Annual Report 2022
A message from our CEO
With your support, University Settlement builds stronger communities in partnership with 40,000 New Yorkers on the Lower East Side and in Brooklyn every year.
Our programs ensure that our neighbors of all ages, from babies to elders, have everything they need to thrive: food, education, mental health care, the arts, belonging, self-determination, and more.
And because we are a settlement house, our programs don’t exist in isolation – they’re coordinated and integrated to engage the whole person, the whole family, and the whole neighborhood.
We believe that every one of us should have a safe and vibrant city where we can create good lives. That’s why University Settlement is a Place to Grow.
In every interaction we have with our neighbors – every counseling session, every ballroom dance class, every housing court appearance, every language lesson, every voter registration drive – we are building on strengths and supporting growth.
At University Settlement, as in the world, growth means many things. Our children grow by learning, and our neighborhoods grow, too, when they become more inclusive and more resilient. Our organization grows when we build our capacity and measurable impact. And our participants and staff grow in their lives with us, too.
All these types of growth help us build stronger neighborhoods – as does your support. Thank you for your commitment to our communities, and for helping us grow.
Read Less −
Can’t play this video?
UNIVERSITY SETTLEMENT IS A PLACE WHERE…
Young people discover new ideas and new ambitions
“Our after-school programs partner with organizations like BioBus to bring trained scientists and educators with backgrounds in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) into our communities. We’re trying to expose our young people to new ideas, hoping that they’ll get excited and want to learn more - and even consider careers in STEM. It makes science accessible and fun, something to look forward to.” — Greg Robertson, Senior Director, Youth & Community Programs, Manhattan
People living with cancer grow through creative expression
“We organize regular trips to NYC cultural institutions, including the New Museum, that include educator-led tours and on-site art-making workshops. As you age in New York, it can be difficult to connect with people and find social opportunities that still engage you in your passions. Viewing art in person together can be powerfully communal. Our participants are interested in complex ideas and looking for opportunities to have conversations about challenging topics, and to relate these ideas back to their own art-making. It provides a positive distraction from their own experiences of illness, and that can be very powerful.” — Liz Rubel, Hospital Artist-In-Residence Program Manager, and Programs & Partnerships Coordinator, The Creative Center @ University Settlement
Data shapes decision-making and makes programs more efficient and effective
“Our vision for data at the Settlement is to continue building a culture of measurement and evaluation. In our Early Childhood Education programs, ensuring that children will be prepared for long-term academic, social, and emotional success is one of our primary goals. Recently, our assessments identified that children in our programs were not doing as well as we’d like on a certain dimension of social-emotional learning. We invited the creators of that assessment to come in and conduct a two-day training with our teachers to better support that area of development, and when we measured our children’s scores again, they improved.” — Angelica Bravo, Director of Data, Evaluation, and Learning
A 21st Century Settlement House
A place where children, families, elders, students, parents, immigrants, artists, activists, athletes, caregivers, educators, leaders, communities, and New Yorkers grow.
Established in 1886 as the first Settlement House in the United States, we bring the values of that movement into the 21st century by:
- Fighting poverty and systemic inequality with responsive programs
- Engaging all members of the community from newborns to elders;
- Joyfully nurturing the whole person by addressing basic needs
including food, education, culture, learning, and community.
meals were delivered to homebound elders.
adults learned English and NYC civics through our Adult Literacy program —and 68 learned how to use a library card.
children and young people participated in our after-school programs.
young people received comprehensive academic and college access support through College Passport.
patients received arts instruction at their hospital beds through The Creative Center.
children and adults received mental healthcare.
Stories from FY22
A place where…
Children grow more independent, and where parents build powerful connections
Read More +
In 2022, our Early Head Start teams in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn partnered with more than 300 families. These relationships can include home visits for expecting parents and young infants, parent-child socialization groups that provide families with space to build relationships with one another, full-day infant-toddler classrooms, and family support specialists who help make connections to external resources.
“Every child is very important. Although it can seem like a family has no influence and power, if every family has the resources or knows where to find the resources they need, they can live well in their families, and society as a whole benefits.” — Hsiao-Han “Zoe” Proano Celi, Assistant Director, Early Head Start
Ying has two daughters in EHS:
I found University Settlement during COVID. I had both my children in the middle of the pandemic, and I realized I was experiencing signs of postpartum blues. In lockdown, I was in a very closed environment, having to stay at home, and my emotions were quite unstable. I was even having problems communicating with my husband.
When I first found EHS, I was immediately impressed by the online activities, such as the parents’ exchange meeting. Through the program, I had the opportunity to chat with new people every week or even every month, and gradually we got along like friends. The moms would share thoughts and experiences with one another, and suddenly my life was opening up – I didn’t only have my husband to talk to, children and family was not all I had. I had new faces to meet, and it was a good opportunity to relieve my anxious mood.
