Blog

New Program Prepares Middle Schoolers for High School and Beyond September 12, 2016

This school year, we are excited to launch a pre-college prep program for 6th to 8th grade students, helping our students become even stronger candidates for selective high schools and colleges in the future. The program incorporates several specific initiatives that directly correlate to college readiness, and focuses on getting this information to our students and alumni early to better ensure that they are able to strongly compete with their peers nationwide.

The program includes our existing young men’s and young women’s mentoring programs, but also provides dedicated class time for high school applications; executive functioning and life skills classes, where students will learn critical soft skills and professional tools, and increased and targeted alumni outreach.
 

Storefront Academy Welcomes its Students Back to School September 8, 2016

 

Storefront Academy welcomed its nearly 400 students from both campuses on Wednesday, Sept. 7 for the 2016-2017 school year.

On our South Bronx campus, students found themselves in a brand new building on 138th Street, welcomed by their teachers and our new Principal, Dr. Nicole Garcia, and our new Assistant Principal, Carol Singletary. In Harlem, students were excited to be back on 129th Street and were greeted warmly by Principal Alexis Thomason, who rang the bell at 8:15 to welcome all students back to school.

Click here to view photos of the first day of school at our Harlem and South Bronx campuses.

 

 

Storefront Academy Harlem Earns Coveted 4-Star Rating From Charity Navigator June 15, 2016

Storefront Academy Harlem’s strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency have earned it a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator. This is the first time that Storefront Academy Harlem has earned this top distinction.

Since 2002, using objective analysis, Charity Navigator has awarded only the most fiscally responsible organizations a 4-star rating. In 2011, Charity Navigator added 17 metrics, focused on governance and ethical practices as well as measures of openness, to its ratings methodology.  These Accountability & Transparency metrics, which account for 50 percent of a charity’s overall rating, reveal which charities operate in accordance with industry best practices and whether they are open with their donors and stakeholders.  On June 1, 2016, we upgraded our methodology for rating each charity’s’ financial health with CN 2.1. These enhancements further substantiate the financial health of Charity Navigator’s four star charities.

“Storefront Academy Harlem’s exceptional 4-star rating sets it apart from its peers and demonstrates its trustworthiness to the public,” said Michael Thatcher, President & CEO of Charity Navigator. “Only a quarter of charities rated by Charity Navigator receive the distinction of our 4-star rating. This adds Storefront Academy Harlem to a preeminent group of charities working to overcome our world’s most pressing challenges. Based on its 4-star rating, people can trust that their donations are going to a financially responsible and ethical charity when they decide to support Storefront Academy Harlem.”
 
“It’s important our donors trust that we’re using their donations wisely to successfully educate urban youth to become critical and decisive thinkers, ready to solve the problems of tomorrow,” said Ray Cameron, Chairman of Storefront Academy Harlem's Board of Trustees.  “Our 4-star Charity Navigator rating demonstrates to our supporters our good governance and financial accountability.”

Storefront Academy Harlem’s rating and other information about charitable giving are available free of charge on www.charitynavigator.org.   

 

 

Gala Celebrates 50th Anniversary June 6, 2016

 

Elsie V. Aidnioff hugs Victor Catano, one of her first students at Storefront Academy, after his moving tribute to her.

 

On Thursday, April 21, Storefront Academy Harlem hosted its 50th Anniversary Gala Celebration at 583 Park. More than 350 guests attended this special evening, for which Ford Foundation President Darren Walker served as the honorary chair. The event was emceed by FOX 5 NY Meteorologists Mike Woods and Audrey Puente. Guests were also treated to the song stylings of Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist Karrin Allyson, Grammy-nominated jazz trumpeter Jon Faddis, alongside composer and Peabody-award winning radio host Bill McGlaughlin. The evening was capped off with a luxury live auction conducted by Robbie Gordy of Christie’s. 

