September 13, 2021
Today, over one million students will return to in-person learning across NYC schools. The pandemic has created significant stress for children and their families, many of whom still face persisting needs today. Based on data from AAFSC’s 2020 COVID-19 Impact Survey Report, 74% of our clients reported economic hardship due to job loss, hours of employment loss, or business closures. To alleviate the economic burden felt by our clients, AAFSC organized a back-to-school supply distribution drive and collected and distributed over 260 items from generous supporters through our Amazon wish list. These items included backpacks, notebooks, pens/pencils, child-sized masks, and other high priority items. At the event, we were pleased to welcome Shahana Hanif, a Democratic Nominee for District 39 and Lincoln Restler for District 33 who both continue to support AAFSC’s work in providing linguistically and culturally competent resources for low-income New Yorkers.
Additionally, our team conducted COVID-19 vaccine outreach and informed families that students ages 12+ are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost and regardless of immigration status. AAFSC has helped vaccinate 260 people through our vaccine van events this summer, ensuring people of all backgrounds are educated and equipped to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
To supplement our efforts providing direct supplies to AAFSC’s families and young learners, our Young Adult & Youth Program (YAYP) will begin this fall and is actively recruiting youth ages 8-24! Our programs are designed to meet community needs and provide support for immigrant and refugee youth with homework help, test-prep, one-on-one support, skills training, and gender-based groups. AYWA – Audacious Young Women of Action (AYWA) is an all-female program, in which young women challenge relational and cultural expectations, identify role models, and explore female empowerment. Our female-identifying students have engaged in conversations using film, the arts, and discussion-based questions to dive deeper into themes of relationships, boundaries, and safe spaces. For young men, our MENar program offers discussion on healthy relationship habits and healthy masculinity using our culturally and linguistically competent curriculum.
Returning back-to-school impacts not just young learners, but the entire family. For immigrant and refugee community members who struggle with language barriers, necessary information such as COVID-19 safety protocols for NYC schools and COVID-19 vaccine information can be difficult to access. Through AAFSC’s Adult Readiness program, immigrant and refugee community members GET READY to work, learn, and grow through the support of ESOL classes, citizenship test prep, civics education, and one-on-one professional development support. This year, 25 students accomplished a major milestone by passing their citizenship interviews and exams, enabling them to vote, visit family abroad, and thrive in their new city. “I’m so happy I passed the citizenship exam because I want to apply to bring my brothers to get away from the war in Yemen”, one of our Adult Readiness students told Nidal, AAFSC’s Director of Readiness Initiatives and Community Outreach. We applaud our adult learners for their hard-work, determination, and enthusiasm to set strong examples for their families!