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Pastor Edwin Malave had invested his life savings into starting a Christian bookstore and cafe at the front of his church.  Sandy hit a month before he was supposed to open.  With flood waters reaching five feet, all the appliances and equipment he had purchased were destroyed.  Instead of abandoning the space altogether, Pastor Malave turned the would-be-cafe into a food pantry, and is now distributing donated foods to 200 families every day. 

A grant from Robin Hood covers Pastor Malave’s costs for three months.  He’s building new relationships with foundations, so the food pantry can become a permanent resource for families in Coney Island. 

Learn more about our Sandy Relief efforts.

Today marks the second anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. While for some this devastating storm is now a bad memory, for too many Sandy is still very present in their every day as they struggle to rebuild their homes and their lives.

At the time Hurricane Sandy hit New York City, Robin Hood and Columbia University were teaming up to launch the Poverty Tracker, an ambitious multi-year study tracking the dynamics of poverty and disadvantage. Latest data from our survey reveals that New Yorkers affected by Hurricane Sandy were not a random sample of the population. Those already suffering significant challenges were more likely to be negatively affected by the storm—they lost their jobs, homes and possessions and experienced physical injury to themselves or their families.

We also discovered that New Yorkers who were hit hard by the storm remained vulnerable long after the storm had passed. Almost half of those affected had a chance of experiencing hardship in the following year.

For more detailed results, please read the full report here.

As new data continues to come in, we will continue to monitor how these groups (and others) fare over time.

Last week some of our staff attended an event in Union Beach, NJ to celebrate the opening of two new homes built for families who lost their residence during Hurricane Sandy

Out of the 2,400 houses that make up the 1.8 square mile borough of Union Beach over 85% of the homes were flooded with at least two feet of water. 

The rebuilding of these homes was funded as part of the Union Beach Project, which aimed to return families to durable, storm-resilient modular homes via a cost-effective, demolition-to-reconstruction model.

Our grant of $770,000 helped outfit newly built homes with key appliances including washers, dryers and refrigerators. In partnership with the NJ Relief Fund the Union Beach Project will provide modular homes for 15 Union Beach families.

Since 2003, Robin Hood has been investing in programs to encourage entrepreneurship among low-income populations.  Currently, we invest around $1.4 million annually to the two leading microfinance organizations in the country – Accion USA and Grameen America – to provide microloans to approximately 6,500 small-business owners and entrepreneurs in New York City.

Today, we had the opportunity to visit Accion and learn about the loan application process from one of their loan officers.

Accion is different from a bank or credit union in that it empowers low-to-moderate income business owners by offering access to capital and financial education that they otherwise would not have. These small business owners, many without a proven track record in business or limited or poor credit history, would be considered ineligible for a loan from a bank.  Accion provides these individuals business loans ranging from $500 up to $50,000 along with crucial financial education to help them succeed. And crucially, by doing so, Accion steers these individuals away from predatory lenders that charge exorbitant interest rates or fees for access to capital.

Accion has seen many success stories across NYC, from a woman who started a beauty school and salon in Queens, to a man who leveraged his 15 years of work with the second largest commercial cleaning franchise in the world to start his own firm that serves clients in Brooklyn and Queens. Recently, with funding from Robin Hood’s Relief Fund, Accion has been making loans to small businesses negatively impacted by Hurricane Sandy. By offering low interest rates of 4.99% along with small grants, these business owners have been able to get back on their feet and provide services that their communities rely on. One such entrepreneur, a neighborhood bodega owner in Brooklyn, lost his inventory when the flood waters filled his store. With his loan from Accion, he was able to stock his shelves, get his store back up and running, and serve a community torn apart by the Hurricane.

We are proud to partner with Accion and the entrepreneurs who are creating better opportunities for themselves, their families and their communities. 

The Workers Justice Project (WJP) helps immigrant day laborers find jobs, cleaning and rebuilding all along the coastline devastated by Hurricane Sandy. 

