To the Editor:
We refute the assertion, currently being spread by advocates for the Youth Program, that Island Kids was an unqualified and inexperienced applicant for the Youth Center RFP. Island Kids is absolutely qualified for the following reasons:
∙Island Kids has done an excellent job of developing, and continues to develop, its board – a true mix of Island residents, parents, nonprofit specialists, including a nonprofit attorney and a nonprofit CPA, marketing and development professionals, and education specialists. We are proud of the diversity and depth of expertise on the board as Island Kids continues to grow. Our Certificate of Incorporation is with the Attorney General’s office and in the process of being revised to reflect the full scope of services we intend to provide in the future. This process started before our response to the RFP was submitted. Over the last two years, the Island Kids Board of Directors has spent a great deal of time working with the Lawyer’s Alliance to update and improve governance procedures, including revisions to our by-laws and the creation of an employee manual that outlines policies and procedures as well as our legal responsibilities to our employees. We are known for our integrity and at least three Island non-profits have approached us for advice on matters related to Board oversight and procedures.
∙Island Kids has developed strong partnerships with many Island organizations and has an excellent reputation among parents for providing high-quality programming. As we crafted our proposal, much thought was put into collaboration with outside organizations with the same high standards of quality and inclusiveness that we pride ourselves on. Sports and Arts in Schools has that reputation, along with 25 years of providing K-12 afterschool and summer programs. This partnership would have raised the bar on youth services to a level unprecedented on Roosevelt Island and also provides evidence of our strategic capabilities in growing our program.
∙As far as our fundraising capabilities are concerned, Island Kids has raised well over $300,000 in the last 10 years, most of which has gone towards scholarships for children in need. Additionally, in preparation for the possibility of being awarded the Youth Center contract, Island Kids met with a funding partner who was considering a very substantial match to the RIOC funds. Given the small scope of our program, Island Kids has had great success in fundraising and we were confident that obtaining the Youth Center contract would open up additional funding opportunities.
∙Finally, we want to address the alleged conflict of interest between Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation (SASF) and the New York Junior Tennis League (NYJTL). NYJTL is a parent organization of SASF and they operate completely separately. The fact that they share an office space is no indication of a conflict. The Island would have been incredibly lucky to have SASF involved on any level, as their programming is outstanding. We hope to have the opportunity to work with them if and when the RFP is released again.
Island Kids refuses to let this latest personal attack deter us from moving forward. The attempt to thwart the process with baseless allegations distracts all of us from moving forward with the Youth Center RFP which, with the right contractor, would provide high-quality, free programming to children who otherwise would not receive such services. We look forward to RIOC’s response.