“What is now proved was once only imagined.” – William Blake
The biggest misconception about innovation is that it’s about ideas. It’s not. It’s about solving problems. Problem-solving is the greatest enabler for growth and opportunity, which is why we introduced the Board Innovation Grant Program in 2018.
Funded by our dedicated and generous Board of Directors, this initiative gives our staff a chance to implement ideas to solve evolving needs in our community. As a human services agency that aims to serve people of all ages and abilities in the borough of Queens and beyond, we embrace the responsibility of providing unique resources to members of our neighborhoods who need us the most. We’re incredibly excited to announce the winners of this year’s grants, and even more excited to see the impact that these programs will make in the months and years to come.
First, we want to recap our inaugural year of innovative programs:
- Our Early Childhood department in Little Neck introduced a Learning English for Success program, teaching family members of our Nursery School students how to speak and interact in English. This program was led by an ESL tutor who worked with a group of 20 parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles, twice a week over the course of four months. Sessions were split up between English lessons and family members entering our classrooms to interact with students.
- Our Adult Workforce, Youth Workforce and High School and College Success departments came together to introduce a Management and Leadership Development Program for Commonpoint Queens staff. A group of 20 staff applied for the program, which was led by a professional development firm that specializes in a broad range of consulting services supporting organizational change and growth. The program was made up of ten, four-hour sessions covering everything from time management to communication efficiency, and allowed our agency’s future leaders to collaborate and learn about each other’s unique experiences in different departments.
- And last but certainly not least, our Health and Wellness Department is in the process of building a Kid Fit Gym at the Sam Field Center. The goal of the new gym is to provide an opportunity for children ages 6 years and older to participate in fitness programming that will support a healthy lifestyle, improve self-esteem, and mitigate child obesity, amongst other benefits. The gym is set to open in the fall!
On to this year’s winners. Congratulations to the following departments and programs, we can’t wait to make these resources available to our community!
Youth Education Services (After School Programs) – Media Arts Center
With a full-blown media center, after school students in Little Neck, Forest Hills and at our 20-plus sites across the borough of Queens will be able to expand their interests in journalism, video making and editing, coding, podcasting, photography, graphic design and more. The center will include video cameras, recording equipment, laptops, tablets, design software, and lighting/staging equipment in a devoted space. This technology will also give us opportunities to host virtual classes and allow students to receive homework help, no matter their location.
Programs for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities – Pool Club Towel Service
We will be offering a vocational training program for young adults and adults with disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorder. This new program will provide valuable life skills and job training that will prepare participants for employment prospects in line with their strengths. Responding to the severe lack of pre-vocational and transitional services for young adults and adults with autism and other disabilities, the program is also a social entrepreneurship opportunity that we believe will be capable of growing into a sustainable business, following this initial investment, which will then continue to employ individuals with disabilities, and provide ongoing training, coaching and support. The Pool Towel Service will support members at our pool clubs, as well as our day camps at these clubs.
We can’t wait to share the success of these programs with our community!