The storm ripped WJP’s own office – a small, one-room structure – from its foundation.  With Robin Hood funding, though, WJP now has an expanded and more resilient home base.  From here, they can better reach out to laborers across Brooklyn, train them on workplace hazards and wage laws, provide them protective equipment, and connect them to employers and families rebuilding in New York and Long Island.

When Will Platt’s, Physical Science class at Clay Middle School in Caramel, Indiana began a unit on Roller Coasters, he decided one morning to wear a t-shirt that pictured the remains of the destroyed Jet Star roller coaster from the Jersey Shore. Little did he realize, this visual statement happened to coincide with the one year anniversary of Super Storm Sandy that devastated the East coast. 

While the news channels were recapping the damage caused, his fellow students felt a new “connection” that was not realized until this year. This began a discussion of the current conditions of the areas affected and those still, one year later, in need of repair.  The students wanted to help and got excited about the potential to raise money to aid relief efforts of Sandy.  With the cooperation of the entire Science Department at Clay Middle School, work began to start a fundraising a campaign which raised money to send to Robin Hood to distribute as part of our Sandy Relief efforts. 

Over the next few months, through various fundraising efforts, Clay Middle School raised more than 4,000 dollars for the victims of Super Storm Sandy.

Everyone at Robin Hood was so moved by the spirit of these middle school students and the generosity of a community more than 700 miles from those areas impacted by the storm. To show our appreciation we sent the school a package of Robin Hood felt hats and a thank you card signed by all of our staff members.

Recently, the staff at the school decided to have a special lunch for the students, bringing in community representatives, including one of the local channel 13 news anchors, a former Olympian, the Mayor of the City, and others, to “give a voice” to the card.  At the concussion of the lunch, the Principal presented a framed display of the card for permanent display in their hallways.

These students are really making some noise not just for this cause but also for the idea of charity in general. Charitable children hopefully grow into charitable adults and surely, society could benefit from more of them.

Thank you to all of the Clay Middle School students and staff for continuing to help your friends in New York and New Jersey as they rebuild their homes, their communities and their lives.  

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As the New York City Economic Development Corporation (E.D.C.) completed its work with the rebuilding of the Coney Island amusement park and the MCU stadium, it helped form a business group, the Alliance for Coney Island.  Now, this group is teaming up with other programs in the community, like Coney Island Hospital, the Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island and the Astella Development Corporation, to create a new agency to aid in the recovery: Coney Recovers. The organization hopes to combine business development with community development. With a $25,000 grant from Robin Hood’s relief fund, its first project is the creation of Coney Corps, a workforce development initiative focused on training residents of the community in the various skills needed for the cleanup effort and then to placing them in the areas that most need their help. We believe that Coney Recovers is one of those magical stories that comes out of adversity.

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Last week we honored Hometown Heroes as one of the 2013 Robin Hood Heroes.

When Robin Hood witnessed the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy across the tri-state area, we knew we needed to extend our hand beyond New York City.

Hometown Heroes were honored for their extraordinary efforts in helping residents of New Jersey rebuild and recover from the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy. They have helped thousands of Garden State residents by distributing funds to provide rental assistance, home repair payments, and furniture. Hometown Heroes was so effective, they were chosen to lead New Jersey’s “Restore the Shore” campaign. Eric Katz, who received funding from Hometown Heroes to rebuild his home following Sandy, accepted the award on Hometown Heroes’ behalf.

Robin Hood 2013 Heroes

Today we honored four organizations for their incredible efforts to help lift up low income New Yorkers.  

Follow the links below to learn more about their work:

Hometown Heroes was honored for its extraordinary efforts in helping residents of New Jersey rebuild and recover from the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy.

The Center for Court Innovation (CCI) was honored for creating a number of innovative programs designed to reduce recidivism and help people get their lives back on track. One of their more successful programs, The Red Hook Community Justice Center, was spotlighted for their success.

