A student receives a unique college scholarship
Qilin with Ria Roberts and MC Assistant Principal for Math & Science, Mark Testa
A posse can be a group of friends that band together to support each other. That’s the idea behind the Posse Foundation’s mission to provide scholarships to deserving public high school students to attend college in a supportive cohort. Posse Scholars are nominated by a teacher or counselor, and after a rigorous interview process, are awarded a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to a Posse partner college. At least one CDI student has received a Posse Scholarship each year for the past seven years. “For a school like ours with students who face so many challenges and who are almost always the first in their family to consider college, it’s a great testament to the difference CDI’s college office makes,” says MC Principal, Michael Toise. Qilin Liang, this year’s MC recipient, is one of 560 students nationwide to receive the scholarship out of 14,000 nominated. “I totally froze at the first interview. I was so intimidated by all the people using lots of SAT vocabulary,” says Qilin. He will be attending Brandies University in the fall with nine other Posse Scholars.
“Coming here from China two years ago, I had to start all over again, and in a new language,” says Quilin. “At MC, Mr. Testa would let me ask him tons of questions after class about biology. I like to uncover mysteries and discover exactly how things work. I plan on studying biology in college.” Qilin became a peer tutor helping other students with science, and he received tutoring himself from CDI volunteers. “Mr. Ward taught me how to read poetry. I loved it.” Ria Roberts, MC class of 2006 and also a Posse Scholar who attended Brandeis, is now a medical student at George Washington University. Ria and Qilin got together recently with their mentor, Mark Testa. “It was inspirational to meet Ria and to see how well she’s done,” Quilin says.
Read about Ria’s story here.
Momadou Sondo explains his science project to Deputy Under Secretary for Education, Georgia Yuan
Georgia Yuan, US Deputy Under Secretary for Education and other local and state education officials celebrated MC and CDI on October 18. The event was part of the Afterschool Alliance’s national Lights on Afterschool project, a private-public partnership which promotes accessible and affordable programs after the school day ends. MC students shared their science projects and officials observed night classes and toured the school. In a follow up email, Ms. Yuan’s project director reported: “Georgia was absolutely thrilled with the event, saying it was one of the best she’s attended during her time at ED.” More photos of Ms. Yuan’s visit with students here.
Arlae Castellanos sets up a student-made solar charging station for storm victims in the Rockaways
Our thoughts are with our friends and supporters who were affected by Sandy. CDI and our three partner schools lost power during the week of the storm and had to close our doors. We’re happy to be back now and working once again to support our students, especially those directly affected by the storm. The three schools have reached out to all their students to see how they and their families are doing and what their needs are. It looks as if students, staff and faculty have made it through the storm without too much significant loss and we will continue to reach out to students in the weeks to follow.
In the aftermath of Sandy many New Yorkers pitched in to help out. Arlae Castellanos, Program Associate for CDI’s Green Track program and David Gibbs, an engineer at CDI’s internship partner Solar 1, set up a charging station in the Rockaways powered by student-made solar panels. An AP photographer captured the moment. Check out the photos here and here.
Left to Right: Robert Gentile HPHS Principal, John J. Mancuso, Jr., Executive Director of CDI, Michael Toise MC Principal, Alan Cheng CAS Principal
CDI has launched a partnership with City-As-School (CAS) to complete the dynamic three-school network that also includes The High School for Health Professions and Human Services (HPHS) and Manhattan Comprehensive Night & Day High School (MC). MC is CDI’s founding school partner and has been the incubator for our highly effective academic and social services model since 1995. CDI serves as the nonprofit service provider, facilitator and convener of the Network, which now benefits 3,300 students annually, an impressive leap from 1,000 students in 2010. The Network is designed to create new and expanded opportunities for students – all with a sharp view toward leveling the playing field for disengaged youth to pursue paths to further education, employment and full and meaningful adult lives.
Public high schools simply don’t have the budgets to do what it takes to fully support disadvantaged students. CDI and MC have spent 17 years developing a measurably effective, on-site model that brings intensive, academic and social support services to students up to and beyond high school graduation. By providing individual assessment and counseling, intensive tutoring, college and career advisement, legal, medical, case management and post-graduation support, CDI helps students achieve graduation rates that surpass most other NYC public high schools. And, students who receive CDI services stay in college and in jobs at a much higher rate.
