverse professional aspirations. Among the highlights of the event were the success stories of two parents of Areté students who secured employment with State Security during the Job Fair!  

 

This first job fair was an amazing opportunity to bring the community together and foster an environment for networking. This event was the first of the series of monthly Job Fairs, each offering fresh opportunities for Brooklyn families to engage with potential employers. P.S. 59 plans on continuing their dedication to creating meaningful connections between families and employers in order to promote economic stability and social mobility. 

 

Thank you to all who attended and contributed to the success of the first Job Fair! 

 - 02/19/2024 - Anthony Ramirez Diaz
feed our needs logo 2023

“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!

 - 01/11/2024 - Anthony Ramirez Diaz
arete alumni feature - Amy Arizmendi

Arete Alumni Feature - Amairany (Amy) Arizmendi

Meet Amairany (Amy) Arizmendi - middle school alum of The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology, Class of 2012. 

 

She has become extremely involved with Arete taking on various roles and responsibilities, an indispensable team member and leader. She has had the roles of family advocate, registering people for the census, helping families register their children to Arete programming, coordinating events at different sites involved with Arete, ordering supplies, managing budgets, and more. Additionally, during the peak of the pandemic, Amy was involved with Arete’s mission of assisting different families during this difficult time. She helped with the distribution of groceries and provided families with access to laptops and gift cards to buy different necessities like toiletries, clothes, and household items. 

One main takeaway from her various roles throughout her time with Arete has been her mindfulness skills! She has learned to take things one day at a time and use breathing techniques when things get stressful and difficult to manage. This is especially important when dealing with important responsibilities and following through with the mission of serving underserved and vulnerable populations. Amy affirms that Arete has fostered an environment where she is constantly able to learn and grow. She has grown the ability to effectively communicate not only with her peers and coworkers but also with parents. She enjoys interacting with families and credits this growth and enthusiasm to Arete’s commitment to providing support to their employees. Amy continues to benefit from Arete as she is continuously being challenged and improving. She takes on more tasks and fulfills more deadlines which allows her to learn more and become more prepared for future events and jobs. 

 - 07/31/2023 - Anthony Ramirez Diaz
arete alumni feature - Mariyam Sumareh

Arete Alumni Feature - Mariyam Sumareh

Meet Mariyam Sumareh - LSFT Class of 2020 and a rising senior at New York University majoring Sports Management and minoring Public Policy and Management

Her involvement with Arete as an employee began back in 2020 as a senior at The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology forming part of the internship team. She was a tutor to three 8th grade students. Being a tutor provided her with connections she did not know she would have made. She connected with her tutees on a more personal level on top of providing them with educational support during the peak of the pandemic. She noticed that these tutor-tutee relationships helped her reflect on how she saw herself in the younger kids and made her realize that she could become a mentor to them. She made sure the students felt validated about their passions. She was not just a tutor but someone that students could lean on socially, emotionally, and academically. 

After being a tutor, Mariyam became a Youth Service Leadership Fellow where she conducted leadership initiatives for grades 6-12, helped with the adaptation of virtual learning and became a spokesperson to donors and guests. After this, she took on the role of Project Coordinator for Summer Bridge/Rising. During her 2021 summer role, she mainly did administrative work. Her other responsibilities involved outreach which included updating families about student progress. She also curated weekly vlogs for the summer rising program and communicated with program donors. She then got promoted to Program Coordinator for College and Career Access. Here, she oversaw high school student activities during afterschool programs and managed attendance for 400+ people. She supported weekly and monthly attendance reports for the senior leadership team. On top of that, she made phone calls and wrote letters to donors and also maintained a digital alumni database . Additionally, during her time in this role, she started up the Arete Alumni Council where they held monthly events, such as financial literacy, resume building, Feed our Needs events, and Alumni Day. 