A highlight of the evening was a short documentary about the school, which was produced by Academy Award nominated filmmaker Karen Goodman and featured footage from her Oscar-nominated film about the school from 1988, The Children’s Storefront. The film featured the story of the school’s history, and the dream that founder Ned O’Gorman brought to Harlem. When the film ended, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Storefront Academy Harlem’s 50th Anniversary Gala Celebration was the perfect opportunity to pay tribute to the school’s longest standing and most significant supporters. Storefront Academy would not be the successful and thriving institution it is today without these individuals who believed in the school from the beginning, including:

•    Mica and Ahmet Ertegun: Ahmet, founder of Atlantic Records, and Mica, philanthropist and interior designer, were some of the earliest supporters of the Storefront. They brought notoriety to the Storefront and were incredibly generous at a time when their support was critical to the school’s continued viability.
•    Christian Melhado: Christian served on the Board of Trustees of the Storefront and provided incredible guidance at a time when the board was faced with many difficult decisions. He strengthened the school’s leadership by introducing current board member Bob Rylee and Emeritus Trustee Darren Walker.
•    Edo von Saher: Edo served at the Treasurer of the Board during the Storefront’s expansion to an elementary school and helped ensure the school’s financial sustainability during a critical time. He also left his mark on campus by creating “Edo’s Kitchen,” the school’s cafeteria where students still enjoy breakfast and lunch today.

Other supporters we paid tribute to that evening were Elsie V. Aidinoff, Joan Ganz Cooney, Christine LaSala, Michael Stubbs, Holly Peterson, George and Antonia Grumbach, Fiduciary Trust, Morgan Stanley, and French-American Aid for Children.

Thanks to all of the evening’s generous donors and sponsors, this year’s gala raised over a million dollars to benefit the programs at our school. It was an amazing evening, honoring the first 50 years of the Storefront, and to looking forward to the bright, growing future of Storefront Academy as an important player in the field of urban education.

Click here to view the special film commemorating the Storefront's rich history and our hopes for the future. Click here to view photos from the historic evening.  
 

Meet Storefront Student Kera C. June 6, 2016

 

Kera C. is a bright, happy, smiling 2nd grader at Storefront Academy Harlem.

When Kera joined the Storefront family last year, she had difficulty adjusting. She had trouble managing her anger, she would throw tantrums, bang her head, and would sometimes cry uncontrollably. She could also be defiant, rolling her eyes at teachers and refusing to participate in activities. She often talked about how she missed the friends from her old school and how she felt so lonely. These actions affected all of her classmates, but most profoundly affected Kera’s own learning.

To help Kera, Storefront Academy’s team stepped in.  Social worker Audra Jimenez was involved from the beginning, and started by including Kera in a girls counseling group, where she was able to form friendships, which helped her begin to feel more a part of the school and her class.

She continued to struggle with outbursts in the classroom, and as her second grade year began, she started working with science teacher Margaret Chute (also studying to be a guidance counselor), who gave Kera tools and strategies to help her during difficult emotional times. During their weekly sessions, they practiced role playing and worked to find ways for Kera to get her angry energy out, including doing jumping jacks. Her teachers supported her growth by encouraging her to use her new strategies in class, and praising Kera to her classmates for her efforts to control her anger. Kera tracked her progress with a special chart, and was rewarded every time she reached a benchmark, even earning lunch with the principal.

“Before Kera learned her strategies to deal with her emotions, she wasn’t confident academically,” said Kera’s teacher, Jamie Warinner. “Since she’s learned how to cool herself down, Kera’s focus in class and her grades have really improved.” Kera is also quick to teach her strategies to other students in her class, giving her yet another opportunity to connect with her peers.

Because of the support of the Storefront team, Kera’s has transformed into a calmer, happier, smiling student. Her newfound tools have boosted her self-confidence and pride. “I’m not mad anymore,” Kera said, “because I have strategies!”
 

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE CLASS OF 2016 June 6, 2016

Storefront Academy Harlem's 8th Graders have consistently been accepted into incredibly competitive, high-performing and prestigious high schools, and this year is no exception. The Storefront community is incredibly proud of our accomplished scholars. Here is a list of schools that have granted admission to the Storefront Graduating Class of 2016.

