Monday, December 30, 2013

Looking Back at 2013!

We at HMESF want to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday! As we prepare for 2014, we can’t help but look back at all the great things the HMESF team and providers have accomplished this year.

Earlier this year we celebrated our 5th anniversary with all of our supporters who have carried on the tradition of Helene Marks’ mission to create opportunities for bright young futures. We acknowledged the accomplishments of the HMESF team and supporters but more importantly we honored the child care professionals who work hard everyday to develop healthy environments for children. In celebration, we were also joined by nationally-recognized researcher, Dr. Dana Friedman of the Early Care Institute who spoke about the importance of reading to a child at an early age. We also heard from Mark McGrath, a representative from one of our centers, Hale House Center, and recipient of the first HMESF scholarship program. It was definitely a night to remember, being surrounded by friends, leaders, supporters, and early care providers.


This year we also hosted our first round table discussion with our 21 centers. Given the changing landscape of the early child care field, it was important to understand our providers’ challenges and concerns. Representatives brought up issues of funding and program cutbacks and were open to discuss how HMESF can continue to support our centers moving forward. Some major points we took away from our centers was the success of our Library Initiative and book per kid donations. As a result of this insightful meeting, we also learned the need for professional development for our centers.

A few months later we hosted our first Professional Development day with Ellen Jaffe Cogan from early education consulting firm, Hilltop Early Childhood Services. Representatives from our child care centers around the city came together to participate in a dynamic workshop about the use of centers’ walls as an extension of learning and encouraging science exploration through play. The major takeaway from the workshop was understanding that everything our providers do (i.e. decorating the walls) and everything children do (i.e. exploring) can all be opportunities to engage in the development of the child. Everyone walked away from the workshop with the joy that anything you do can make a difference.


This year HMESF expanded internally. In an effort to bring on more professionals dedicated to our mission, we were happy to welcome members of our newly established HMESF Fundraising Committee. Together, we hosted a Holiday Cocktail Party and had an amazing time with everyone who wore their best “ugly sweaters.”

The end of the year also marked our annual holiday book per kid donation. This year’s donation is Esphyr Slobodkina’s “Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys, and Their Monkey Business.” “Caps for Sale” has been in print for over fifty years and follows a peddler and a band of mischievous monkeys filled with warmth, humor and simplicity. We can’t wait for each child at our centers to get their own copy of this delightful story and can only hope they’ll want to read it again and again!

As the year comes to an end, we want to thank everyone who has had a part in making 2013 one to remember. We couldn’t have done it without the HMESF team, our supporters, providers and centers this year! We are looking forward to 2014!!

Continue to follow us on our website, Facebook and Twitter to keep up-to-date on what's coming up!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Bill de Blasio for Mayor, Bill de Blasio for Early Child Care?

Image from NY Daily News

In this year’s mayoral race, Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio set himself apart from his opponents by proposing a bold idea: to raise taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers to fund “truly universal pre-kindergarten and after-school programs for all middle school students”.  It seems that was the tune New Yorkers wanted to hear. After a historic margin of victory, Bill de Blasio came out on top (73 percent to Joe Lhota’s 24 percent). So the question is: can the new mayor-elect deliver on his promise? How will de Blasio’s administration affect the early child care arena in NYC?

Image from Politicker article

Friday, October 11, 2013

Our First Professional Development Day!

Mural in the lobby of Union Settlement Association
Earlier this year, HMESF hosted our very first round table collaboration with early care providers at Union Settlement. We were thrilled that there was a representation of many of our 21 centers across Manhattan. It was our objective to hear what the early care providers’ challenges were amongst all the changes in the early care landscape. Since we strive to improve the quality of education and early care for children ages 0-3, it was essential to determine how HMESF could positively impact and support our centers moving forward. The providers agreed our Library Initiative and book per kid donations have been well received, as books are essential to engage children from an early age. However, it was immediately clear that the early care programs were not getting sufficient professional development, and hoped HMESF may provide a workshop for their staff.

As a result of the round table requests, HMESF hosted its first Professional Development day last week. Ellen Jaffe Cogan from early education consulting firm, Hilltop Early Childhood Services, led the half day training. Eager early care providers from Northside Center, Safe Horizon, BronxWorks, Sunshine Learning Center and Mother Hale Learning Center filled the community room of Union Settlement Association in East Harlem on a sunny Thursday morning. These dedicated early childcare workers participated in a dynamic dialogue during Ellen Jaffe Cogan’s two-part presentation on utilizing walls to contribute to learning and science exploration through play.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Back-to-School: Are You Ready?

Image from

Labor Day isn’t only the last day to wear white, but a weekend to enjoy the final days of summer fun. This weekend was also opportune to switch gears for school just around the corner! But getting ready for school isn’t just buying school supplies and a new backpack or setting an earlier bedtime; there’s preparation for everyone—from children and parents to teachers and care providers!

