Connecting New Yorkers through music, one piano at a time

NEW YORK – If you’ve walked around New York City within the past few weeks, chances are you’ve run into a colorful piano that’s sitting on the sidewalk looking a little out of place. But the piano has been placed there for a reason; it wants you to come and play it. It’s one of 51 pianos that have been placed around the city by the organization Sing for Hope, a nonprofit that aims to make art more accessible. “What we’re trying to do at Sing for Hope is give opportunities for people to connect with people,” Sing for Hope co-founder Monica Yunus said. For the past 12 years, the organization has placed more than 400 pianos throughout the city during the month of June where they sit unsecured and available for anyone to play a tune.

By the numbers: The current school climate in New York City

NEW YORK — A new report released last week by the Office of New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer evaluates the current climate within New York City schools in relation to school safety and security. The study found students are reporting there is more bullying happening within their schools. Additionally, the report discovered that in schools where there are a greater number of violent incidents that occur on campus, there are no social workers on staff. Below are some more key highlights of the report.

New Yorkers are throwing away more textiles instead of recycling, study finds

NEW YORK — New York City residents are throwing away less than they did 12 years ago, according to the Department of Sanitation’s Waste Characterization Survey released in April. The average household pitched less than 1,990 pounds of waste in 2017. That’s down from about 2,280 pounds in 2005. But less than a quarter of what residents set out on the curb each week belongs in a landfill. Recyclable materials such as paper, plastic, metal and glass make about 68 percent of the 3.1 million tons of waste that is thrown out.

Cycling program creates more accessibility opportunities in New York City

NEW YORK — Susan Genis has limited vision. When she’s out, she wears dark, bulky sunglasses that cover all sides of her eyes to protect the vision she has left from the sun. She doesn’t use a walking stick or need a guide dog’s help to navigate the hustle and bustle of New York’s streets – she has already been doing that for years. But when it comes to some things, Genis needs a little help. One of those things is riding a bike.

Q and A: A look into the accessibility problem within New York City mass transit

NEW YORK — The MTA New York City Transit is one of the largest public transportation agency in the world with 472 operating subway stations. According to the MTA, the subway system has a daily ridership of an average of 5.6 million people. But there’s a population that finds the subway system one of the least accessible – those who face a mobility challenge or have a physically disability that require stair-free access. Colin Wright is an advocacy associate for the TransitCenter, a research-based organization that works with transit agencies nationwide on how to improve public transportation services. In his 2017 report “Access Denied,” Wright found that there are currently 110 subway stations out of 472 total – about 23% – that are accessible under the American Disabilities Act (ADA).

Girl Scout Troop 6000 provides stability for homeless youth in NYC

NEW YORK — Ebony Daniel didn’t expect to find herself in the situation she was in. She had just become a single mother to three young girls after losing their father to an unexpected heart attack and was living in a tiny one-room bedroom in a shelter in Queens. “My kids were devastated because they thought he would have been coming home the next day, but he didn’t wake up,” Daniel said. “Being in a shelter, there is a lot of strain.”

Daniel saw that her girls – Leilani, 12, Maliyah, 7, and Melanie, 5 – needed a change. That’s when she found out about Girl Scout Troop 6000, New York City’s first troop entirely comprised of young girls living in homeless shelters.

East Lansing Public Schools find strategies to bridge achievement gap


Michigan State University education professor Dr. Dorinda Carter-Andrews on the achievement gap results in East Lansing Public Schools. Carter-Andrews has been working with the district since 2007 to find new ways on how district members can narrow the gap. By Camille Douglas
Entirely East Lansing

Pinecrest Elementary’s Title I reading teacher, Sarah Colechin, makes sure to meet with each of her students individually each week to see where they need extra help. Colechin’s job, supported by federal funds, is to help first through third graders struggling in academics to help close the “achievement gap.”

The achievement gap measures differences in academic performance between groups of students. Groups are generally categorized by economic status, race/ethnicity and by gender.

Documentary on human trafficking features areas of East Lansing

“Break the Chain” is a documentary that focuses on the discussion of sex and labor trafficking issues in Michigan. The premiere date of the documentary is to be set sometime in the beginning May. By Camille Douglas
Entirely East Lansing

EAST LANSING – In a tiny conference room that can probably fit no more than 10 people in the Capitol Building in Lansing, documentarian Laura Swanson waited for the arrival of U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. Swanson says she stood behind a wooden table in the middle of the room as her two crew members finished setting up two large Canon cameras on tripods. Stabenow entered in a cobalt dress suit.

East Lansing Public Schools discuss how to reduce the achievement gap

By Camille Douglas
Entirely East Lansing

EAST LANSING – Teachers’ relationships with students can play a major role in helping low-achieving students catch up with their peers, participants in a panel on the achievement gap said this week. Title I reading teacher Sarah Colechin at Pinecrest elementary believes in this idea that developing a teacher-to-student relationship is key to helping students improve their education performance. As a Title I teacher, she was employed by the federal government, not the district, to work with students in grades first through third that are falling behind in academics. Since the beginning of her career at Pinecrest elementary six years ago, Colechin has seen a huge improvement in motivating her students to succeed academically. “It’s really all about showing your students that you care for each one of them,” Colechin said.