Making Local Connections: Friends of Thirteen, NAACP and Brooklyn students

August 21, 2009

Jon Rubin of WNET.ORG speaks at Brooklyn Borough Hall, accompanied by Digit from Cyberchase,
Karen Boykin-Towns, president of the NAACP Brooklyn Branch, and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz

Inside THIRTEEN blogger:
Daniel T. Allen, Community Engagement Coordinator, Friends of Thirteen, Inc.

As New York City students get in their last licks of summer, the annual NAACP “Back to School/Stay in School” (BTS/SIS) event yesterday at Brooklyn Borough Hall hopefully made the end of vacation a little sweeter as 2,000 free backpacks filled with essential school supplies were distributed to disadvantaged students.

This year the NAACP Brooklyn Branch forged a partnership with WNET.ORG as a media sponsor and with Friends of Thirteen to help fill the backpacks with supplies from THIRTEEN’s children’s programs. But the idea for this partnership was not born in a board room, nor at a fundraiser, nor even as a conversation between professionals.

It was Memorial Day weekend when Karen Boykin-Towns, president of the NAACP Brooklyn Branch, began preparing this year’s “BTS/SIS” event. She had been thinking of companies to ask for donations. It was her daughter who had the idea: “Mom, why don’t you ask Thirteen? They have a lot of kids’ shows.”

Karen’s first call was to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, who then connected Dorothy Pacella, Executive Director of Friends of Thirteen, with Karen.

From there it was a team effort. THIRTEEN’s education department donated Cyberchase pencils and other back-to-school goodies from Martha Speaks and Sid the Science Kid. Digit, one of the stars from Cyberchase, and Jon Rubin, director, state and local education services for WNET.ORG, were at the event to help celebrate the new school year and encourage kids to stay in school.

Finally, happy 100th anniversary to the NAACP. THIRTEEN looks forward to future collaborations that will advance the committment of both organizations to improving access to educational opportunities for children and adults of all backgrounds.

Watch Jon Rubin’s comments at Brooklyn Borough Hall.