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City Tech Wins Competitive Kellogg Foundation ‘Grant for Racial Equality’

The W. K. Kellogg Foundation recently awarded City Tech Nursing Professor Kathleen Falk a $10,000 grant for her “Children of Promise” program for children of incarcerated parents. The highly competitive Grant for Racial Equality was extraordinarily difficult to win this year, as the Foundation received eight times the usual number of grant applications in this category.

In awarding the grant, the Kellogg Foundation stated, “We were impressed by your proposal and the work your organization is doing in support of achieving racial equity.” A description of the program is included in an online catalogue/index of racial healing efforts available to potential donors, which was released on May 11 in Washington, DC, as part of the Foundation’s national launch of its racial equity work.

“I am thrilled that the Kellogg Foundation acknowledged that this is an area which needs to be addressed,” says Falk, a Bay Ridge resident who is a doctoral candidate in nursing science at The City University of New York Graduate Center. The grant will help support a VISTA AmeriCorps program coordinator for the year beginning in June. Children of Promise is a community partnership between City Tech and PS 184 in Brownsville, Brooklyn, serving high-risk children ages 7-13.

Falk characterizes children of incarcerated parents as “a silent population,” who without intervention are likely to recreate their parents’ cycle of poverty, drug use, crime, and prison. In the program, she says, “School attendance is emphasized. It is most critical to keep children in school, away from drug and gang cultures. After attendance and academics improve sufficiently, the child then identifies one goal, either academic or vocational. It’s about empowerment.”

The program brings children of incarcerated parents to the campus for after-school enrichment activities such as mentoring, academic, cultural, and career events and other activities designed to help them establish relationships, remain in school and set goals. Falk also hopes to take the children on educational trips, such as a visit to Washington, DC, to show them how government works.

Though independent Children of Promise programs exist at several metropolitan locations, the PS 184 program is the City Tech nursing department’s initiative. Public schools and incarcerated parents refer children, and Falk and coordinator Judy Stoves try to match children’s and mentors’ interests. They recruit mentors from the College and community; many are retirees and/or nurses. Since most participants are boys and most mentors are women, Falk is seeking referrals of girls and is developing recruitment strategies to attract male mentors.

Falk will collect and analyze data regarding program outcomes to establish a baseline for the length of mentoring and other factors necessary for a child’s success. She is expanding her work to provide mentors to the school-based Cypress Hills Development Program, on the Brooklyn-Queens border. That Beacon program, under New York City Department of Youth and Community Development auspices, offers year-round supervised afternoon and evening enrichment programming for area residents over six years old.

“Receiving this prestigious grant is an honor for Professor Falk and the College,” says Barbara R. Grumet, City Tech’s Dean of Professional Studies. “Professor Falk is working with a population that is frequently overlooked by our education system and service agencies. We look forward to hearing about the impact of the mentoring program. We are grateful to the Kellogg Foundation for recognizing the value of this work.”

Says Falk, “I feel hopeful in being able to go forward with research to help these children, and to be in the forefront of developing public health policy.”


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