“The Difference that City Year is Making is Extraordinary”

Travis Holloway speaks to the impact that City Year corps members are having on the students of New York City’s public schools.

Last night, we celebrated our 9th Annual Ripples of Hope Dinner, honoring Maurice R. “Hank” Greenberg and The Starr Foundation. Those in attendance experienced an energetic and inspiring night with more than 450 of New York’s corporate, civic, and philanthropic leaders, our 255 corps members, and for the first time, several of the students that we work with every day.

Itai Dinour, Executive Director of City Year New York challenged the audience to take full advantage of the opportunity to get to know and learn from the many young people in Red Jackets seated around the room, “every one of our corps members has their unique story and you will leave each conversation with them enriched, inspired, and reminded of the important work we have ahead of us.” That important work came to life as our corps speaker Travis Holloway shared his story and some of the the academic successes that the students at Newtown High School have had this year.

“I provide my students with what they need to succeed—a push. They need is to be encouraged and challenged to do their very best. Anna-Maria is in a special education math class with 34 other students. She was one of the lowest performing students. I started spending time with her. She needed to be pushed and that what I did every day and on her last report card she took her 40’s and 50’s and improved to an 85% – the third highest grade in the class. Like me and many other students, in addition to academic support all she needed was a push—a push to be confident and a push to be independent. And she needed someone to believe in her.  I don’t just want my students to be successful in class – I want them to be successful in life and that starts with entering the 10th grade on track to graduate.” -Travis Holloway, Corps Member from the Microsoft Diplomas Now Team serving at Newtown High School

The relationships between our corps members and our students is at the core of what makes City Year unique and allows us to have an impact on the students we serve. We saw these relationships in action as our students took the stage.

Students from JHS 13 led our corps and the audience in PT and shared what working with City Year has meant to them.

“I like City Year because they help me stay out of trouble. They teach me how to be a leader and to not be afraid.” Arianna Dingle, 11 year old student at JHS 13 in East Harlem

“City Year helps the world; they try to change it for the better. City Year got me to an 80% and now I’m on the honor roll!” –Adrian Morfa, 12 years old student at JHS 13 in East Harlem

“Going to Newtown has been challenging. There are so many distractions and negative influences. It is very easy for your grades to get off track. There are too many kids in our class for my teacher to spend one on one time with me when I am falling behind. This is where [City Year] comes in. [City Year] is in my classroom and is able to answer my questions. When I don’t understand the material we meet during lunch so I can catch up. If I didn’t have City Year I think things would have been a lot different for me. They have always helped me in class, explaining the work in a different way, and motivated me to learn.” –Malissa Lewis, 14 years old student at Newtown High School

Honored at this year’s Ripples of Hope was Maurice R. “Hank” Greenberg and The Starr Foundation who was one of our founding partners and over the last nine years has become our largest private sector investor. “The Starr Foundation got behind City Year New York early and has stayed with us,” said Michael Brown, CEO and Co-founder of City Year Inc., when he joined The Starr Foundation for a school visit last month. “It has allowed [City Year New York] to really demonstrate what young adults in service can do in high poverty schools. I would like to thank The Starr Foundation for believing in the concept of National Service and calling on young American’s to act on their idealism and to give everything they have to help student succeed.”

Florence Davis, President of The Starr Foundation on stage with corps members before her remarks.

“The notion of public service, of civic commitment, is a powerful democratic ideal. Put into practice it forms better citizens, individually and demonstrates the value of team work, cooperation, and collaboration which benefits us all collectively. This is why City Year has been one of our long time grantees. We are very pleased to have been able to support City Year. We love seeing the Red Jackets on the streets of New York and in the schools. And we wish you every success!” -Florence Davis, President, The Starr Foundation

Closing out our event was Dr. John King, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Education.

“What we’re doing is not enough.  Imagine what it is to be a freshman in high school and look around and know that half of the students won’t be there at graduation. There are countless young people across the country who if not for their relationship with a City Year Corps Member wouldn’t have graduated from high school, wouldn’t have made it to college, wouldn’t be in a position to contribute. And so the difference that City Year is making is extraordinary.” -Dr. John King, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Education

We would like to thank everyone who attended and supported City Year New York last night. It is nights like this that remind us of how fortunate we are to have a community of champions who are supporting our work helping us get students on track to high school graduation.

Please CLICK HERE to see more photos.

Photos By David Andrako

Check out the #RipplesofHope on Storify