District 6 Public Schools
Since 2006, NYP CHALK has collaborated with elementary schools in Northern Manhattan’s School District 6 to increase access to healthy lifestyles for students and their families. CHALK School Partnerships is a four-year model concentrating on sustainable and systemic changes within each institution. Our first step is to establish or strengthen the school’s wellness council with the aim of transferring ownership of projects and wellness goals to local stakeholders throughout the intervention. We then ask schools to choose from a “menu of options” that includes healthy snack policies, staff professional development workshops on nutrition and physical activity (including the Just MoveTM program), partnerships with community-based organizations that offer wellness programming, and active design projects like school gardens and improved play spaces. In 2018, the program expanded to include middle- and high schools. To continue engagement with schools post-partnership, NYP CHALK’s D6 School Wellness Grants provide project funding for up to 10 schools each year alongside an opportunity to share best practices.
NYP CHALK’s flexible model allowed the program to pivot quickly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We heard from our school partners that supporting students’ families facing job loss or reduced hours was a priority. Working with Corbin Hill Food Project, we provided monthly grocery boxes to more than 350 students between April 2020 and December 2021.
Early Childhood Centers
In 2017, NYP CHALK received funding to adapt the CHALK model to the early childhood setting through Healthy Tomorrows Partnership for Children, a collaboration between the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). CHALK Jr has since partnered with four early childhood centers across Northern Manhattan to implement systemic, sustainable changes in a pre-school setting targeting underserved children and their families. In 2020, CHALK Jr supported our partners in implementing COVID-19 safety precautions and responding to increased food insecurity among children at this key developmental stage. We also launched the CHALK Jr family engagement project, a paid opportunity for parents/caregivers to learn about nutrition and physical activity and then lead workshops on these topics for their peers.
NYP CHALK’s Community-Based Organizations (CBO) Mini-Grant Program provides technical assistance and $2,000 - $5,000 per year in project funding for community-based organizations, renewable for up to 3 years. Mini-grantee projects focus on a range of wellness topics including nutrition, urban gardening, dance, sports, music and the arts, food insecurity, and youth development.Our 2022 mini-grantees are; Collectives 4 Arts, Music & Dance; Connectemonos; Fan4Kids; Fencing in the Park; Jazz Power Initiative; Plant Powered Metro NY; Uptown Soccer; Uptown Stories; [vivauptown.org]Viva Uptown, and NYC Mountain Bike Association. NYP CHALK also continued to support innovative food insecurity initiatives in 2022, providing mini-grants to Washington Heights & Inwood Food Council and La Puerta Estrecha.
NYP CHALK’s Capacity Building Initiative invests in community leaders through one-on-one coaching and group skill-building opportunities in partnership with Plan A Advisors. Each year, CBOs are invited to attend a series of webinars/workshops and an annual conference co-designed by a planning committee of CBO leaders. Workshop topics include leadership in a time of crisis, building a non-profit board, developing a theory of change, and fundraising in a virtual age. Our 2021 conference, Emerging With Strength, brought together 59 community leaders representing 44 youth-focused organizations to share best practices and learn from experts in the field. CBOs seeking additional support can take advantage of Plan A Advisor’s office hours, one-on-one consulting projects offered through the CBO Mini-Grant Program, and an online resource hub.
NYP CHALK’s Built Environment initiative seeks to activate and enhance public spaces through partnerships with community-based organizations, NYC Parks, and GrowNYC. We also bring cooking demonstrations, fruit-infused water, and healthy lifestyles activities to health fairs, open streets, farmers’ markets, and community-led events in Washington Heights and Inwood.
CHALK Throughout NYP
NYP CHALK is currently working to adapt several programs created in Northern Manhattan for communities in Brooklyn, Queens, Lower Manhattan, and Westchester identified through NYP’s Community Health Needs Assessment. Each site will adapt elements of NYP CHALK’s obesity-prevention model to meet the unique needs and leverage the strengths of these diverse communities. The expansion launched in 2020 with a core focus on responding to food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic through CBO-led Food FARMacies. Our key partners in this work include West Side Campaign Against Hunger, Feeding Westchester, Corbin Hill Food Project, Grow NYC, Henry Street Settlement, Make the Road NY, CAMBA, Public Health Solutions, Mount Vernon Neighborhood Health Center, and Sun River Health.