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Kym Hardy Watson, the first Black woman to helm Graham Windham in its 215-year history, shares her journey.
(November 29, 2021)
MSNBC -As Watson continues her longtime commitment to center the voices of youngsters and families, she has a bold vision for Graham Windham’s future. It encompasses everything from amplifying their presence in local communities, to working with fellow advocates in New York City to create an inclusive, unbiased approach to helping families keep children safe. A major goal is dismantling racism in the child welfare system so it’s more racially inclusive and socially responsible.
(September 24, 2021)
HARPER’S BAZAAR -Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan paid a visit to the central Harlem elementary school for an outdoor reading event where Meghan read from her debut children’s book, The Bench. The Sussexes were joined by New York City Public Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter for the visit, meant to highlight the school’s initiatives and to promote early literacy in young students.
BAZAAR can confirm the couple also left a donation of vegetable and herb planters for the school, in response to a need for easier access to fresh and healthy food in the community. The pair also partnered with Proctor & Gamble to stock P.S. 123’s pantry with free-of-cost products to help families take care of their personal health and hygiene and maintain clean and healthy homes. Meghan also personally donated reading nooks to Graham Windham non-profit locations across New York City to support families’ access to books and encourage at home reading.
Fair Futures will receive $20 million for this fiscal year and baselined funding for the future.
(July 6, 2021)
Kay Dervishi, NYNMEDIA -New York City’s recently passed budget includes increased funding for a mentorship program for foster youth, with $20 million allocated for this fiscal year and $12 million to continue funding it in subsequent years.
The Fair Futures initiative, which provides life coaches to support foster youth, launched in 2019 with $10 million in funding. The program was nearly dropped last year as a result of budget constraints brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic before being allocated $2.7 million in the budget, though the city Administration for Children’s Services managed to find about $9 million to keep it afloat.
(April 9, 2021)
Greg Berman, NYNMEDIA -Graham Windham is one of the oldest social service agencies in New York City, dating back to its founding in 1806 by a group of women that included Eliza Hamilton, the widow of Alexander Hamilton. The agency made history again just a few weeks ago when it announced that Kym Hardy Watson would be its new president and CEO. Kym is the first woman of color to lead Graham Windham in the agency’s 215-year history.
In her new role, Kym will be assuming responsibility for a staff of several hundred people providing services to children and families at multiple locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx. She brings several decades of experience to the task, beginning as a case worker in the 1980s and including her recent service as Graham’s chief operating officer.
I recently talked to Kym about her new job, the challenges of being an internal hire, and some of the life experiences that distinguish her from previous leaders at Graham Windham.
(April 2, 2021)
THE HILL – In America, child poverty is a chronic problem. Nearly 11 million children in America are poor. That’s 1 in 7 kids. The majority of these children are Black and brown. The grip of poverty is unrelenting — and the more families grow closer to the brink of crisis, the more likely their children are to come into contact with the foster care system like my siblings and I. I’ve seen it in both my personal and professional life — poverty is too often conflated with neglect. If families simply had the financial means to care for their children how they want to, we could circumvent thousands of families entering the child welfare system. Read more ►
(March 26, 2021)
Watch the segment ►
As public school enrollment plummets citywide, hard-hit West Harlem schools work to support students
(March 12, 2021)
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, schools across the nation were forced to reconfigure established modes of education. The choices of New York City’s public schools—the largest school district in the nation—reverberate throughout the lives of over one million students; the effects of these decisions most severely impact traditionally disadvantaged communities.
Graham Windham, a nonprofit that assists children and families, has also stepped in to alleviate the disproportionate challenges that West Harlem students are facing. Based in the Manhattanville Community Center, Graham Windham’s West Harlem after-school program has partnered with the Department of Education through the DOE’s new Learning Bridges program. Read more ►
(February 17, 2021)
NEW YORK, NY — Graham Windham, one of the oldest and most innovative child caring and family service organizations in the United States, has named Kimberly “Kym” Hardy Watson as its new President & CEO, the organization announced today.
