New York City Housing Authority

Translate this Page Printer Friendly Format Sign-up for NYCHA Newsletter

Monday, November 29, 2010

Media Contacts

NYCHA: Sheila Stainback (212) 306-3322

The New York City Housing Authority and the Foundation For the Advancement of Women Now Team Up to Cultivate Young Women Leaders of Tomorrow

Over 80 Young Women from Manhattan and the Bronx will Participate in Workshops that will Integrate Life Skills, Self-Esteem Development and Education

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and the Foundation For the Advancement of Women Now (FFAWN) announce their partnership to help young women living in public housing tackle life’s challenges through a series of workshops.  FFAWN, a charity organization founded by singer-songwriter Mary J. Blige and music executive Steve Stoute, is dedicated to helping women overcome personal challenges, break persistent barriers and realize their ultimate potential. Through the NYCHA-FFAWN Teen Girls’ Initiative 84, which kicks-off November 30, NYCHA girls and teens, ages 12-15 will be connected with mentors and exposed to a life skills collaborative program that will provide the support and encouragement they need to pursue their dreams and realize their full potential. Participants will take part in two-and-a-half hour long workshops developed by renowned psychologist Dr. Scyatta Wallace and based on FFAWN’s 3E Junior Wings program, featuring themes inspired by Mary J. Blige’s lyrics – Work in Progress focused on self-esteem development; No More Drama focused on relationships and women’s health; and Rainy Days focused on financial literacy. The 6-month Teen Girl’s Initiative kicks off at a mixer event at fashion icon Donna Karan's Urban Zen Center in Manhattan.

"It's no secret that I've had a hard life, but once I finally got my life together and my career continued to blossom, neither was enough to keep me both happy and fulfilled,” said Mary J. Blige, Co-Founder of FFAWN. “I wanted to use my fame and influence to improve the lives of women; thus helping them to avoid the same mistakes that I made. From this, the Foundation For the Advancement of Women Now (FFAWN) was born. Working with the young women and educating them is the best way I think I can give back to them.  My work with FFAWN makes me proud every day.”

“We are proud to work with our many partners, especially FFAWN to create an enriching experience for our young girls”, said John B. Rhea, Chairman of NYCHA.  “Through theses tailored workshops that aim to cultivate young women’s leadership skills, personal strength, self-confidence, knowledge and connections in their communities, we are helping to empower these young NYCHA residents and boost their confidence and curiosity, which are necessary for success in both school and later life.”

Through conversation and partnership, the ‘3E’ workshops will provide an open and safe forum where women can share personal stories, encourage one another and form a support network for their lives beyond the program. There will also be a series of group sessions for girls that integrate life skills training and resiliency strategies. The workshops are designed to be interactive, therefore each section of the series will involve arts/crafts activities, dance/singing/poetry, writing exercises and music. The Teen Girls Initiative will provide each youth with resources and a take home exercise at the end of each session.

“It is our goal to make FFAWN a grassroots relationship between ourselves and under-served women of all ages and all backgrounds,” said FFAWN Executive Director, Madeline Nelson-Small.  It is with great passion that we work to help them feel empowered to reach their full potential through scholarships, grants, and our acclaimed ‘3E’ workshops.  Our motto, ‘where education is empowerment,’ speaks to our mission of helping women overcome personal challenges and break persistent barriers.  Mary once said ‘if you save women, you save the world’ and that’s what we intend to do.”

This first collaboration between NYCHA-FFAWN Teen Girls Initiative will include 55 residents from the Bronx and 29 from Manhattan.  The residents selected to participate went through an application process that included an interview and an essay about where they see themselves in the future.  The Bronx program will be held at NYCHA’s Sonia Sotomayor Community Center and the Manhattan program will be held at the Manhattanville Community Center.

“During the interview process, each young lady was asked to describe how she could benefit from the program.  Their responses were as varied and distinct as they are.  What a promising group of girls!” said NYCHA Assistant Deputy General Manager for Community Operations, Deidra Gilliard.  “After months of intense planning, I am excited to see this come to fruition. I thank our collaborators who worked hard to help make this program a reality.”

The NYCHA-FFAWN Teen Girls’ Initiative also will include components that promote self-sufficiency and good nutrition.  Through cooking classes taught by chef instructors from The Sylvia Center (TSC), the young participants will learn how to prepare healthy meals, while developing a willingness to try new and varied foods, understanding food sources, and learning how to define the components of a healthy meal. 