So if you or someone else is anxious about the start of the school year, here’s a quick checklist to ease your worries.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Early Learning Days of Action

Rainbow Chimes sing Wednesday. Credit: Pam Robinson

The nation’s focus on early learning and the importance of investing in early education comes at a prefect time. Earlier this year, the president made a bold step forward to improve the opportunities for young children. He announced an unprecedented proposal to make more than $75 billion available for early education, child care, Head Start, pre-kindergarten and home visiting over the next 10 years. However, President Obama’s commitment to early education won’t push through without our support. The “Early Learning Days of Action” serves as a prime opportunity to band together as a nation and to speak as a unified voice on behalf of young children and families to support President Obama’s Early Learning Initiative.

On Wednesday June 5th, allies across the country celebrated “Early Learning Day of Action” to generate as many press-worthy attention activities that will start and continue the conversation on early learning and the impact toward being productive citizens of the future. Spearheaded by the National Women’s Law Center based in Washington D.C., hundreds of organizations and advocates will participate in the “Early Learning Day of Action” over the next two weeks.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

April 14-20: Week of the Young Child: Early Years are Learning Years

*image from NAEYC

Our 5th Anniversary party last month garnered overwhelming support and gathered people invested in furthering HMESF’s mission to provide quality and affordable early child care in NYC.  The timing of our event coincided with another childhood celebration this week (April 14-20); the Week of the Young Child™.
Sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the annual celebration that recognizes the needs of young children and appreciates parents, teachers, caregivers, and other adults who play important roles in the lives of young children. The theme for this year is Early Years Are Learning Years®, to focus public attention on the needs of young children,  their families,  and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs.  
Since NAEYC ‘s origin in 1971, the Week of the Young Child™, it was apparent that early childhood years, (birth through age 8) would create the foundation for children's success in school and later life. Research and early childhood advocates today have especially stressed the importance of investing in our children’s early years to foster optimum learning, development, future economic and societal payoffs.  Despite the demand for quality and affordable childcare/education programs for children ages 0-3, the current economic climate doesn’t always allow programs to meet the demand, especially in major cities like NYC.
However, this Week of the Young Child™ is an opportunity to recognize that a young child’s future is our responsibility. It is pivotal that we recommit ourselves to ensuring that each and every child has a quality early care environment—at home, at child care, at school, and in the community—to promote emotional well-being and academic success.
Please join HMESF in celebrating  the Week of the Young Child™.  Many communities across the country have banded together to raise public awareness and create broad visibility to support the importance of the early years. It is important to spread the word by: supporting organizations which connect valuable information to parents of young children, and visiting high-quality programs to recognize the staff’s efforts in providing quality early childcare/education.  HMESF took the opportunity to highlight the hard work and dedication of the providers in our partnering centers, at our 5th Year Anniversary party. We encourage you to do the same! Check out our website to find out more about the centers HMESF donates to and supports.
A key element in a child’s development during the early years is to promote children’s literacy.  This year’s Week of the Young Child™ is themed  the Early Years Are Learning Years® Consequently, the HMESF Library Initiative, was created for exactly this reason. It is extremely important that children begin interacting with books at an early age. Furthermore, the keynote speaker at the event, Dr. Dana Friedman from the Early Care Institute, drove this point home. She indicated that books and reading have a direct effect on a child, "the more you read to children from an early age, the more positive the perceive the reading experience."
This April 14-20 is an opportunity to plan how we—as citizens of a community, of a state, and of a nation—can better meet the needs of all young children and their families. Join HMESF and NAEYC in celebrating the Week of the Young Child™.
Find out more at NAEYC’s website for the Week of the Young Child™.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

HMESF Five Year Anniversary Party

I'd like to send a heart felt thank you to all those who attended, supported, and were a part of HMESF's 5 Year Anniversary Party at the Stellan last evening. The night was such an overwhelming success on so many levels. As I looked around the room, I felt so proud that the friends of HMESF, guests, early childcare providers, and leaders, all came together to celebrate one thing; my mother Helene Marks.

As I reflect back on the past five years, I am in awe of all the hard work and dedication put forth by the HMESF family.  I said in my speech that "it has been an interesting, challenging, and fulfilling journey, as we worked tirelessly to make our mark in the early childcare arena." I am thrilled that we have been able to continue doing great work to honor my mothers vision of improving the quality of affordable childcare. Despite some of our accomplishments over the past few years, it is really the childcare professionals that deserve to be recognized. These providers everywhere work hard every day to develop children, to provide them with a healthy environment to achieve social and emotional well being, and academic success. 

The Stellan was bustling with activity, great raffle prizes, and Dana's macaroons. We were honored to have two amazing key note speakers that portrayed the challenges faced and victories achieved in the early care world.  First,  Dr. Dana Friedman of the "Early Care Institute," spoke about the importance of early intervention, play, and social interaction.  She highlighted how books and reading have a direct effect on a child, "the more you read to children from an early age, the more positive the perceive the reading experience." Next, we were thrilled to hear from Mark McGrath, the director of Hale House Center, and the recipient of the first HMESF scholarship program. He discussed how HMESF and our donations have positively impacted their center.  

