Essay Editing at Credit Suisse

Students from Manhattan Comprehensive Night & Day High School got a jump start on their college applications yesterday with one-on-one feedback from Credit Suisse employees at an Essay Editing Workshop hosted by CDI Board Member Jackie Krese and Credit Suisse’s IT Women’s Council.

CAS student breaks into broadcast with Wolverine!

City-As-School student and comic book fan Tatiana Alvarez hit the red carpet to interview Hugh Jackman during a Logan movie fan event. See how she did in her on-screen premiere which aired this weekend on FOX and friends.

Exploring the options

Student Sebastian Atiencia speaks to a representative from Manhattan’s Swedish Institute College of Health Sciences

For CDI students not sure of their plans after high school, there are plenty of options. Sometimes it’s straight to college after graduation, other times it might make more sense for a student to get vocational training, take on a service learning opportunity, apprenticeship or gain other work experience before hitting the books again.  CDI College and Career Advisors work with students to find the right fit. One of the ways they do that is through introducing students to what’s out there with a combination of College and Career Fairs hosted at each of the schools throughout the year.

Last week, students from The High School for Health Professions and Human Services gathered in the auditorium for a Career Options Fair to meet with representatives from the New York City Police and Fire Departments, U.S. Army, NPower, The Door, Year Up and several other organizations looking for bright students eager to jumpstart their careers after graduation.

“I have some friends who school isn’t so much their thing. We talked to the army and the New York Fire Department.  It was interesting and seems like those could be good career paths,” says Sebastian Atiencia, a junior. “It’s good to know there are a bunch of choices and more school isn’t the only way to go.”

The Career Options Fair is just one way students explore different careers. CDI Advisors also bring professionals in for panel discussions, connect students to internships and take student groups to visit local companies so they get a first-hand look at a wide selection of professional fields.

“We strive to ensure that all of our students are equipped with the necessary options and resources to plan the best post-secondary plan for themselves. It’s about developing a career, not just landing a job,” says Cristina Iavarone, a HPHS Career Advisor.

Next up is the City-As-School Career Options Fair in early May.   Manhattan Comprehensive Night & Day High School hosts its  College and Career Fair every fall.



Preparation Meets Opportunity with BNY Mellon

CDI thanks BNY Mellon for a wonderful evening of mentorship

BNY Mellon hosted an evening of mentorship and career planning with CDI’s own up and coming business leaders last month during Preparation Meets Opportunity. The event was hosted by the BNY Mellon IMPACT Business Resource Group, part of BNY Mellon’s Affinity Network that provides career development and support for multicultural employees. Corporate volunteers met with members of CDI’s Young Men’s Leadership Program, making it the first time the young men from all three of CDI’s partner schools came together to plan for their career success.  CDI Board member Clara Brooks, a VP at BNY Mellon Wealth, brought together a committed group of professionals across BNY Mellon locations to make it happen.

“It was great to see young men taking an active role in their education and career paths at a young age, very inspiring.” said Ajene Oden, a Relationship Manager from Pershing, LLC, a BNY Mellon Company.

BNY Mellon panel moderator Lenue (Lenny) Singletary with panelists Christopher Sauer, Walter Smith and Ajene Oden

Ajene was part of the BNY Mellon panel that shared the triumphs and missteps that come with carving out a career. Students asked questions and opened up about their current struggles like failing classes. They heard from Walter Smith, Managing Director of BNY Mellon Wealth Management Finance and connected with professionals in various stages of their careers from other companies like Accenture, Goldman Sachs, HBO and Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York. The keynote speaker was Sonni Holland, Senior Program Director at The Charles Hayden Foundation who gave his ten guidelines to getting ahead… Number 1:  Be on time. He talked about how a strong work ethic, having the right attitude, and taking extra steps helped him progress when he was early in his career as a professional basketball player and his talents and skills weren’t yet fully developed. The event culminated when each student paired off with a mentor who taught an important rite of passage—how to tie a tie.

Student Erik Rudnicki from Manhattan Comprehensive Night & Day High School said it was his first time networking and mingling with business people.