Before my children started coming to University Settlement, they spent most of their time in contact with their parents and family members. Transitioning into this program has been good for my daughters – they’ve had to adjust to participating in classes, experiencing a relatively unfamiliar environment, learning how to accept and adapt and how to meet new people. They are learning how to follow rules, listen to teachers’ instructions, and how to get along with other children, while meeting friends and building social skills.
I think it’s a good learning process for them. I can feel that my two daughters are more independent – they rely on us less at home. When they have problems when they are playing with toys, now they don’t come to us directly, but think about what to do by themselves first.
I am not a professional teacher, and I know that my ability to teach my children is limited. Sending my children here is helping them grow.
I have to work regularly, and when I leave my children with EHS, I don’t have to worry that bad things will happen, because the staff here are so experienced and professional. Everyone here is working really hard to create a loving, responsible, safe place for kids.“Every child is very important. Although it can seem like a family has no influence and power, if every family has the resources or knows where to find the resources they need, they can live well in their families, and society as a whole benefits.” — Hsiao-Han “Zoe” Proano Celi, Assistant Director, Early Head Start
Read Less −
A place where…
New Yorkers grow older with dignity and security
Read More +
Wellness Together improves quality of life in partnership with adults over 60 on the Lower East Side and Chinatown. In 2022, we engaged more than 100 of our neighbors who are homebound for health reasons, or because they are caregivers, with culturally sensitive lifestyle and mental health supports calibrated to their current situations.
“Our team is empowered by the belief that older people are not a burden – like all of us, our older neighbors have lots of potential and contributions to make.” — Bing Ji, Director, Wellness Together
Wellness Together participant Charles F. shares his experience of the program:
Sonia is the social worker I work with, and she helps me get through bureaucracy and issues with my landlord. It becomes daunting and repetitive, trying to get things done the way they need to be done through bureaucracy. She takes some grief off me, so I can take care of other stuff – like, she helped me find a ride to all my medical appointments, because riding on the bus can be painful, especially if I have to stand.
And my landlord – I’m fighting with my landlord just to have the heat turned on right. He would love me out of here, he could get a lot more money if I wasn’t here. Having an advocate like Sonia is incredibly valuable in that situation. When the landlord does some things, it’s nice to have a buffer, someone who can deal with him.
We also just talk about how I’m doing. And I’m also in touch with a volunteer, Michael, who calls me once a week. He’s a very nice guy, extremely smart. And it’s nice to have him check up with me. After our conversations, he always asks if there’s anything I’d like him to take back to the team.
If I wasn’t in touch with your organization, my life would be more hectic. I would feel a bit less security.
All the help I’ve gotten with University Settlement has been extraordinary. I have people who I can count on. It’s the kind of thing humanity needs.
Read Less −
A place where…
The newest New Yorkers can begin again
Read More +
Navigating city and state systems to access needed assistance or avoid legal jeopardy can often be challenging, even for native New Yorkers. People who have personally experienced these bureaucracies— from the juvenile justice system, to the mental health and health care systems, to the public schools —have valuable expertise to share with people who are first making contact with these systems. Family and Youth Peer Support services, our newest program, engages young people who are trying to navigate New York’s social safety net, alongside their families.
In 2022, our Family Advocate Michelle Tirado partnered with 190 families seeking asylum in the United States:
It’s so hard to come to a new country, you have nothing. Many of these people seeking asylum were abused and tortured in their own country. They’ve made huge sacrifices, leaving behind families and support systems in search of a better life. Then they arrive in New York and they have to navigate the language barrier and they don’t know where to start to get back on their feet.
I see people as people. Where you come from doesn’t matter, we are all human. Asylum seekers don’t make their choices lightly, and they’ve been on a very difficult road just to get here.
In my engagements with families, we set a goal. In many cases that goal is “be able to navigate systems independently.” And I work with them until they can. We start by getting them cash assistance, getting access to Medicaid, getting food stamps so they can feed their families.
I have an 11-year-old son who has ADHD and autism. His teachers couldn’t handle him, he had very bad behavior issues and anxiety, his language was regressing, and I had to find him new schools. NYC public schools wanted to leave him in a regular school setting, but he would run out of the classroom. I had to find special education schools for my child.
My experience figuring out a pathway to get effective care for my son through these systems on my own is what prepared me to be a family and peer advocate. And it illustrates why advocates who have lived experience are so vital for families.
This is difficult work, and sometimes when I sit with families and hear their stories, it brings up some of my own trauma. But I sit, calm myself, and remind myself that I am blessed to be in my situation – and that when I had to first interact with these systems, I didn’t have anyone. If I can be their support system, that’s what motivates me. I have grown a lot as a woman and a mother in a year of working with these families.