The Restaurant Opportunity Center was founded after September 11, 2001 by surviving restaurant workers from Windows on the World. Today, the center is improving working conditions for thousands of the nation’s low-wage restaurant workforce nationwide.

Success Academy Charter Schools Starting from one Harlem school serving 165 students in kindergarten and first grade, the Success network has now grown to serve 6,700 scholars in 18 elementary schools and 4 middle schools.

Additional Sandy Relief Grants

More than 15 months after Sandy we find ourselves still very much in this work. With the receipt of additional donations over the past several months, Robin Hood’s Relief Committee recently approved more than $1.2 million in grants. All the grants are to organizations we have funded previously.  All have been working to help those still suffering because of Sandy. We remain inspired by both the efforts of these providers and that so many donors have kept Sandy as a priority. 

These grants fall into two categories, housing or legal counseling.  Housing continues be an on-going need. And with many just now receiving insurance payments, with contractor issues mounting and with regulations around government dollars changing, there is still a large need for legal support. 

We continue to extend our thanks for the dedication and commitment of individuals and organizations—working together—to help their neighbors in need.

To learn more about our continued Relief work, visit our website.

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In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the food banks in New Jersey have organized themselves to ensure that all are well supplied.  Excess goods are being shared so that the towns along the Jersey Shore have food despite an enormous increase in demand:  on average, food banks are reporting a doubling or tripling of demand.  One food pantry has increased its hours from four a week to 35 a week.

 

The Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties has distributed food for more than 1 million meals since Hurricane Sandy struck. In addition, a small army of volunteers has worked 7 days a week to sort donations so they can distribute food to the areas that need it the most, as quickly as possible.

 

In response to this increase, Robin Hood’s funding of $715,000 has helped to provide additional food, increase the number of outreach workers and position the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties as the anchor for Single Stop in the communities it serves. Additionally, because they have an established network of 14 local food groups, the food bank is equipped to pass through additional funds from Robin Hood to these smaller groups who are struggling to keep their communities fed.

Adam Marlatt, the founder and president of Global Disaster Immediate Response Team (DIRT), one of our grantees, was honored by the White House for Global D.I.R.T’s heroic contributions to relief efforts in response to Hurricane Sandy.

Quickly identifying communication as the primary issue to address, Global D.I.R.T. developed a web-based application that allowed National Guard soldiers to collect valuable field data on resident needs. “Through funding with The Robin Hood Foundation we scaled the project up and were able to complete over 140,000 home visits, collecting critical needs data,” said Marlatt in his post on the White House blog. The results allowed for resident evacuations to temporary housing, coordination of food and supply deliveries and rapid restoring of vital utilities.

Marlatt was honored as a White House Champion of Change, an award given to ordinary Americans doing extraordinary things in their communities.

We’re pleased to learn that the NBC halftime broadcast of tomorrow’s Notre Dame vs. Rice University college football game (3:30 PM EST) will feature a unique story. Tune in to learn about the architect who designed the Robin Hood funded, hurricane resilient housing implemented in Union Beach after Hurricane Sandy.

12-12-12 wasn’t the only event that made music for Robin Hood’s Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund.

Recently, the Gregorian Family, consisting of Ara Gregorian Resnick (Violin), Alicia Gregorian Sawyers (Cello), Ani Gregorian (Violin) and Tom Sauer (Piano), put their prowess in classical music to work holding two private concerts at the Sohotel Artspace Gallery in lower Manhattan. With decades of classical music experience among them, the family together performed works by the likes of Bach, Rachmaninoff, Piazolla, Gregorian, Dvorak and Moszkowski and raised over $7,500 in donations to help families and individuals devastated by Hurricane Sandy. The Gallery, dedicated to increasing awareness for European artists in America, was filled with young music students, many studying under Ani, and their parents who came out to do their part to help their neighbors recover from the storm. 

Thanks to the Gregorian Family and all those who attended for helping to make our community a better place!