“I was nervous before, but it was great to get in that state of mind and thinking about preparing for interviews and our careers,” he said. “That night gave students like me an opportunity to step up.”

CDI has been working to increase events that develop youth leaders and give more students the opportunity to foster their aspirations in business settings with real insight and feedback from working professionals across industries. This month, women step into the spotlight with career events planned at The High School for Health Professions and Human Services for Women’s History Month.

BNY Mellon Wealth Managing Director Walter Smith and City-As-School student Kevin Martinez

See more photos from the event.

When Preparation Meets Opportunity

Young men from all three of CDI’s partner schools gathered with business professionals at BNY Mellon on Wednesday night for a workshop on preparing themselves for future success. They gained insight into the world of work as speakers and panelists shared their own paths to success before working with students one on one to review resumes and teach the power of the power tie!

CDI is grateful to our generous hosts the BNY Mellon IMPACT Business Resource Group.

Unstoppable winning streak for MCNDHS Table Tennis Team

Congratulations to the Manhattan Comprehensive Night & Day High School Eagles who took the Public Schools Athletic League Multiple Pathways League Table Tennis Championship for the third year in a row!

Heading to college with a four-year scholarship

Ester Appaih and Sultana Bhuiyan show their school pride

Two seniors from The High School for Health Professions and Human Services are proud winners of full, four-year scholarships from The Posse Foundation. Ester Appaih and Sultana Bhuiyan had some help along the way. The nationally competitive Posse Scholarship is awarded to students with high leadership potential from multicultural backgrounds who are often overlooked by the traditional college application process.

“My parents weren’t going to be like ‘Have you done this yet? Have you done that yet? They didn’t even know about it until later, after I won it. My CDI advisor Fatimah Shalash was so helpful; she helped us prepare for the interviews and told us everything we needed to know.” Ester said. “Now I’ll be going to Trinity College in the fall and studying liberal arts with my eye on getting a Ph.D.” Ester moved to New York City from Ghana when she was 8 years old.

For Sultana Bhuiyan the college decision involved more than meeting deadlines. It was emotional. Originally I was not happy about being nominated because I always thought I would stay in the city to be near my family. I dress culturally. I had a fear of forgetting I was from Bangladesh and forgetting my culture if I moved away.”

Her family also had some reservations, and there were several times where Sultana hesitated and considered not continuing the application process. Fatimah and HPHS Principal Robert Gentile met with Sultana and her parents to talk through her options. That meeting became a turning point and with her parents full support Sultana pursued the scholarship.

“Posse called to tell me I had won at 9:46 p.m. on a weeknight. My mom was listening in the kitchen. After I hung up, we started crying and we hugged it out. That hug was like a symbol of her letting me go but also a symbol of her support.” Sultana will be attending Brandeis University this fall to study biochemistry with the long-term goal of pursing an M.D. or Ph.D.

As part of CDI’s intensive college preparation for students, staff holds information sessions, workshops, and one-on-one sessions with all seniors and potential graduates informing students and their families about the college process, requirements, deadlines and financial obligations. An area of focus is scholarship funding for students who aspire to go to four-year colleges. This is especially important for many students who are the first to attend college or whose parents are from another country  and may not be fully aware of the opportunities available to them to pay for school.

The Posse Scholarship is one of many scholarships students will be hearing back from over the next few months. CDI will be highlighting more students as they prepare for college. This spring we are also hosting a scholarship luncheon to celebrate those who’ve been awarded scholarships and those who have helped fund their college dreams. If you’d like to learn more about CDI’s scholarships, please contact Director of Development Andrée Lockwood at




Oh, thank heaven for 7-Eleven!

Sal Napolitano presenting the check to Coach Mark Dorman with soccer, volleyball and table tennis members

Good sportsmanship on and off the court has paid off for student athletes at Manhattan Comprehensive Night & Day High School. “The students from Manhattan Comprehensive are always in here, and they are always respectful and well behaved,” said Sal Napolitano, the owner of the local 7-Eleven store on 14th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. “I’m big into the community and this was one way of giving back.” Napolitano applied to 7-Eleven corporate headquarters for a grant to support the school’s athletic teams as part of Project A-Game, a corporate initiative supporting youth sports programming. And the award? $711. CDI and Manhattan Comprehensive thanks Mr. Napolitano and 7-Eleven for this generous support!

