CDI is pleased to announce that Michael Roberts will be joining CDI as an Assistant Executive Director on September 3. Michael will direct all of CDI’s programming and staff at HPHS and CAS, lead the development and implementation of post-secondary program models and play a major role in deepening communication and collaboration among network partners. Michael comes to us with more than 22 years of nonprofit management and program experience. The common thread woven through Michael’s entire career is a deep commitment to helping youth find opportunities to express their distinctive “voice,” and develop the skills needed to articulate it.
Before coming to CDI, Michael was the Assistant Division Director for City and Country Branches at The Children’s Aid Society for 11 years where he developed educational, college and career, workforce development, clinical and substance abuse prevention services for young adults across the city. In this role he partnered with the DOE, Students in Temporary Housing, The United Way and several foundations to create innovative programming to help at-risk youth in poverty to become self-sufficient leaders in their homes and communities. Prior to that, he served as Director of Youth Development Services at Children’s Aid for five years.
Michael began his career at Safe Horizons where he was Director of Training and Youth Development. He also directed East New York United for Safety, a multi-faceted research-based project funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This five-year evaluation project examined a variety of interventions to reduce violence in one of the most violent communities in New York City. The evaluation led to a reduction of violence in the community, and was a model for collaboration for many programs nationwide.
In 2010 Michael received the Hero Award given by Madison Square Garden and the Garden of Dreams Foundation recognizing leaders who make a significant impact on the lives of children in crisis in New York City. He has appeared as an expert on youth issues on Good Day New York and has presented at conferences across the United States. Michael received his Master of Social Work from Hunter College, School of Social Work.
It’s the busiest summer school ever at MC thanks to the addition of students from City-As-School. “It’s great to be able to get credits here at MC,” said CAS student Elijah Hickson on his way to gym class. “I’m also taking economics and earth science so I can graduate in January. I’ve always wanted to be a video game designer, so I’m planning on working after graduation to save up money for college.”
A combined 700 students from the two schools are taking summer classes together for the first time at MC while CAS is undergoing renovations. “It’s been very interesting to have students from two different schools in class together, sharing their different backgrounds and perspectives,” says MC Principal Michael Toise.
Some students are taking summer classes in order to graduate earlier while others are retaking classes they did not pass or taking extra classes to prepare for Regents exams. Students from both schools are also participating in several internships offered by CAS at locations including the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the Armory Cat and Dog Hospital, the summer camp at P.S. 30 and at Mixed-Up Mosaics, a design store.
“With about 100 summer students, we usually offer 5 classes during the summer session,” says CAS Principal Alan Cheng. Because of MC’s larger student population, they can offer a much larger scope of classes. “Our students can choose from 77 classes at MC. That means they can earn credits faster, and some will even be able to graduate earlier.”
549 CDI network students walked across three different stages last week to receive their high school diplomas! The graduating classes of 2013 at MC, HPHS and CAS celebrated their achievements at inspiring commencement ceremonies across the city. At the historic Apollo Theater, Tremayne Richard sat in his cap and gown waiting for the ceremony to start. He came to HPHS as a Junior because he was interested in the health fields. “I want to study radiology in college because several of my family members have been affected by cancer,” he said. “Alexis and the CDI college advisors helped me pick LaGuardia because it’s one of the top community colleges that offers a Radiology major.” The commencement address was given by CDI Board of Advisors Chair, Kevin Walker, who, like many of the graduates, was raised by an extended family where money was tight. “For many here today, you’ve accomplished what you thought you couldn’t do.” Wary of wrath of the English teachers in the audience, he urged students to “do things good and do good things.”
Downtown at FIT, students faculty, friends and family gathered in the auditorium to celebrate the CAS graduating class. As her classmates put on their gowns backstage before the ceremony, Aziza Akhmatova play a grand piano. “I transferred to CAS because I was having a rough time at my old school,” she said between notes. “CAS was the greatest experience. It really prepares you for life. Jon and Jay at the CDI College Office helped me through the whole college process and I got into my first choice school, Brooklyn College. I want to double major in Biology and English and minor in Music. I also want to study abroad in France. I’m really excited.” The commencement speech was given by Ethan Hunt, CAS ’79, who today is the owner of Lucky Strike Bowling in Midtown. His message to students was: “Monday mornings. If you find something you are passionate about, then Monday mornings are pretty great.”
Luis Rivas was among the 137 graduates who sat in the packed auditorium at the MC commencement. Luis transferred to MC after dropping out of high school when his father had a stoke and became handicapped. “After two years of working at McDonalds, I decided it wasn’t enough,” he said. “When I got to MC, so many people had my back. The CDI advisors kept me focused and put me on a path to college. I’m going to LaGuardia Community College in the fall and it feels really good to be excited about the future.” At the ceremony Jampal Tsering, another graduate, introduced his tutor, Tim Ettenheim, who gave the commencement address. Ettenheim, a member of CDI’s Board, left students with the words of Bob Dylan: “May you always be courageous, stand upright and be strong. May you stay forever young.”
More graduation photos here.