Empowering our Communities

The Public Housing Community Fund supports the New York City Housing Authority with programming that uplifts NYCHA 's residents. The organization renamed itself to highlight its focus on the communities it supports. Joanne Wilson sits on the board and co-chairs the communications committee which aims to share stories about the 1 in 15 New Yorkers who live in NYCHA. These residents, many of whom are are essential workers or in public service, are the engine that makes New York thrive.

Gotham Gives is a founding funder of this initiative at Medgar Evers College (MEC), part of the CUNY system. MEC is one of the only colleges in the country that has developed curricula to prepare its students and community members for success in cannabis-related careers. Minor degree courses include: Chemistry, Botany & Cultivation, Business & Entrepreneurship, and Health.

Gotham Gives is partnering with STRIVE, a career development organization, to deliver Fresh Start so adults leaving incarceration can find lasting careers with real growth opportunities. STRIVE’s holistic training model helps students address employment barriers and offers support for housing, food insecurity, child care, and mental health issues.

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The Jed Foundation is a leader in supporting and improving mental health in youth. JED combines deep subject matter expertise with local, school- and community-based knowledge. Gotham Gives is partnering with JED for the rapid implementation of a public health initiative to protect the emotional health and well-being of New York City’s high school students.

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Generation USA addresses structural racism by preparing, placing, and supporting unemployed people into life-changing careers that would otherwise be inaccessible. Gotham Gives is supporting Generation's expansion into the New York City market, with an emphasis on Black, Latinx, and female individuals. This expansion includes partnering with CUNY schools that provide new learners with IT skills so they can access jobs in the tech sector. Gotham Gives' support of this project ended in 2022, but we continue to track the success of the students who completed the course.

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Investing in Knowledge

In 2015, Fred Wilson launched Computer Science for All (CS4All), a 10-year public/private initiative to bring computer science education to every New York City public school, representing 1.1 million students, with an emphasis on female, black and Latinx students. At the end of last school year, CS4All had trained 2,400 teachers from 900 schools, and more than 220,000 students received instruction in computer science.

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Gotham Gives hosted the NYC Computer Science Opportunity Fair, NYC's largest annual college and career inspiration event for public high school students studying computer science on April 25, 2023. Over 1,000 students attended the Fair, the first in-person event since 2019. Computer science students engaged with companies, interacted with computer science organizations, and learned about educational opportunities at colleges and universities. There was an Emerging Tech Room, videos from tech professionals showcasing their “Secrets to Success,” and a dedicated track for students to prepare for their next steps after high school. Plus robots! The 2024 Fair will take place on March 26, 2024!

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Gotham Gives has invested in this ambitious 4-year project to support the City University of New York (CUNY) integrate computing into teacher preparation programs in all of its education schools. The goal is to prepare future educators to equitably and meaningfully integrate computing and digital literacies into public school classrooms. This investment aligns with Gotham Gives' efforts to improve the quality of computer science education in New York City, and ensure that it is available to all students.

Hood Code brings the power of technology to underestimated communities by offering free coding classes to youth living in NYCHA public housing. Fueled by the vision of founder Jason Gibson, Hood Code helps children from marginalized communities learn the digital skills necessary to participate in today's society.

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In 2020, Gotham Gives piloted a program with Hunter College for CS4All teachers to get state certification in computer science. The goal is to create a representative pool of NYS Certified teachers who can deliver high-quality instruction to NYC public school students. Special efforts are made to recruit teachers of color and/or those who teach students of color. The graduates of this program are among the first accredited Computer Science teachers in New York State.

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Expanding Cultural Opportunities

The High Line is an innovative public space on the reclaimed elevated rail line on NYC's West Side of Manhattan. It is both a park and an outdoor art gallery that creates a unique experience and unusual perspective that is open to all. As a board member, Joanne Wilson has guided the High Line since its inception, including maintaining a focus on community connections, and continues to champion the organization's expansions.

The Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC) opened in downtown NYC in Fall 2023. Gotham Gives is supporting both the capital campaign and program development. Its innovative programming features topics about communities of color and works by artists of color. Free performances are offered in a public space, a front porch for New York City! The PAC is directly engaging with NYC's diverse neighborhoods to encourage involvement and attendance.

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The Shed offers performing arts, visual arts, and pop culture exhibits that push boundaries, and actively seeks work from emerging artists of color. Fred Wilson chairs the Board's Technology Committee and was instrumental in the installation of public multi-media screens that showcase cutting-edge art.