Principal takeover at MCNDHS

Student athletes and CDI staff pose for a post-lunch photo with Principal Michael Toise and Principal for a Day Bob Delaney, Jr.

Students and staff may have noticed a new face strolling the halls of Manhattan Comprehensive Night & Day High School this past December when special guest Bob Delaney, Jr. became Principal for a Day.

“I’ve heard so much about what a great educational experience Manhattan Comprehensive provides from my father over the years and my wife keeps me pretty well updated, but I decided it was time to come see for myself,” Bob said. His father is longtime CDI supporter Bob Delaney, Sr. and his wife is Pam Craig, Chair of CDI’s Board of Directors. Bob is a Partner at Crestview Partners in Manhattan.

“It was great to learn how closely the staffs of CDI and MCNDHS work together to address the unique needs of each student. I was so impressed by how deeply everyone I met cared for the students’ well being,” he said.

Acting Principal Delaney started the day over coffee with Principal Michael Toise who prepped him for the role with some school history before handing off the reins. Delaney then took a school tour and made several classroom visits. “This reminds me of my days in high school! It’s been a while since I had to work through these kinds of equations. Sine, cosine… I’ll leave the students to it,” he laughed while visiting Mr. Jurney’s math class. He ended the day swapping stories with students from the soccer, volleyball and table tennis teams on victories, rivals and what is takes to be a great student athlete.

CDI welcomes visitors! If you’d like to come by for a tour or to learn more about CDI’s students and programs, please contact CDI’s Director of Development Andrée Lockwood at


International Thanksgiving Celebration at MCNDHS

A feast from around the world! Students hosted an International Thanksgiving Celebration at Manhattan Comprehensive Night & Day High School on Wednesday, November 23rd. Happy Thanksgiving!

Fall College and Career Fair at City-As-School

Michael A. Roberts takes helm as CDI’s Executive Director

Students and alumni with CDI's Executive Director Michael A. Roberts.

Students and alumni with Michael A. Roberts.

Comprehensive Development, Inc. (CDI) is pleased to announce that Michael A. Roberts is CDI’s new Executive Director. Michael has served as the Assistant Executive Director since September 2013 and has dedicated his career to serving and working in partnership with young men and women to ensure they achieve their goals for success beyond high school and break generational poverty.

“Michael has such an energy and passion for our mission and the young people we serve. It’s evident in all that he leads on behalf of CDI, and we are excited to move forward into this next stage of growth and development with Michael at the helm,” said Pamela J. Craig, Chair of CDI’s Board of Directors.

While at CDI, Michael has managed programming for young adults ages 14 to 24 at The High School for Health Professions and Human Services and City-As-School High School and overseen the launch of the CDI Career Academy—a sectoral-based training certificate program for recent graduates, now in its second year. He brings more than 20 years experience of youth development and nonprofit management to the role, first from Safe Horizon and later from The Children’s Aid Society. Michael has spoken and provided trainings around the U.S. and has worked at both federal and local levels to develop strategies, programs and positive outcomes for young people to become leaders in their homes, schools and communities while developing the skills needed to compete and succeed in the 21st Century.

Michael earned his Masters of Social Work from Hunter College. He succeeds John J. Mancuso, Jr. who retired after a successful 10 year tenure which included the expansion of CDI from one site to form a network of schools.


Here Comes Min!

IMG_2015-001CDI offers students dozens of internships around the city. But some of the most rewarding internships happen right at CDI’s offices. Min Zheng is a student at Manhattan Comprehensive and a CDI intern helping to coordinate the tutoring services. When Min came to NYC from China a year and a half ago and enrolled at MC, she was determined to do well, improve her English skills and get some professional skills.