Connecting Students to the Future
The Network draws upon each school’s shared and unique strengths and resources. MC has intensive, on- and off-site social services, a flexible day, night and weekend schedule, and serves a significant first-generation immigrant population. CAS, which celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2012 as one of NYC’s foremost alternative high schools, offers innovative experiential learning approaches supported by more than 400 internship hosts. MC and CAS both teach overage students who have struggled to graduate in traditional public schools. HPHS is a 9-12th grade high school with strong ties to professionals and training in the fastest growing labor market on the East Coast – health and human services.
“When we help young men and women discover what excites and energizes them and connect them to their futures, they stay engaged in school and start to see the payoff to all the hard work they’re asked to do.” –John Mancuso, CDI Executive Director.
Michael Toise, MC Principal adds, “We see college and workplace as two sides of the coin. Some students go straight to college; others to work. We find that students often cross over: some work for a year and then go to college, or leave college for a semester to save up some money. What CDI does so well is to stay connected to each student and help them persevere on whichever path they choose – and now, we’ll do that network-wide.”
The common ground among the three high schools is a student population at high risk of dropping out because of cross-generational urban poverty that limits their lives and hopes for the future. The result for young people is often serious academic underachievement compounded by the lack of training and employment opportunities. CDI’s Board of Directors and Advisors, and the schools themselves, are financially vested in the Network’s ability to increase graduation rates and college retention rates among students in a school district that has the highest dropout rate in the country. Major funding is coming from NYC’s most respected foundations including Robin Hood Foundation, The Tiger, Clark and Pinkerton Foundations, as well as individual donors from across the city.
Pathways to College & Career
“Right now, the unemployment rate for those without a high school diploma is 40% higher than the rate for graduates. But even those with a diploma face a 22.5% unemployment rate,” says Mancuso. “The economy has changed, permanently. We’ve been helping students graduate from high school for nearly 20 years, but that’s no longer enough. We need to give students the best chance at success by helping them plan a realistic future and giving them practical tools and support in the challenging one to two years after high school.”
“A good high school experience is wonderful, but it means little if students are not prepared for what happens afterward. The reality is that, as a public school, we simply do not have the staff, time, or financial resources to be able to support students in this way. With CDI’s support and the backing of the network, we will be able to work towards improving the likelihood of success for all of our students in high school and beyond.” –Allan Cheng, CAS Principal.
The CDI Network is redefining the notion of post-high school graduation success to include defined pathways to both college and careers. For the college-bound, the Network will provides students and their families with the help they need to shop for, select and afford the best possible college. For those students heading to work immediately following graduation, the CDI Network offers preparation through internships and training courses, and job referrals and mentoring.
“We are developing partnerships that offer career training options, such as IT, technical education, environmental sustainability and nursing with the potential to lead to satisfying careers with a decent wage,” says Robert Gentile, principal of HPHS.
“By pooling the resources that each of the three schools have developed, we are creating a coordinated wealth of opportunities for students,” says Mancuso. “It’s the beginning of a fantastically exciting new chapter.”
Andy Wang, MC alum and CDI's newest Board member
The entire Manhattan Comprehensive and CDI community is delighted to welcome MC alumnus, Andrew Wang, class of 1999, to CDI’s Board of Directors. Andy spoke no English when he came to New York from China at the age of 18. “My family had expectations for me-to work hard and eventually open a restaurant, and that was my goal,” says Andy. “But MC changed my perspective-I met people here who inspired me, including my wife, Bing. I realized that I could go to college and change the course of my life.”
Andy attended Hamilton College on a full scholarship where he majored in Economics. “Being resourceful was something I learned from CDI. When I got to Hamilton I realized that I still needed a lot of help. So I found some tutors, three of them!” He went on to work at GE as an Asset Manager, and is now a Finance Manager at American Express. “Over the years I’ve kept in touch with teachers and classmates and visited often. I owe everything to MC and CDI. I always wanted to give something back so in 2010 I joined CDI’s Development Committee. Now I’ve had the honor of being asked to join the Board of Directors. I see myself as an example of what MC-CDI can do. As a Board member, I want to make sure that other students have the chance to benefit in the same way I did.”