It was a very special night for HMESF.  We appreciate your generosity.  Please follow us on Facebook, twitter, and visit our website at to see what we have in store for the remainder of 2013.

Thanks for celebrating with us. We look forward to seeing you at our next event.

Jaime Marks (President), Richard Marks (Vice President), Matthew Konieczny (Board Member)
Some of the HMESF Team Elizabeth Ballantyne (Board Member), Joey Kotler, and Melanie Arnold 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

2 Days Until Our Fifth Anniversary Party!

Our Five Year Anniversary Party is just TWO days away! Haven’t RSVP-ed yet? You definitely don’t want to miss this event! The entire HMESF team is excited to celebrate the past five years, thank all of our supporters, and welcome new members with open arms--what a great way to kick off 2013!

There is so much in store for Tuesday’s anniversary event: fantastic raffles, prizes, and delectable macarons from Dana’s Bakery! If that wasn’t enough to pique your interest, we have two speakers: a researcher in the early education field and a representative from one of the childcare centers HMESF supports.

Dr. Dana Friedman of The Early Year's Institute, is a nationally-recognized researcher and policy analyst for children, family and women's issues. She has worked for several national organizations and served as a consultant to major corporations, government agencies and foundations. Before founding The Early Years Institute, Dana was Senior Vice President at Bright Horizons Family Solutions where she led the firm's work/life consulting practice; Co-Founder and Co-President of the Families and Work Institute (FWI), a national, non-profit research firm; and a Senior Research Associate at The Conference Board, where she created the Work and Family Information Center in 1983.

Dana is currently on the boards of the New York State Early Care and Learning Council and the Long Island Fund for Women and Girls. She is a member of The Conference Board's Work/Life Leadership Council and the Port Washington Child Care Partnership. She serves on the New York State Early Childhood Advisory Council which oversees the development of the New York State Work Group on Quality Rating Systems, for which she was the original co-director.

Joining Dana Friedman with a few words is Mark McGrath, Director of Development for Hale House Center, Inc., a nationally-recognized non-profit organization dedicated to building better futures for children and families in need. Hale House Center, Inc. was awarded the HMESF Scholarship last Fall, and as a result of this grant, two additional children are receiving the benefit of Hale House’s nurturing and stimulating environment.

Founded in 1969, by Clara McBride Hale, Hale House delivers child-centered, family-focused programs that are responsive to the unique circumstances of each family served and the evolving social needs within their community and beyond. The current initiatives include a state of the art learning center for children ages six weeks to five years and a supportive transitional housing program for single parent families. Hale House believes in providing unconditional love, care and understanding to children and families in need of support. Their Harlem-based programs offer a safe, nurturing environment and an opportunity for a better future through individualized support and educational services.

Without the overwhelming support over the past five years, our accomplishments would mean nothing. So please join us Tuesday night to honor the supporters of HMESF and acknowledge many of the childcare providers who help carry on the tradition of Helene Marks' mission to create opportunities for bright young futures. It will be a night you won’t want to miss!

Don’t miss out at your chance at the remaining tickets for our anniversary part, RSVP here. We hope to see you all Tuesday night!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

EDU-CAP: Early Education in ACTION!

Last year’s re-election of Obama had reignited serious talks establishing new policies and strategies dedication to ensuring all children have access to quality early education and child care. In the last three weeks we’ve seen early education in action: from parents challenging NYC for the teacher evaluation impasse, to a state senator introducing education legislation, and even President Obama detailing plans to expand early education in his state of the union address. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


This week HMESF posted a guest blog for My Town Tutors, whose mission is to connect parents with well-qualified, local teachers as tutors for their child. Periodically they invite others interested children's education to submit a guest blog to reach their network of parents and teachers across the country.

Check out our guest blog citing the importance of investing in early childhood development @ My Town Tutors!

Early Childhood Development: The Best Investment

Sunday, January 6, 2013

HMESF Looking Back at 2012

2012 has been a great year for HMESF. With 2013 just beginning, we took the time to look back on the great progress the HMESF team and centers have made in early childcare and education in New York City!

Center Spotlight

HMESF provides the Helene Marks Library, a collection of age-appropriate books, to early-age child care and early childhood education centers that offer exemplary programs for children ranging in ages from birth to three years old. The types of environments in which children spend their time and the people with whom they spend their time are strongly linked with the outcome of their later lives; one of the main environments being childcare centers. Even for those centers with effective caregivers and a strong structure, a lack of resources can prove to be an impediment to the success of the program. This is where HMESF is able to step in and give a hand to those high-quality centers that are lacking sufficient resources. This year we were able to make a few visits to our centers in the city.