The Roosevelt Island Center of Community Development (RICCD) believes that almost everything rises and falls on leadership. This is why we created this not-for-profit almost two years ago.
After I’d lived here for a few years and had volunteered with multiple organizations, neighbors started approaching me to share their ideas for new Island programming. Some had dreams for youth programming, while others wanted to serve neighbors living with a disability. Most of these neighbors were unable to get these programs going for various reasons. Some wanted to launch an initiative and didn’t have the space, while others didn’t have the resources and needed support. After months of listening to their stories, RICCD was formed.
RICCD’s mission is to equip and empower high-character leaders for the physical, social, and cultural flourishing of Roosevelt Island. We find neighbors who want to lead initiatives they are passionate about and try to help them see that mission come to fruition. Sometimes this means helping a leader secure funding for their work; other times it means connecting them to the right people who can help the work get off the ground. Depending on what is needed, we might help with promoting events and programming, and we might help the program leader understand the diverse and gentrifying landscape of the neighborhood, ensuring that their programming is accessible to all. In all cases, our focus is to empower leaders in four main areas: youth recreation and leadership, the under-resourced, those who are living with disabilities, and the development of global leaders.
Over the past 18 months, RICCD has helped launch a handful of successful initiatives. Our conversational English courses have allowed more than 50 women to engage in an English-learning community with their children. This has been such a big deal for so many families in which one parent cannot get away during the day for academic courses because there is no available child care. RICCD has also held various youth leadership development courses, training small groups of students in the areas of emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills, conflict resolution, and racial reconciliation. Food distribution has been another priority for RICCD. To date, RICCD has taken part in providing healthy meals to over 200 individuals and families on the Island.
RICCD is overwhelmingly passionate about the care and development of our youth on the Island, with a heightened focus on middle and high school students, young adults, and children living with special needs or who have experienced trauma in their past. Our last youth initiative was spearheaded by Scot Bobo, John Massey, and Kim Massey. The RICCD Babe Ruth Little League program gave around 100 children and 20 coaches and assistants an opportunity to stay on the Island and still play a full season with an all-star game and playoffs. It was a successful first season, leaving room for improvement, but with a ton to celebrate. The goal of RICCD is to find leaders like John and Kim Massey and Scot Bobo and empower them to implement effective programming in a hugely diverse neighborhood, as they did this spring.
After our formation, we created RICCD’s board, which for me is one of the most enjoyable parts of community development. It isn’t simply what you accomplish, but who you accomplish it with. My wife Amanda and I both have extensive experience with not-for-profits, community development work within multicultural communities, and youth programming. Fortunately, an incredible team formed, complementing our experience perfectly. The board includes the following Roosevelt Island neighbors:
Alexander Chou is a pediatric oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where he is the director of the pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship training program. Todd Williams is the director of risk management at Reservoir Capital Group and serves on the board of Hotel Salisbury in midtown New York. Todd and his wife Sharon have lived on Roosevelt Island since 2009. Kim Massey is an experienced youth program director who spent the past three years initiating programming and advocating for the children of Roosevelt Island. Marc Block is an attorney whose practice focuses on commercial property litigation. The Block family have lived on Roosevelt Island for over a decade. Shirley Payne is a mother of four and serves as the Parent Association president at the Eagle Academy of Young Men of Harlem. Payne has lived here since 1995. Lastly, Kristen Gold-Mansour has been a passionate advocate for inclusive education for over 20 years. Gold-Mansour and her company work closely with principals, administrators, and teachers to ensure that the schools’ visions and strengths are an integral part of their inclusive programming.
Global Youth Collective
This winter, RICCD is set to launch the first round of our Global Youth Collective. The Global Youth Collective is a diverse cohort of 15-20 middle and high school students who live on the Island (many from PS/IS 217). Each student will be paired up with well-established mentors and taken through a leadership development process, where they will learn about emotional intelligence, project management, communicating to diverse audiences, prioritizing, temperament and strength finders, cross-cultural leadership, and character development.
To enroll in an RICCD program, become a volunteer, program leader, or to donate, go to RICCD.com.