Ms. Watson has over three decades of experience working directly with New York families, most recently serving as the Chief Operating Officer at Graham Windham. Today’s announcement marks a historic moment in the institution’s 215-year history as an African American woman takes the helm for the first time. Ms. Watson will start as President in March, and as CEO later this year with a bold vision for expanding Graham’s presence in local communities and working with other leaders in NYC to create an inclusive, unbiased approach to helping families keep their children safe, dismantling racism in the child welfare system.” Read more ►
Residents say youth programming is essential for violence prevention. In the wake of COVID-19, the dire need for more funding has been exposed
(February 11, 2021)
Despite community leaders’ requests to improve safety measures in Morningside Park, residents have long advocated for youth programming in an attempt to prevent community violence.
“Both locally and city-wide, we think that there are tremendous opportunities to see our young people not as potential violent criminals, but as young people who need to be engaged and can be a great service to their city,” Jess Dannhauser explained. Dannhauser is the CEO of Graham Windham, a nonprofit that assists children and families.
Not only does strong youth programming give children and young adults something productive to do with their free time, but it also provides emotional support for those who might not have a strong support system at home. Read more ►
(January 28, 2021)
At a virtual rally on January 22, advocates and city lawmakers called on de Blasio to provide $20 million in baseline funding to keep the program going.
“If it’s not baselined this year, the city could leave thousands of young people high and dry without support,” said youth advocate Ericka Francois. “Having the support of an adult sticking behind you and connecting you to the resources you need can change lives.”
Jess Dannhauser, President and Chief Executive Officer of Graham Windham, said the city’s previous budget allocation for the program allowed for 300 fully trained staff members citywide in just a year’s time. “We cannot stop now,” he said. “No young person should lose the support and opportunity that comes with Fair Futures. Mayor de Blasio, please baseline $20 million in the executive budget. Your commitment to our young people will be an enduring legacy.” Read more ►
(January 19, 2021)
New initiatives to serve over 13,000 young New Yorkers with employment, training, and education support in the face of economic downturn
Newly released Disconnected Youth Task Force report provides a long-term strategy to keep them on a path towards economic and career success
“NYC’s young people are its greatest asset. Their strength has been on full display this past year as they have navigated this pandemic that has upended many of their lives. In this challenging year, our young people have served their communities and bravely called for justice. They have worked in essential jobs and continued towards their academic dreams. We applaud the City’s cross-agency initiatives to provide 12,700 young people with the support and opportunity they need and deserve,” said Jess Dannhauser, President & CEO of Graham Windham. “We are certain it will be a most worthwhile investment. As we begin to turn the corner on the pandemic, we encourage the City to continue to scale holistic academic, career and service opportunities for hundreds of thousands of young people. Let’s put them at the center of our City’s revitalization. Their future and the future of our City as an equitable and prosperous place for all New Yorkers depend on it.” Read more ►
(October 26, 2020)
New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services is launching a pilot program to expand the use of parent advocates who have experience dealing with the foster care system and can support mentor parents whose children are currently in foster care.
The “Parents Supporting Parents” initiative will be launched at two nonprofits, Graham Windham and Rising Ground, which will each include parent advocates in their foster care case planning teams. Parent advocates will be able to help parents understand how family court works, to provide emotional support and other practical support throughout the process. Rise, an advocacy organization which focuses on supporting parents involved with the child welfare system, will provide training and coaching to advocates as well. Read more ►
(August 10, 2020)
Eliza Hamilton’s orphanage is expanding in Downtown Brooklyn. The family services agency Graham Windham has signed a 6,000-square-foot lease at 25 Chapel St., brokerage Transwestern Real Estate Services announced Monday.
