Welcome to our July newsletter, where we celebrate the vibrant tapestry of our community and the significant events that shape our journey. In this edition, we dive into the empowering stories and impactful initiatives surrounding BIPOC Mental Health Month, the joyful spirit of the Dominican Day Parade, the importance of World Youth Skills Day in shaping our future leaders, and the recent developments in the affirmative action decision day. Join us as we explore these inspiring narratives that highlight the resilience and progress within our diverse community.
Honoring Sandra Harris at The National Dominican Day Parade
Join us in commemorating the remarkable achievements of NMIC Board Member Sandra Harris, Associate Vice President for Government and Community Affairs at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, as she is honored at The National Dominican Day Parade. This vibrant event marks the 41st Anniversary of the Parade and is a celebration of the richness of Dominican culture, folklore, and popular traditions. It serves as a platform to highlight, promote, and acknowledge the invaluable heritage and contributions of the Dominican community in the United States and around the world. Let us come together in unity and rejoice in Sandra’s outstanding accomplishments. We invite you to join us on Sunday, August 13th, as we fill the streets of 6th Avenue, embracing the theme of ‘Nuestra Historia, Nuestra Gente; Our History, Our People.’
Click here to learn more about The National Dominican Day Parade.
July is BIPOC Mental Health Month
NMIC’s Wellness Program provides free mental health screenings to community members and facilitate their connection to the necessary support. Each year, our initiative reaches and screens over 800 clients, ensuring their mental health needs are not only recognized, but also compassionately addressed. The month of July is especially significant because we observe BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) Mental Health Awareness Month, a time dedicated to recognizing and addressing the distinct mental health challenges and requirements faced by BIPOC individuals. While mental illness can affect individuals from all backgrounds, this month sheds light on the unique experiences of the BIPOC communities. Shockingly, according to the NYS Office of Mental Health, only one in three African Americans in need of mental health care receive the support they require. Our commitment to supporting BIPOC communities drives us to break down the barriers that often hinder access to vital mental health treatment.
Click here to learn more about NMIC’s Wellness Program.
Celebrating World Youth Skills Day
NMIC’s YouthBuild program stands as a champion for providing and facilitating employment and entrepreneurial skills opportunities to youth in our community who aspire to reach their full potential. Our five-month paid opportunity caters to young people between the ages of 17 and 24 who are unemployed and out-of-school. We help participants reclaim their education, gain the skills they need for employment, and become leaders in the community.
According to a 2021 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a significant portion of minimum wage workers are young individuals. In fact, workers under the age of 25 accounted for 44% of individuals receiving the federal minimum wage or less. The statistics highlight the challenges faced by young workers, who grapple with the pressing issue of securing jobs that offer livable wages. Compounding the situation, the persistently high unemployment rates, surpassing pre-pandemic levels, further exacerbate the challenges faced by these individuals in their pursuit of meaningful employment.
The comprehensive support services we provide play a crucial role in enabling us to empower young individuals who encounter obstacles, not just in obtaining employment, but also in providing them with the essential support to maintain stable employment and acquire the skills necessary for work and entrepreneurship. We recognize the tremendous potential of young people as agents of positive transformation and commit to equipping them with the resources and prospects needed to build prosperous and sustainable futures. Ensuring their access to education and career services stands as one of the most effective approaches to support the youth.
Click here to learn more about NMIC’s YouthBuild.
Affirmative Action: Statement from Maria Lizardo
On July 4th, Americans across the nation came together to commemorate Independence Day. However, this year’s celebration was accompanied by a complex backdrop as the Supreme Court had recently ruled to reverse affirmative action. This decision marked the end of colleges and universities being able to consider race as one of the factors in their admissions process. The ruling has stirred deep concern and disappointment among those who hold dear the principles of equality and inclusivity.
While the full consequences of this decision may take time to unfold, it is crucial to acknowledge its potential impact. Previous research, such as a 2013 study conducted by Harvard, has shown that the elimination of affirmative action in certain states led to a noticeable decline in workforce diversity. These findings underscore the significance of affirmative action in fostering an inclusive work environment.
We firmly condemn this recent ruling, recognizing the fundamental importance of equal opportunity for all individuals within our nation. It is essential to address the concerns surrounding this decision and comprehend the potential ramifications it has for our social progress. We firmly believe that diversity is a crucial element for the future excellence of our country and the world as a whole. As we reflect on this past Independence Day, we express our hope that meaningful discussions and exploration of alternative strategies will ensue, ensuring the continual advancement of a society that upholds the principles of equality, opportunity, and progress.
Cafecito con Maria
In the months leading up to Mayor Adam’s final agreement with the City Council for the budget of Fiscal Year 2023, numerous organizations across the boroughs, including NMIC, joined forces with the Human Services Council (HSC) to champion a crucial cause—a cost of living adjustment (COLA). Regrettably, the Fiscal Year 2023 budget only allocates $40 million for a workforce enhancement program for the 125,000 contracted workers in the human services sector. This agreement falls short of meeting the pressing needs of these workers, with two-thirds of them living near poverty.
It is unacceptable that human service workers are subjected to inadequate pay, insufficient benefits, and limited opportunities for career advancement. Over the past year, in collaboration with HSC, our dedicated team at NMIC has undertaken various initiatives to advocate for change. We have orchestrated impactful social media campaigns, penned thought-provoking opinion pieces, and swiftly responded to the unfolding events with our statements. Our Executive Director, Maria Lizardo, LMSW, played a pivotal role as the emcee at one of the largest rallies ever witnessed during this mayoralty. She exemplified unwavering dedication by participating in an overnight protest outside City Hall, a bold act that no other advocate attempted this year. Maria also attended another rally the following day, showcasing our consistent and resolute stance. Throughout this budget negotiation, we have remained steadfast in highlighting the high stakes and the imperative need for a COLA to ensure true equity and accessibility in New York.
We refuse to allow this setback to deter our progress. Together, we will persist in our fight to eradicate government-sanctioned poverty wages for human service workers.
Click here to learn more about the #JustPay campaign.
- BIPOC Mental Health Month
- July 1, International Day of Cooperatives
- July 4, Independence Day
- July 15, World Youth Skills Day