“TSC is proud to be working with FFAWN and NYCHA on this program for young women on the verge of adulthood. Healthy eating is fundamental to good self-esteem, and learning to cook is central to a lifetime of smart food choices,” said The Sylvia Center Education Director, Nina Simmons. 

 Mentoring USA is proud to be partnering with NYCHA and FFAWN in the important Teen Girl's Initiative,” said Matilda Raffa Cuomo, founder of MUSA. “We know that young lives can flourish with dedicated and caring mentorship. FFAWN's focus on empowerment and education combined with Mentoring USA's expertise in mentor training and program management will create a strong and lasting infrastructure for the initiative's growth.”

The Hip-Hop Theater Festival (HHTF), which will provide a cultural component to the series of ‘3E’ workshops, will curate a host of performances, staged readings and panel discussions using elements of Hip-Hop culture to ignite dialogue amongst the young women about issues that affect them and their communities. And Mentoring USA will valuable expertise and training for the girls and their mentors.

“It is with great pleasure that we join forces with NYCHA and FFAWN to serve our young women in public housing through outreach and education that celebrates contemporary Hip-Hop culture and touches on issues that concern young women,” said Hip-Hop Theater Festival Executive Director, Clyde Valentin.

The NYCHA-FFAWN Teen Girls’ Initiative will foster conversation and partnership and will provide a safe and open forum where young women from NYCHA public housing developments can share their personal stories, encourage one another, and form a support network for the short and long term.  The program, which will culminate with “The Breakthrough”—the 3E Graduation— will provide participants with advice from experts, teachers and mentors, and will ultimately give these young women the confidence to step through to the next chapter in their lives. 

The program came about through the work of FFAWN and NYCHA’s Office of Public-Private Partnerships, as well as NYCHA’s comprehensive Five Year vision—a strategic Plan to Preserve Public Housing that is an unprecedented collaboration with partners in New York and across the country. The Plan will serve as a vital roadmap for addressing our current services and quality of life concerns, as well as other challenges in the future.


The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) provides decent and affordable housing in a safe and secure living environment for low and moderate- income residents throughout the five boroughs.  To fulfill this mission, NYCHA must preserve its aging housing stock through timely maintenance and modernization of its developments.  NYCHA also administers a citywide Section 8 Leased Housing Program in rental apartments.  Simultaneously, we work to enhance the quality of life at NYCHA by offering our residents opportunities to participate in a multitude of community, educational and recreational programs, as well as job readiness and training initiatives.


The Mary J. Blige and Steve Stoute Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now was formed in 2007 and is dedicated to helping women overcome personal challenges, break persistent barriers and realize their ultimate potential.

About the HHTF

The Hip-Hop Theater Festival brings together the Hip-Hop generation and those interested in learning more about it in a celebration of the Hip-Hop culture. Since its inception, The Hip-Hop Theater Festival has grown into one of the most influential outlets showcasing Hip-Hop performing arts in the country and has become an important contributor to the cultural life of participating Festival cities. This influence has been extended through live, professionally executed theater performances written by and about the Hip-Hop generation. Often using the elements of Hip-Hop culture (including MCing, DJing, Hip-Hop dance, graffiti and Spoken Word), Hip-Hop Theater tells urgent stories seldom represented on stage, and through language that embraces Hip-Hop's multi-literate and poly-lingual vitality. Always imbued with an undercurrent of activism, Hip-Hop Theater ignites dialogue and social change through exciting, provocative and celebratory performance.

About TSC

The Sylvia Center (TSC) is a garden-to-table program that inspires young people to discover good nutrition through thoughtful, direct experiences with seasonal fruits and vegetables, on the farm and in the kitchen. Through these programs, children come to understand what food is, how it is grown, and, perhaps most important, that they themselves can choose to make good food for their own bodies.

About Mentoring USA

Mentoring USA, founded by former first lady of the state of New York, Matilda Raffa Cuomo, is an effective, early-intervention mentoring program to prevent school dropout. By providing mentors at schools, community centers, faith-based institutions, and foster care agencies, Mentoring USA helps children, ages 7 to 21; improve their self-esteem, through financial literacy training, nutrition and wellness, and bias-related anti-violence education. The Mentoring USA model has proven to be effective in helping a child to reach his or her full potential. When each child is matched with a trained, caring, adult volunteer mentor on a one-to-one basis, the child's grades improve, school absenteeism minimizes, and children gain confidence and hope for the future.




    Email a Friend