…[The] new Downtown Brooklyn location will focus on providing critical preventative services. The office layout will have workspaces that meet social distancing requirements and a technology infrastructure to allow people to work remotely. Read more ►
(July 14, 2020)
Plans to close the 214-year-old program, which was formerly the Eliza Hamilton orphanage featured in the live-action play “Hamilton,” has been in the works for about a year, but the pandemic sped up the plans, CEO Jess Dannhauser said.
“This decision comes as a result of a combination of good public policy to serve more children in families and near home, not-so-good public policy that has devalued the extraordinary staff that do this work, financial challenges and a strategic decision on our part to focus more of our efforts on community-based help to families,” Dannhauser said. Read more ►
NYC program that provides coaches to foster youth sees budget slashed, then restored in tumultuous week
(July 6, 2020)
“It’s extraordinary,” said Jess Dannhauser, the CEO of Graham Windham, a foster care agency and member of the coalition that pushed for the city to fund Fair Futures program. “It’s a miracle, after the budget was finalized.” The surprising reversal caps months of frantic advocacy to save the program, which supporters say is a lifeline for young people transitioning out of foster care into adult life. Read more ►
(June 30, 2020)
Eliza Hamilton poured her energy into founding a free school and an orphanage in New York to help children in need. Read more ►
(May 8, 2020)
“[The] majority of the families in this community live either at or below the poverty line. We live in what most people will consider a food desert with not a lot of access to fresh produce food,” Rosa said.
Rosa and Graham Windham’s CEO Jess Dannhauser are calling on the mayor to lift the restrictions to all Department of Youth and Community Development funded summer camps in the city by allowing kids a safe place to go this summer.
But, if that doesn’t happen, they’re willing to foot the bill. Read more ►
(February 10, 2020)
Two inspiring young people from Graham Windham who identify as LGBTQ talk about how their Graham SLAM coaches changed – and even saved – their lives. Watch video ►
(August 7, 2019)
“It’s all of our jobs at Graham to build a culture where families are respected, heard and spoken to compassionately and honestly.” Dannhauser says his agency has been able to hire and retain advocates because it is an organizational priority. Since creating its Family Success Initiative in 2014, Graham has grown from a single parent advocate to four full-time “Family Coaches” who are life-experienced in facing the child welfare system. ACS funding through its contracts would enable the program to grow. Read more ►
(June 19, 2019)
“The many young people and organizations that make up the Fair Futures Coalition are thrilled,” said Jess Dannhauser, President and CEO of the human services nonprofit Graham Windham, in an email to the Chronicle on behalf of the Fair Futures campaign. “We are very grateful to the City Council for its tireless advocacy and to the de Blasio Administration for including this investment in the budget. New York City is leading the way nationally. It is also sending a clear message to young people in or transitioning from foster care that the City believes in them and their futures.” Read more ►
(May 9, 2019)
Jess Dannhauser, President and CEO of Graham Windham, and Pilar Laurancuent, Director of the Graham SLAM coaching program at Graham Windham, talk about the Fair Futures campaign to secure $50 million in funding for a coaching program for youth who age out of foster care at 21. Joining them is Selwyn Bernardez, a former youth in foster care and participant in the Graham SLAM program, to talk about his experience in the system. Read more ►
(May 3, 2019)
Rise is working with child welfare agencies to operationalize these recommendations. This work began at Graham Windham, when participants in the writing group decided to share their suggestions in a letter to the agency’s leadership. To their surprise, both Rise and the agency took their ideas seriously and their words led to change. Now, four years later, Graham has a parent handbook. Its waiting room walls are covered in the informational posters and handouts, developed by Rise parent leaders, that explain parents’ rights and roles in visits. A parent advocate reviews both of these tools one-on-one with parents soon after their children are placed in foster care. These changes have contributed to the agency achieving top reunification outcomes in New York City. Read more ►
(April 30, 2019)