Read Less −
We follow our neighbors’ lead
Since 1886, we’ve been listening to the people in our communities and responding to their priorities. As our understanding evolves, so do our programs.
A comprehensive response to the mental health crisis for young children and families
Children and families in our neighborhoods experienced significant trauma during the pandemic, resulting in a complex and wide-reaching mental health crisis. In response, our early childhood mental health program Butterflies sought and received the largest single year private gift in University Settlement’s history from Robin Hood. The grant enabled us to rapidly expand our crisis services and establish a robust Medicaid billing infrastructure while partnering with the Yale Child Study Center to further integrate mental health supports into our early childhood classrooms.
Building relationships and people power in Chinatown and the Lower East Side
After years of isolation, and with violence and harassment targeting our AAPI neighbors on the rise, our neighbors were telling us that our community connections and spaces needed some love. In response, we convened a weekly summer festival aimed at revitalizing relationships and bringing activities for children, families, and adults back into Sara D Roosevelt Park. ROAR: Rejoice! Organize! Activate! Reclaim! presented more than 200 hours of free community-building programming – all of which was available in Cantonese, Mandarin, English, and Spanish.
Creating a new model of community mental health support
For many of our neighbors, mental healthcare is difficult to find and even more difficult to afford. In 2022 we expanded Families Thriving, our program offering approachable mental health and wellness supports that meet people where they are, into 11 additional schools in Lower Manhattan’s District 1, making its services available to 2,675 additional students thanks to support from Trinity Church Wall Street. It’s a path-breaking collaboration between a community-based organization, a school district, and a philanthropy that we hope will serve as a national model for quickly making a difference in the well-being of a community.
We fight poverty and systemic inequality by engaging our neighbors of all ages, from newborns to elders, with innovative, responsive programs that address basic needs while facilitating culture, learning, and community.
We supported 600 young children and their families with a spectrum of education and care services including center-based learning, neighborhood-based family childcare, and home-based assistance.
We create safe, fun, purpose-driven environments for more than 3,000 youth annually. Our afterschool, summer camp, and college access programs are rooted in positive youth development and social-emotional learning models that build students’ self-awareness, self-expression, and leadership skills.
We engage over 1,100 low-income seniors annually through a network of services including meals, health, wellness, recreational activities, case assistance and management, housing counseling, and referral resources.
Mental Health + Wellness
Nearly 1,900 people receive high-quality mental healthcare from our culturally sensitive professionals every year, helping individuals and families in our communities navigate the challenges life can present.
We strategically engage our representatives on issues including access to safe housing, healthcare, and quality education. Through advocacy, we aim to secure access to resources for thousands of our neighbors, and support policies that empower New Yorkers to achieve healthy, stable, and remarkable lives.
We combat homelessness by partnering with our neighbors to identify financial problems and solve them before they lead to eviction; in a typical year, more than 1,500 New Yorkers are more stably housed thanks to Project Home.
Art helps build healthy communities and we engage thousands of our neighbors with two distinct arts programs: The Creative Center, which brings art’s healing power into healthcare settings; and The Performance Project, which fosters collaboration between professional artists and low-income New Yorkers.
ADULT ENGLISH CLASSES
350+ low-income, adult immigrants in NYC participate in our comprehensive 10-month English and civic education program annually — building language and systems literacy skills to navigate life in our complex city, support their families, and achieve their goals.
Our budget in FY22 was $44 million.
How our budget breaks down by program
how we’re funded
Charity Navigator names University Settlement as a Four-Star Charity — their highest rating — based on our financial stability, efficiency, sustainability, and our commitment to strong governance practices and policies.
The donors listed below made gifts or provided funding to University Settlement during the 2022 fiscal year: July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022.
- NYC Administration for Children’s Services
- NYC Department for the Aging
- NYC Department of Cultural Affairs
- NYC Department of Education
- NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
- NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development
- NYC Department of Youth and Community Development
- NYC Housing Authority
- NYC Department of Social Services
- NYS Council on he Arts
- NYS Department of Health
- NYS Department of State
- NYS Division of Homes and Community Renewal
- NYS Education Department
- NYS Office for the Aging
- NYS Office of Children and Family Services
- NYS Office of Mental Health
- NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance
- US Department of Agriculture
- US Department of Health and Human Services
- US Federal Emergency Management Assistance
- US National Endowment for the Arts
- NYS Representative Harvey Epstein
- NYS Representative Yuh-Line Niou
- NYS Representative Inez Barron
- NYS Senator Brian Kavanagh
- NYC Council Member Carlina Rivera
- NYC Council Member Margaret Chin
- NYC Council Member Laurie Cumbo
- NYC Council Member Brad Lander
- Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer
Board of Directors
Vice President for Programs
Ken Joseph, Esq.
Board of Directors
Vice President for Programs
Ken Joseph, Esq.