Currently, Mariyam works as an Admin Operations Associate. She is in charge of various operational needs like keeping inventory on school supplies, ordering supplies and storing items in the office, and organizing electronic files (paystubs, alumni contracts, etc.). She ensures that students get stipends in a timely manner and administers the onboarding process of staff to ensure they get offer letters. Moreover, she serves as support for human resources responsibilities. This means that she tackles operational issues, creates guides on how to clock in and clock out, provides assistance on accessing paycom and timesheets, and produces basic employee manuals. Not only is she the go-to person for employee assistance, but she also helps the President of Arete, Sarah Benis Scheier-Dolberg, find prospective donors, have access to an alumni database, and keep alumni contact information organized! 

One thing that Mariyam is immensely grateful for is the ability to grow as an individual with the help of Arete. She recalled that when she first started working with Arete, she possessed a student mindset where her main goal was to just do what needed to be done; however, as she progressed throughout her various roles, she gained leadership skills as she took on more responsibilities. Through this, she has been able to tap into her leadership skills whether it be leading groups or leading behind the scenes. She is constantly pushed to do better and improve on her time management, organization, networking, leadership, and mindfulness skills. She is proud of being able to create a space where everyone is able to adapt and do what they have to do - something that Arete has enabled her to do easily!

A second thing that she values about Arete is Arete’s involvement in her life but also with everyone that is part of the organization. She became exposed to Social Emotional Learning that taught her that it is imperative to check in and make sure you and everyone around you is doing and feeling well. Having the opportunity to debrief and be mindful of these emotions allowed her and her colleagues to perform better within their roles. “Arete definitely cares about their staff!” exclaimed Mariyam as she explained that Arete asks their employees about their feelings and opinions on certain projects instead of just being told what to do. Being asked for personal input makes Mariyam feel welcomed and validated. As a former LSFT student and current Arete employee, she is able to provide a new and youthful perspective on certain events and makes her feel valued as a member of this organization. On top of that, Mariyam enjoys seeing that Arete organizes important events that are beneficial and dear to the communities they serve (Juneteenth, Feed Our Needs, hotline and family services, Eid celebrations, etc.). Also, the fact that Arete is expanding shows that they care about service and are constantly striving for more! One last thing Mariyam underscores is that although what she is studying is different to what she does within Arete, she is able to gain transferable skills that help support her career goals (youth engagement, consistency, empathy, being supported and being supportive). 

 - 07/11/2023 - Anthony Ramirez Diaz
2022 Wallach Scholarship Recipient - Sydney

Sydney Pierre-Saint: 2022 Academic Inspiration Wallach Scholarship Recipient

In memory of Edward Wallach, the 2022 Wallach Scholarship was announced in June 2022 to The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology Class of 2022. Edward Wallach was a huge contribution to the community at The Lab School and beyond! He motivated students in academics, community service, and athletics and for that reason, recipients of this scholarship would receive between $2-3,000 in three different categories:

  • Leading athlete -  a student who excels in team sports and proudly represents the 223 community.
  • Community builder - a student who creates meaningful friendships, serves the 223 community, and has a strong passion in doing good in the world.  
  • Academic inspiration - a student who excels in academics and journey inspires others to achieve their highest potential. 

On July 26, 2022, Sydney Pierre-Saint, the 2022 Lab School Salutatorian, became one of the three recipients of the Wallach Scholarship, specifically for the Academic Inspiration category. 

Initially, Sydney applied to the scholarship for the community builder and academic inspiration categories. Within the 223 community, she tried her very best to become involved and get to know those around her. As someone who was new to The Lab School as a high school freshman, it was somewhat difficult at first to find a sense of belonging as most people had already known each other from middle school and established their groups for some time now. Nonetheless, Sydney slowly began to participate in various activities that led her to build a sense of community with her peers and staff. On top of that, her involvement in the school and greater South Bronx community led her to build passions that motivated her to want to do good in the community that raised her. Her personal experiences allow her to have knowledge in different aspects of life which gives her leverage in knowing how to give back to her community. As for academic inspiration, Sydney recounts that growing up, she constantly doubted herself and truly struggled in everything academics. Back in elementary school, she saw that she did not take her academics seriously. Her lack of academic tenacity and overall focus on school-related activities led her to become left back in third grade. From then, she began to lose her pride. She internalized all the comments about her being “dumb” subsequently losing her confidence in her academic abilities. After this incident, she was motivated to not only prove to everyone that she was capable of being academically successful but to herself as well that she was in fact not dumb. She learned that she had to unlearn old habits and build positive ones. Upon prioritizing different things that truly mattered to her grades and her well-being, she began seeing change. This turn-around in academic tenacity and abilities began to make her believe she was just as capable as her peers in doing good in school and that sense of accomplishment gave her fuel to continue working hard. As she progressed through the school years, she realized that she came a long way in her efforts into school and academic passions. From once seeing herself as “dumb” and “stupid”, she ended up graduating as the Class of 2022 Salutatorian at The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology. 

