Saturday, October 31, 2020

Join Island Kids And NYC Council Member Ben Kallos In Virtual Rally Sunday Afternoon To Bring NYC DOE Learning Bridges Child Care To Roosevelt Island - Sign Petition Too

According to the NYC Department Of Education

As the New York City Department of Education resumes in-person schooling, most schools and early childhood programs are operating on a blended learning model. This means that each week, students have some school days in person, and some school days remotely. Learning Bridges is a new program that provides free child care options for children from 3-K through 8th grade on days when they are scheduled for remote learning....

The Learning Bridges program would be of great benefit to Roosevelt Island families and our local Island Kids is trying to bring the program here but they need your help. According to Island Kids Executive Director Nikki Leopold.

Dear Parents,

Dear RI Families-

The Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) has rejected Island Kids' application to become a Learning Bridges site with no explanation. But we are not giving up!

It is clear that DYCD has no understanding of the unique child care needs of Roosevelt Island families due to our geographic location.  Providing parents with one option, away from the Island, exacerbates the stressful circumstances that families are currently living under. 


Councilmember Ben Kallos, has been a faithful supporter of Island Kids, and a partner in the fight to bring a Learning Bridges site to Roosevelt Island.   He takes this matter very seriously and is working diligently to put pressure on DYCD and the Department of Education to make Learning Bridges a reality in our community.  To that end, Councilmember Kallos and Island Kids are co-hosting a virtual rally to bring attention to this critical matter. 

Please join Councilmember Kallos, Island Kids and other elected leaders for a virtual rally to bring attention to this critical matter. 


Date: Sunday, November 1st

Time: 1pm-2pm

Zoom registration link:


It is very important that DYCD and the DOE see that this is an important matter to a large number of Island families.   


In addition, please sign the petition at the following link.

We need as many families to participate as possible. Please pass on the above Zoom link and the link to the petition to anyone who cares about this issue.  


Your support is critical in helping DYCD and the DOE understand the overlooked childcare needs of Roosevelt Island.  Please join us in this fight!!!

Feel free to reach out to me with any questions.


Nikki Leopold

Executive Director

Island Kids, Inc. 

Petition to Bring Learning Bridges to Roosevelt Island is here.

UPDATE 11/1 - Here's video of today's Roosevelt Island Learning Bridges rally

and press release from City Council Member Ben Kallos.

Families and public school students at PS/IS 217 on Roosevelt Island serving 632 students rallied for a “Learning Bridges” - remote learning center - where there currently is none. Island Kids had been working since August to become a Learning Bridges site to serve 45 children, but was rejected on October 27, 2020 with a form letter that included no explanation. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, and Acting RIOC President Shelton Haynes joined Council Member Ben Kallos and more than 40 families for a virtual rally with signs drawn by children calling for the city to open Learning Bridges on Roosevelt Island. An online petition for Learning Bridges started on October 30 has already exceeded 100 signatures.

“After not hearing anything for a month, I reached out and was told that we were on the waiting list, which basically gives us no chance of attending. We can’t afford additional child care because we already pay for my younger son. My husband and I are alternating schedules … It is extremely stressful and tiresome and requires additional energy from me … On Friday, my son turned 5 and he really didn’t want me to share this, because he doesn’t think his birthday wish would come true. His birthday wish when he went to bed that he told me was that we could all be together as a family … I worry that there is a growing disparity that is affecting our community and will affect the learning level of our children because we can’t facilitate their school work and work efficiently at the same time,” 28 minutes into the video cried Amy Rodriguez, a frontline worker at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, a Roosevelt Island resident and parent of two-boys.


It is nothing short of a nightmare not to have Learning Bridges on Roosevelt Island and while I was really excited that she got a spot at the YMCA, when I looked and saw that it was at the Vanderbilt site, I was crushed because it was useless to me,” 32 minutes into the video said Kirstin Bruan, a Public Defender and essential worker who must still appear at the Kew Gardens Court House in a the Queens redzone, a Roosevelt Island resident and parent of a young girl.


“This is really needed for the community. We want to stress for pre-k kids that this is really needed. I feel that I am failing my daughter, we put her to watch screen time more than we have desire, that we would allow her to do it,” said 37 minutes into the video said Elizabeth Diago Navarro, a city employee living on Roosevelt Island with a 4 year old and infant child.


So far there are only 62 Learning Bridges locations in Manhattan to serve 195 elementary and middle schools with 78,002 public school students in 3K through 8th grades. Council Member Ben Kallos originally proposed the idea of remote learning centers to accommodate families who needed child care while students were learning remotely on July 10th 2020 in a letter to the Mayor and Chancellor as covered by the New York Post. On July 16, 2020, Mayor de Blasio announced the adoption of remote learning centers as “Learning Bridges” for up to 100,000 students from 3K to 8th grade. On July 23, 2020, Kallos was joined by Council Member Lander in demanding more seats as covered in the New York Post. By mid September Council Member Kallos joined parent sentiments in stating that Learning Bridges “was a mess” as they learned only 30,000 slots would be available.


“Our essential workers and families of color who have paid the highest price are owed more than a thank you together with lip service and the promise of free childcare 40 minutes away. 


Mayor de Blasio must provide more than one hundred Roosevelt Island families with Learning Bridges on Roosevelt Island and work with the providers we’ve lined up on the Island to serve our families and children,” said Council Member Ben Kallos.  “When Mayor de Blasio promised universal pre-kindergarten and then didn’t offer it on Roosevelt Island, we found a provider and got the school seats we needed, and we can do it again.”