Boarding School/ Independent School
Purnell School
Church Farm School
Emma Willard School*
The Knox School*
Darrow School
Buxton School
Berkeley Carroll School*
Friends Seminary*
Rudolf Steiner School*
The Chapin School*
Grace Church School*
The Hewitt School*

Parochial School
Xavier High School
Cardinal Hayes High School
The Cathedral School
St. Barnabas High School
St. Jean Baptiste High School
St. George Academy
St. Vincent Ferrer High School
Fordham Preparatory School
The Academy of Mount St. Ursula
La Salle Academy
Monsignor Scalan High School
All Hallows High School
Cristo Rey New York High School

Public School
Bronx Health Sciences High School
Hudson High School of Learning Technologies
Manhattan Village Academy
Manhattan Business Academy
Chelsea Career and Technical Education
Central Park East High School
Urban Assembly New York Harbor School
 Urban Assembly School for the Performing Arts
The Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music
The High School of Fashion Industries
High School for Health Professions and Human Services
Eagle Academy for Young Men of Harlem

*Student included on selective wait list.
 

Faculty Focus: Trayshia Rogers June 3, 2016

“All my seventh graders share a similar desire to be defined as leaders,” Ms. Rogers said. “This year, it has become part of their identity.”

Ms. Trayshia Rogers is Storefront Academy Harlem’s 7th grade humanities and homeroom teacher.  She not only instructs her students in reading and writing, she also guides them into becoming strong, dynamic leaders in the school and out. It’s just one aspect of the values-driven culture at the Storefront, emphasizing students’ self-direction and strength of character.

 

7th Grade Teacher Trayshia Rogers engaging her students

"Part of them seeing themselves as leaders is being accountable, to themselves and to each other," Ms. Rogers said. Ms. Rogers organized the 7th grade into small groups, teams that have to work together. "I want them to see beyond their own personalities and relationships to the bigger picture. they encourage each other, call each other out when there's a weakness on their team."

This accountability helps students encourage each other with everything from homework to behavior outside the classroom. The teams also help the students learn to work with every student in class, even with personalities that they wouldn’t naturally choose. Ms. Rogers said, “they’ve learned that this is like a business, that they’re all here for the same reason: to learn.” 

The 7th graders keep in mind that others are watching them, and that they can be powerful examples to younger students.  “For example, they know how to behave during the whole school assembly,” Ms. Rogers explained. “They’re quiet when they’re supposed to be, making sure to participate, and doing what’s asked.”

The 7th Grade students have also been going into the lower classes, reading to the younger students and finding other ways to be helpful.

 


Ms. Rogers and the Storefront 7th Graders

Learning how to bring about change is another topic that the 7th grade tackles with Ms. Rogers’ help. They’ve been learning the value of advocating instead of simply complaining, and seeing how organizing and persuading can be a strong and mature way to bring about change. They’ve even advocated to have a prom next year, and managed to get an agreement from Principal Thomason: if each student gets into one of their top three high school choices, then there will be a prom. It’s a great example of the students taking responsibility, and collaborating for a desired result. 

Seventh grade is a challenging time and an important year, and Storefront students are lucky to have a dynamic and thoughtful teacher like Ms. Rogers. She is just one member of our passionate faculty, dedicated not only to the academic progress of our students, but also their emotional development and helping them find their place in the community and the world.

“They want to do well, and they know they have to work hard to get into the good high schools. While they may still have their moments as typical middle schoolers,” Ms. Rogers said, “they work extremely hard to be viewed as responsible members of their school community.”

 

Book - 50 Stories 50 Years: Elsie V. Aidinoff May 23, 2016

[As part of the celebration of Storefront Academy's 50th Anniversary, we have compiled stories for a book, 50 Stories, 50 Years. The stories make up the fabric of our school: our history, our community, everything that makes up the beacon of hope that is the Storefront. Here is one of those stories.]

On her first day as a volunteer at the Storefront in 1980, Elsie Aidinoff was instructed by founder Ned O’Gorman to jump into the back of a van with some students and go to the Botanical Garden. Although she wasn’t quite prepared to chaperone a field trip, Elsie happily went with the students -- and fell in love with them.

Before finding the Storefront, Elsie always found herself around children. She tutored in Harlem public schools and was on the board of trustees for the NYC School Volunteer Program. Even when she lived abroad in places like Paris, Brussels, Hong Kong, and London, she always found herself drawn to the youngest community members, working to make a different.