A year later, Sydney, a rising sophomore at New York University, plans on studying Psychology and considers minoring in Creative Writing with interactions in academia and creating theories. Upon finishing first year of college at NYU London, one main lesson she learned is to be in the moment. Yes, it is good to have goals and aim for something; however, it is also good to be content in the moment, indulging in the present, and not compare yourself to others. She also recalls learning to adapt to new environments and make the best out of every opportunity presented to her, just like she did with studying abroad and applying to this scholarship. 

She is extremely grateful for the Wallach Scholarship as it granted the freedom of not having to worry as much about financial hardships when it came to her college education. Applying to this scholarship also gave her time to reflect on what she has accomplished so far and what she sees herself doing in the future. Moving forward, if ever presented with more scholarship applications, she will definitely apply and utilize every resource possible. These opportunities will only grant her the ability to continue pursuing her passions, continue learning and furthering her education, and continue to grow as an individual!

 - 07/11/2023 - Anthony Ramirez Diaz
ps 59 disney production

P.S. 59 Presents Disney's The Lion King Kids!

On June 6th and 7th, students at P.S. 59 William Floyd Elementary School welcomed the Brooklyn community for an amazing Disney experience: The Lion King!

 

Weeks prior to the show, students worked hard to put on an amazing Disney performance in the beginning of June. They eagerly rehearsed and constructed their costumes by hand! A fellow Arete staff member, Solange, was in charge of doing the students’ makeup for the performance. On top of that, students were also taken to see the Lion King Live on Broadway to learn more about theatrical performances. 

Thanks to the implementation of the new Industry Room at P.S. 59, students become motivated to indulge in the arts and participate in various arts-based programming that will ultimately strengthen academic performance. Through performances, assemblies, and the physical space offered in the Industry room, students are able to explore different interests, hobbies, and passions. One of the special projects as a result of these opportunities is the Lion King Kids - Disney Jr. Production. With this special production, students have been granted the opportunity to learn more about set design, stage production, acting and character development, and even have the chance to exhibit their own theatrical skills. Congratulations to all the students and staff who formed part of this production - what an amazing spectacle!

 - 07/06/2023 - Anthony Ramirez Diaz
Eid Celebration 2023

Eid Celebration 2023

Last month, we welcomed the Mott Haven community to join us and the local Muslim community at The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology for a celebratory Eid-al-Fitr event! Attendees engaged in various activities like playing dominoes, taking pictures, enjoying food and snacks, and ultimately spent valuable time with one another. Thank you to everyone who joined us for the Eid celebration!

 

 - 05/16/2023 - Anthony Ramirez Diaz
Niroga-Institute

Leaders of Dynamic Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a nonjudgmental sense of awareness that allows one to pay attention to purpose and being in the present moment. Mindfulness is not just meditation, reflection, concentration exercises, or a quick fix for stress. It is the nature of being conscious of personal sensations and feelings and attending to them. 

The Mindful Stress Buffering Account presented by Creswell and Lindsay (2014) proposes that mindfulness alters stress appraisals to reduce stress reactivity and strengthens stress coping mechanisms. Furthermore, they present that mindfulness can activate the SAM-axis (a stress-response system) in one of two ways: reducing the activation of the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response to stress) or increasing activity of the parasympathetic nervous system (network of nerves that relaxes the body after experiencing stress). This biological evidence communicated that mindfulness can help mitigate the effect stress has on human health. 