“As the Tutoring Coordinator I do some data entry so that we know who received tutoring that day. But a lot of what I do is reminding students to come down to CDI for tutoring. Every day I go into classrooms with a list of all the students who signed up to receive tutoring – as many as 40 a day. At first, it was hard to get the courage to stand in front of the whole class and talk, but now I’m used to it. When I read out the names I can see right away on their faces which students are  going to make excuses for why they can’t come. Then I start my convincing. I remind them that it’s a free resource offered by CDI and that they should take advantage of it because it really helps. I know most of the students in the school now and I try to get students who I know are struggling, to get tutoring. This internship has really changed me – I’ve learned to become more assertive and I can advocate for myself. ” 

CAS’ Internships Offer Experiences and Spark Passions

IMG_9664Twice a year at City-As-School, students gather in the library for the Student Learning Expo to present their portfolio projects – the comprehensive output of their internship work and a requirement for graduation. Internships are an integral part of the CAS curriculum. Students split their time between classes and internships where they get real-world experience. They can chose from hundreds of internships all over New York City, from businesses and organizations, to schools and art galleries. Jennifer Matos has always dreamed of being an animal activist, but wanted to broaden her understanding of human rights issues, so she interned at the Museum of Tolerance. “It really opened up my eyes to the history and ongoing issues that people face around the world. I was a docent and teaching groups of students about the museum gave me so much confidence to speak publicly. I want to pursue wildlife management next year in college, but I also want to continue to be involved in promoting human rights because of this internship.”

Emily Dorta inteEmily Dortarned as an Art Teacher Assistant at her old middle school in the Bronx. “I was interested in working with children with developmental issues and helping them gain confidence and understanding through art. But I”ve never worked in a classroom before, so I wanted to know what it”s really like to be a teacher. I discovered you really need a lot of patience! I”m still really interested in being a teacher but I”m also considering being a pediatrician.”

The Eagles take flight!

The Eagles take flight

MC’s first soccer team at the Small School Athletic League championship game

Congratulations to the The Eagles, the brand new Manhattan Comprehensive Soccer Team, which has just finished their season with a bang! They made it all the way to the final championships of the Small School’s Athletic League in October. “There are so many kids from all around the world at this school who have grown up playing soccer,” says Mark Dorman, MC’s Physical Education teacher, who got the team together. “There are a lot of talented students and there was a real thirst to have an official team. Now we’ve finally been able to make that happen and we can attract more young people to the school because of it. Hadji was the one who was out on the field making it happen.”

El Hadji Diop, the team’s Field Coach, graduated from Manhattan Comprehensive in 2004 and came back as soon as he heard about the new team. “I was playing and coaching the NYC Senegal team when one of my players, who was also a student at MC, told me that the school was looking for a field coach for their very first soccer team. I thought: ‘I have to go back and help those kids!'” He met with Dorman and within weeks they were all out on Randall’s Island having their first practice.

Diop playing on Central Connecticut State College's Division 1 soccer team

Diop playing on Central Connecticut State College’s Division 1 soccer team

Diop remembers his first soccer ball back home in Senegal – it was made of cheap plastic. “Growing up in Africa, soccer is a huge part of life. We play all the time, even barefoot if we have to.” Diop came to the U.S. alone at the age of 18, with a few words of English and dreams of going to college. He soon enrolled at Manhattan Comprehensive and after two years, he received his high school diploma and went on to BMCC for an accounting degree. His high grades and skills on the soccer field attracted the notice of some college recruiters. He received a full scholarship to play at Central Connecticut State University, a Division 1 school. But his chances to go pro were cut short after he suffered several injuries. He put his Accounting degree to work at City Group, all the while coaching and playing on amateur soccer teams in the city.

Diop playing on Central Connecticut State College’s Division 1 soccer team “I love playing soccer but I love coaching more because I get to teach these young guys. I am always reminding the MC team that they are student players; their education is what matters first. And they listen. Some students have really turned around their grades this year and several have been offered scholarships. I am so proud of what they’ve accomplished. To come so far the first year is amazing!” Diop is looking forward to next season already, but in the meantime, he’s harnessing his relationship with the students by working with the school’s counselors and CDI’s college advisors to mentor the players through the overwhelming college application process. “I’ve been where they are, and I want to help them use their talent and dedication to soccer for their life after high school.”

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