Elsie had been led to the Storefront because of her desire to help give an education to students who normally wouldn’t be given the opportunity. While working at a New York public high school, she was appalled to find that there were teenagers that didn’t know how to read. She was outraged at the state of urban youth and their access to education

After her field trip to the botanical garden, Elsie found herself spending more and more time at the Storefront. She relished the chance to work at a school that served the children suffering in a hard and violent neighborhood. She went to a meeting of the board of trustees and was elected president. Next thing she knew, she started teaching at the Storefront in 1982, but again, as a volunteer. Ned would pick her up in the morning, and they would drive around Harlem in a van, picking up children to take them to school. She taught 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades.

The neighborhood was a disaster area, and students were living very rough lives. Many lived in broken or unsafe homes, or suffered the loss of their only caretaker through drug addiction, incarceration, or death.  Because she could not stand to watch the suffering of some of the young people attending the Storefront, she amazingly opened her home to several students, some of whom lived with her for many years.  She is still in touch with those students today. One is a doctor.

She taught at The Storefront for seven years, and was President of the board of trustees from 1982 to 1995, and remains an active member of the board. She led the school through the busy, struggling years, with the fundraising office in her living room. As the school grew, Elsie was instrumental in the acquisition and design of the buildings that make up our campus.

Her love of children and her commitment to providing them opportunities is what pushes her to continue her work.

Book - 50 Stories, 50 Years: Volunteers May 19, 2016

[As part of the celebration of Storefront Academy's 50th Anniversary, we have compiled stories for a book, 50 Stories, 50 Years. The stories make up the fabric of our school: our history, our community, everything that makes up the beacon of hope that is the Storefront. Here is one of those stories.]

In our earliest years, volunteers were the Storefront’s only staff. They donated their time because they believed in our kids and our mission. It’s the only way that Ned’s vision of academic success in Harlem became a reality.

 

It was volunteers who helped us to find permanent space, and to become an accredited institution. Volunteers completed the mounds of paperwork to open a bank account, to be approved to educate children, and to become a non-profit organization. They did our taxes, balanced the budget, and wrote letters and grant proposals. It is hard to believe most had other jobs at the same time.

 

They are our trustees, homework helpers, tutors in the reading room, field trip chaperons, mentors, and teaching assistants. It is hard to imagine our work without them, and impossible to quantify their impact.

For many, it’s the first way they meet our students, and learn of our work. Perhaps it’s a call for helpers on a trip to the botanical gardens, or someone to grade homework, or gardeners with a green thumb. What most find is that once our students find their way into their heart, it’s near impossible to step away.

 

Hundreds of volunteers pass through our doors each year. They find us in many ways, and are always so willing to do whatever they can to put a smile on a student’s face. Their mark on our community is tangible, and is the reason we continue to thrive.

 

 

 

Mural on Campus Advocates for Educational Equality May 17, 2016

Street artist Rone and non-profit organization Not a Crime and its Education Is Not A Crime campaign have collaborated to paint a compelling mural on the wall of our campus at 70 East 129th Street.

The mural tells the story of Nasim Biglari, 29, an Iranian woman of the Bahá'í faith, and portrays her reading. Nasim was denied educational opportunities in Iran because of her family's religious beliefs. The Bahá'ís are Iran’s largest religious minority, and are often harassed and jailed, denied livelihoods, and are barred from teaching or studying at universities.

Nasim was forced to leave her homeland to find opportunity in the United States. Today, she is a photographer and lives in California. She has been accepted to UC Berkeley and UC San Diego to continue her education. The mural's message is a powerful statement about the importance of education, and the challenge that many still face to get the education they want and deserve.

Nasim’s story is rooted in the mission of Storefront Academy Harlem. Many of the children who come to us face insurmountable challenges that stand in the way of their education. At the Storefront, we pride ourselves on meeting every child where they are, and providing a joyful learning environment for students who would otherwise fall through the cracks.

Rone, and coordinator of Education Is Not A Crime, Saleem Vaillancourt, met with our seventh grade class to talk about Rone's work and the massive street art project in Harlem. The students asked Rone and Saleem a lot of compelling questions, including probing into why they chose Harlem for this project, as well as the materials Rone uses.

“Storefront Academy is celebrating 50 years of educating students in a very powerful way,” Donovan Rivens, a 7th grade student at Storefront Academy Harlem, said. “I think it’s great to have this mural on the wall of our building representing the freedom of education.”

We're proud to be able to use our building to share this powerful message, and to remind our students every day the importance of education and that they should not let anything stand in the way of their success.