• January 23, 2020

    The Gerstner Family Foundation has made the first installment of its $750,000 grant to Seton Education Partners to support the opening of two new Brilla Schools in the Bronx. Founded by Seton Education Partners in 2013, Brilla Public Charter Schools is a network of high-performing, classically-based charter schools located in the Bronx, NY. The network currently serves 940 students, 91% of whom qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Brilla, which means “shine” in Spanish, was founded on the conviction that schools should develop the whole child—mind, body, and spirit. For that reason, in addition to leveraging the best instructional practices such as technology-based learning, a co-teaching model, and a longer school year, Brilla implements a robust character education program centered around the four core virtues of courage, justice, wisdom, and self-control. In both ELA and math, Brilla was the third highest performing school out of all New York state elementary schools serving a similar demographic. Other funders of the project include The Facilities Investment Fund and Charter School Growth Fund.

  • Gerstner Philanthropies Awards Over $3 Million For Emergency Grant Program
    January 22, 2020

    Gerstner Philanthropies announced today that it has awarded $3.1 million to 18 social services organizations to be used for emergency grants to people in need. Gerstner made the grants as part of its Helping Hands program, and anticipates making additional grants this year for Helping Hands to bring the total close to $4 million. Emergency grants have been a core part of Gerstner’s work for over a decade, with grants for Helping Hands totaling almost $12 million. Approximately 12,000 households have been helped, primarily in NYC and also in Boston and Palm Beach County, Florida. The majority of emergency grants are used for eviction prevention, though funds may also be used for other urgent needs. The average emergency grant size is under $1,000. Gerstner’s recent round of grantmaking comes on the heels of the first Helping Hands convening, held in November 2019 assembling representatives from all of the organizations in the program to discuss challenges and innovations, share stories of impact, and brainstorm ideas for scaling emergency grantmaking.

  • Is there a way to predict who will become homeless? These UCLA researchers say yes
    January 8, 2020

    With the ranks of homeless people growing faster than housing is being built, one of the most popular strategies for reducing homelessness has become to simply keep people in their homes. In theory, a small infusion of cash, counseling or legal aid could be the difference that prevents someone from ending up on the street. But reality isn’t so simple. Of the tens of thousands of people who are on the brink of losing their homes every year in California and across the country, only a tiny fraction do. “Only 1 in 10 people who seem like they are going to become homeless — actually become homeless,” said Phil Ansell, director of Los Angeles County’s Homeless Initiative.Most prevention programs don’t take such statistics into account, erring on the side of helping as many people in need as possible. But to be truly effective and cost-effective, a program would have to be able to identify that one person who will become homeless with reasonable accuracy. Until now, there’s been no way to do that. Researchers at UCLA’s California Policy Lab and the University of Chicago Poverty Lab, however, are changing that by analyzing millions of interactions between Los Angeles County’s social services agencies and residents.

  • Many Renters Who Face Eviction Owe Less Than $600
    December 13, 2019

    Among the millions of recent eviction cases researchers have begun to compile across the country, there are a startling number of modest sums. There are dozens of families in Texas evicted with money judgments — unpaid rent, late fees, court costs — totaling $516. There are multiple families in Cumberland County, N.C., who owed all of $301. There is a household in Providence, R.I., whose 2016 court record shows a debt of just $127. Such relatively small sums suggest that, for all of the intractable problems of poverty and affordable housing driving the nation’s eviction crisis, a little intervention could help many people. And politicians in Washington increasingly have such ideas in mind: court translators, more legal aid, mediation — even emergency rent assistance.

  • NYC Has a Family Homelessness Crisis. Who are the Families?
    December 13, 2019

    “We just don’t know when or where we’ll have to move,” [Rosa Maria] Febo says. “I don’t know where we’ll go. Every day I text my worker with anxiety [asking] ‘Anything yet, anything yet?'” That chronic uncertainty is the hallmark of homelessness in New York City, where families with children, like the Febos, make up nearly three-quarters of the population in the city’s municipal shelter system. Tens of thousands of other families live in temporary and precarious situations — sleeping on in-laws’ couches, shuffling between friends’ floors or staying with mom’s partner in apartments where their names do not appear on the lease. A lack of affordable housing is the main driver of homelessness in the city, according to the Coalition for the Homeless. At a staggering scale, and with a profound impact on city life, the affordable housing crunch has exacerbated issues like domestic violence and fueled a crisis that disproportionately affects families of color headed by single mothers across New York City.