“With more than 25,000 young people in foster care in New York City, it is more important to provide a pathway to success to these children starting at a young age. The Graham SLAM program provides the support, the mentorship and the life coaching necessary for these young people to achieve their goals in life and to provide access to opportunities that they would otherwise never know about.” Read more ►
(March 1, 2019)
“We can no longer accept poor life outcomes for youth in foster care. And, we don’t have to,” said Jess Dannhauser, president of Graham Windham, a child welfare provider in the city, in the statement released this morning. “These type of academic, career and social supports are commonplace for most NYC kids whose families have access to these resources but are still not the norm for most young people leaving foster care in NYC.” Read more ►
(August 20, 2018)
“Here at Graham Windham, a youth development and family organization located in New York City, we rely heavily on data and ways to elicit information from our participants and staff and use the information to improve practices and change our systems. As a result, we are evolving to meet the needs of the populations we serve.” Read more ►
(June 6 2018)
“Our space is your space. When someone walks in, we greet them. We’re not taking notes, we’re not asking a lot of personal questions or judging you,” says Lopez, director of this novel support program operated by the family and youth services nonprofit Graham Windham, which has contracted with the city’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) to help stem the tide of child abuse referrals. Read more ►
(April 5, 2018)
Commissioner David A. Hansell was joined by Graham Windham CEO Jess Dannhauser, ACS and provider agency staff and community leaders for the launch of Graham’s “O.U.R. Place,” the first of three innovative Family Enrichment Centers in NYC to provide families and communities with comprehensive services. Named by community members O.U.R. (Organizing to be United + Resilient) Place is located in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx and is managed by Graham. The New York Times got a preview of O.U.R. Place a few weeks ago and it was prominently featured here. Read more ►
(February 6, 2018)
Graham SLAM (Support, Lead, Achieve, and Model) is one of Graham’s most notable programs, because it offers participants support until the age of 25 – even if they are no longer part of the child welfare system. The program coaches and guides children and adolescents in the foster care or juvenile justice systems (or at risk of entering the system) through high school, college or vocational school, and their search for a living-wage career. Watch Jess’ interview ►
(November 7, 2017)
The portrait, which hung at the Graham School in New York since the early 1900s, is the first artifact related to Eliza Hamilton in the D.C. museum’s collection. “The connection between Eliza Hamilton and the musical Hamilton shows philanthropy’s collaborative power and the American ideals of participation, resourcefulness and shared responsibility that continue to shape a distinctive form of giving in our nation,” said John Gray, the Elizabeth MacMillan director of the National Museum of American History. A video of the discussion about the connection between Eliza Hamilton’s and the Hamilton cast’s philanthropic efforts with Graham via The Eliza Project is available in here.
(November 7, 2017)
Watch this first look at Sharing Our Stories: The Eliza Project, a 10 minute Short Documentary about the inception, purpose and hopeful legacy of The Eliza Project, co-founded by Philippa Soo (original ‘Eliza Hamilton,’ Hamilton) and Morgan Marcell. Featuring Renée Elise Goldsberry, Jonathan Groff, Lin-Manuel Miranda and our students. Read more ►
Learn more about our history in this great interview with our President and CEO via WNET’s MetroFocus. Watch the interview ►
(October 5, 2017)
District Attorney Vance is helping to build persistence and determination in our young people which leads to their success. We are inspired by today’s announcement and deeply grateful for DA Vance’s investment in our Graham SLAM program, which has 52 kids in college today. His profound belief in our young people will make a life-changing difference in hundreds more young lives.” Read more ►
(August 02, 2017)
Learn more about our history and mission in this great interview with Luis A. Miranda, Jr. founding partner at MirRam Group and Jeffrey Seller, producer of Hamilton: An American Musical via The Charlie Rose Show. Watch the interview ►
(July 11, 2017)
NYC’s Community Schools Initiative, which provides services like counseling, dental care and vision screening in school buildings has decreased absenteeism in many schools . Read more ►
HP will provide our historic Graham School with a brand new, fully equipped learning studio technology center, student PCs & educational tools to support both teachers and students at the historic campus in Westchester County, NY. Read more ►