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June 15, 2009

Velázquez Helps Highland Park Youth Succeed

NEW YORK - On Saturday, Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) presented leaders of the Highland Park Community Development Corporation (CDC) with $200,000 in federal resources to support their successful youth programs.  The funding from the U.S. Department of Justice will help young adults succeed academically and develop positive relationships with their parents and peers.  Attending a summer celebration at the Highland Park Children’s Garden, Congresswoman Velázquez highlighted the importance of programs that create a structured environment for youth, particularly in the months when school is out.

“The Highland Park CDC helps our youth prepare for a positive future by teaching them how to resolve conflicts peacefully and set goals for achievement in school and the community,” Velázquez said.  “I am committed to securing the federal resources needed to help expand the reach of community organizations with a track record of success.”

The Highland Park CDC established the Values Education Through Cooperative Activities Program (VETCA) to provide at-risk youth with cultural and recreational activities that encourage teamwork and positive communication.   For the past seven years, VETCA has provided opportunities for students to enhance their leadership skills, learn in a safe environment, and foster personal growth.  During the school year, the VETCA program helps 120 students between the ages of 4-14 navigate their schoolwork and resolve conflicts in their lives.  During the summer months, 75 youth benefit from their programming.  The organization offers workshops and resources to parents so that encouragement and motivation for achievement continues at home.

“Congresswoman Velázquez is supportive of our mission to improve the quality of life for Brooklyn families, starting with programs to help lift up our youngsters.  These funds will allow the VETCA program to assist more youth with their etiquette and socialization skills development,” said Robert Santiago, Executive Director of the Highland Park CDC.

In addition to their youth programs, the Highland Park CDC offers a wide variety of assistance for the local community.  It operates the Tilden Hall Residential Facility, a NYC Tier II shelter program for 117 families, as well as a clothing bank and an emergency food bank.  Workshops provide financial education and healthy living advice for working families.  In addition, mentoring and intergenerational projects create lasting bonds between members of the community, and provide role models for young adults.

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