Moreover, applications of Mindfulness-Based Programming have observed increases in well-being, improved behavior regulation, and reduced stress and psychological symptoms. Stress and trauma can have direct (onset of diseases) and indirect (impair cognitive function and performance) effects. Implementing mindfulness practices can help reduce stress and support health. 

Arete President Sarah Benis Scheier-Dolberg plans to use a Niroga Dynamic Mindfulness Training to implement mindfulness practices within Arete to help not just students but staff and leaders too!

Why this training? 

The work from the Niroga Institute has developed from using their training in groups with students in Oakland. It was tailored for youth who are in serious distressing circumstances and focuses on addressing their trauma. Niroga specializes in an integrative approach that involves social emotional learning, social emotional teaching, and social emotional parenting. 

Materials from Niroga are not new to Arete as we have used their approach in the past when piloting and designing the SEL curriculum 2019. It started with training students and afterschool staff with Transformative Life Skills sessions with the help of Niroga. This work resembled a bottom-up design where the Arete SEL pilot team saw how students took the lead in mindfulness-based programming like deciding when they wanted to take the time to do breathing exercises. Four years since the SEL pilot, Sarah wants to layer in a top-down design where leaders within Arete receive training through Niroga’s Dynamic Mindfulness sessions. 

“The intent of this training is to give you more oxygen to survive with your work,” Sarah coaches the leadership team. She underscores the importance of providing her staff with the necessary tools to help and support their needs as human beings and educators. She intends for this training to help Arete's leaders deal with their trauma, whether it be vicarious trauma or acute trauma. This is a call for Arete’s leaders to know how to support themselves and find ways to address their stress. Down the line, they will be transferring the skills learned through Niroga to their work within Arete.

What do you hope your employees gain from this training? How will progress and learning be tracked? 

“I want them to feel comfortable breathing. I want them to feel comfortable creating a space for mindfulness.” Sarah hopes to see these mindful behaviors happening in all Arete meetings, classrooms, and across the organization's culture. The leadership group will finish the intensive training period by June and subsequently have working products that are manifested at the partnership schools

In terms of assessment, there is a plan to have our leaders working on designing a curriculum for this summer that implements what they have learned in their Niroga training. Engaging Arete's leaders in some form of design work will put their skills to the test. This is imperative for implementing their new learnings for the upcoming school year at all of Arete's four expansion sites.  Their learning will be observed, and they will be coached to integrate Niroga's dynamic mindfulness skills into their staff trainings and regular team meetings. From there, the dynamic mindfulness skills gained from this spring's trainings can serve as a model for future work. Niroga is well known on the West Coast but not in New York. Arete can serve as an example for others to see how powerful integrating Niroga's trainings can be within an organization and at community school sites.  

Why this group? Do you hope it’ll have a trickle down effect?

Sarah’s vision for this session was to have a pilot to start with an influential group. She states that this approach is partially in response to Arete's expansion as the organization is living through the question: “How do we want this culture to expand with the other boroughs?”

Arete is a relatively small organization with over a decade of experience at the The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology, which serves as a model for new partnerships. This training allows for a monthly leadership series to build a leadership cohort. Then, at each community school site, there will be a cohort that will be able to lead the school's dynamic mindfulness work. Sarah notes that these leaders have been through a lot by being an organization within a big city that serves marginalized students and families. Niroga gives Arete a way to power up its employees to help them lead and create a great culture to serve the community. After having gone through the training, she anticipates that these individuals are able to lead others in the work. The goal is to have leaders that are comfortable with leading dynamic mindfulness practices and learning how to self-regulate themselves as they engage their staff, students, and families. This is a beneficial way of providing support to the leaders of our organization by offering opportunities to properly address their stress and trauma to then suitably serve our communities. This work fully embraces the mission of seeing our employees, students, and families prosper! 

