Huffpost New York

Giving Back: How You And The New York Community Can Help Struggling Families

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Today, as HuffPost and AOL unite to launch the Huffington Post Media Group, we're celebrating by making a statement about the importance of giving back and helping others.

Led by HuffPost Impact –- The Huffington Post's section devoted to service, causes, and volunteering -- every HuffPost section is featuring a group or individual who is taking action and inspiring others during these pressing times. Like the rest of the world, our hearts and minds are also focused on Japan, and we've created a resource page for everyone wishing to support the emergency relief efforts.

Additionally, we're thrilled to announce that Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, is joining the Huffington Post Media Group as Strategic Adviser For Social Impact. Stone will help the company to create innovative social impact and cause-based initiatives.

AOL/Huffington Post Media Group has also issued a 30-day Service Challenge to every one of its employees worldwide, encouraging them to give their time to charities in their local communities and organizing volunteer events in 16 cities.

We hope you'll join us in utilizing the power of online journalism to help people get involved, work together, and bring about real change.

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Elevate NY is a Bronx-based organization that helps at risk youth from disadvantaged families and those which find themselves in even tougher conditions than before because of the great recession.

The organization provides the students of the Banana Kelly High School in the Bronx with classes on leadership, vision, and career possibilities; it offers long-term mentoring and recreational programs where the students bond with their mentors over trips such as hiking in Vermont.

Elevate NY also organizes meetings with people of accomplishment such as CEOs, civic leaders, and musicians - including Lady Gaga’s violinist, Judy Kang (picture above), all of whom provide role models and inspiration for the young adults.

“Kids are all like Polaroid film,” said Kevin Singleton, Elevate NY’s CEO and founder and full-time teacher. “You find out what you really have, when you give students exposure to things that are outside of their daily experience.”

The Bronx organization started its programs in the fall 2010 and so far has taught more than 220 hours of leadership classes at the Banana Kelly High School and 90 hours of after-school mentoring, involving 52 kids in its programs. The curriculum, modeled on the Colorado Uplift program, has a 30-year track record in Denver schools.

Two Bronx elementary schools, PS179 and PS369, have also accepted the Elevate NY program, but the courses haven’t been activated yet for lack of funding.

“I’ve got one teacher who was training with me back in 2009, whom I can’t hire, and then I have a lady who is a part-time teacher who could be a full-time teacher, if we had the money,” Singleton said. “We’d love to make an impact in more kids’ lives.”

You can support Elevate NY by donating money here so that the program can expand. You can also volunteer as a speaker or invite students to your workplace to expose your career to them. And the board of directors, which currently has only five people, would welcome new members.

If you would like to know more about Elevate NY, visit their website at www.elevatenewyork.org

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Elevate New York