What did you notice within the organization that led to adopting this training?

Sarah encountered Niroga five years ago when attending a women's leadership conference in California. One of the Niroga staff members was leading a workshop where he had attendees participate in dynamic mindfulness practices while also learning about impacts of trauma on the work of education leaders. All of the attendees at the conference were working in urban settings that dealt with chronic stress, direct trauma, and vicarious trauma. Since the pandemic, everyone has experienced trauma and stress while also leading with complex issues of working within an urban community. 

With this in mind, she acknowledges that trauma is real and prevalent within Arete and wants to help address that with the help of Niroga! A benefit of using Niroga is that their practices are refined in urban settings which is helpful for Arete implementing mindful actions to help reduce the impact of trauma. One thing that Sarah finds crucial in the work Niroga does that will be beneficial for Arete is the focus on trauma as a somatic definition

“Trauma freezes within our body! I want to provide a sort of first aid for our educators and leaders. Post pandemic, it is clear to all of us that we’re fragile! We are still processing what has happened and figuring out how to effectively move forward.” She finds it vital for trauma not only to be addressed through thinking and processing, but also through movement. This is what Niroga brings to us: dynamic mindfulness - transformative behaviors that require mindful movement, breathing, and centering. Niroga is a call to action! It is a breath of fresh air, a time to pause and take care of yourself! As she puts it, it is a simple way to do some self regulation that can take as little as 15 minutes. It is feasible and asks her staff to partake in these helpful practices.

 - 04/13/2023 - Anthony Ramirez Diaz

Citizenship Legal Aid Partnership with CUNY

Arete Education staff and Board Director Raymond Sanchez joined the City University of New York Citizenship Now! initiative and Council Member Rafael Salamanca Jr. to provide legal support to 84 community members in the South Bronx to prepare citizenship applications. Thank you to our staff Gabriel Hernandez, Lizzette Cheatwood, Amy Arizmendi, Noe Carrillo and our Board Director Raymond Sanchez for leading the charge.

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Arete Alumni Feature - Stephanie Polanco Serrano

Meet Stephanie Polanco Serrano - a third year student at Lehman College studying Psychology!

Her journey with Arete started when she was a high school student at The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology where she had the brilliant idea to start up the Self Care Club! Stephanie recounts that starting up this club helped her emotionally because the focus of the club was to offer a space where one would take care of themselves through different artistic activities. This outlet allowed her and other participants to learn of various ways to practice self care! Professionally, she gained communication skills and learned how to take initiative when she had to propose the idea to Arete Executive Director at the time, Sarah Benis Scheier-Dolberg, in order to get the club up and running. She also mentions that she felt connected to Arete and our mission because she felt that her voice was heard and as a student she felt that her idea of starting up a club was validated and taken seriously. 

Stephanie also became a tutor as a high school student during the pandemic. Stephanie chose to become a tutor because she felt that helping students academically would not be challenging to her as she was in good academic standing. Another big factor in taking up this opportunity was being motivated by a former middle school teacher, Ed Martinez, who presented this opportunity and encouraged her to form part of the program. In the end, it worked well as she was able to solidify her teaching and time-management skills and gain different service skills. As Stephanie puts it, “this role helped me grow because I learned how to serve my community!”

Now, her role within Arete is Senior Program Coordinator. Stephanie oversees Arete's afterschool programs at their various sites, on top of many other responsibilities! Currently, she is located at P.S./I.S. 155 to help the program function and flourish. 

 

Stephanie is grateful for Arete because they foster an environment where she can develop professionally. They provide her with opportunities like participating in trainings and professional development sessions. Being part of those things has helped her realize what it takes to be a part of a successful working environment. She continues to benefit from Arete because she feels security in the role she currently has and underscores that within the organization, there is a sense of trust and unity amongst her coworkers! As a college student, she is also extremely thankful that Arete works around her school schedule and does not penalize her for being a student unlike other college students her age who do not have the same privilege.

 - 04/12/2023 - Anthony Ramirez Diaz

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