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Dear Friends:


With the promise of spring in the air, teams of volunteers have replaced all the snowsuits and sweaters on our racks with T-shirts and sundresses. Thanks to the continued generosity of donors like you, we always have enough clothing, educational toys, books, and gear to ensure that each of our 300 families leaves with everything they need after each visit to Room to Grow.


After President Obama's call for universal Pre-Kindergarten in his State of the Union address this year, policy-makers across the nation are realizing what Room to Grow has known for the last 15 years: The first years of life are the most critical period of human development, and investment in early childhood development simply makes good sense. Room to Grow invests in our families every day, making sure parents have all the tools and guidance they need to nurture their children's optimal development.    


Thank you for investing in Room to Grow. Your support helps give babies born into poverty a fighting chance for success in life.


Andrea Salwen Kopel 

Executive Director        

 CLIENT SPOTLIGHT: A Family Overcomes Challenges
Janelle was born and raised in Ecuador and immigrated to the US in 2007. In 2008 Janelle met Hector, who was unemployed but attending school full-time. When Janelle found out that she was pregnant with her fist child, she and Hector were very excited and looked forward to the birth of their son. But they were worried that they would not be able to provide for their child.

Janelle was referred to Room to Grow by her prenatal health care provider. At the time, Janelle was living in a shelter for expectant
mothers and Hector was staying with a friend. Janelle knew that she needed help and wanted guidance and support. She felt alone and isolated with her family living in Ecuador.

Isaiah was born in 2011. Janelle was proactive and took full advantage of the program, seeking information about breastfeeding, finding a good pediatrician, and how to get health insurance for Isaiah. Janelle and Hector were able to rent a small studio apartment with money Janelle had saved from the occasional jobs she was able to take on from time to time. Shortly after Isaiah was born, Janelle found out she was pregnant with her second son. Janelle's relationship with Hector quickly dissolved. She was concerned about the safety of her children, so Janelle decided to move out and go back into the shelter system until she could find a place of her own.

Her second son, Elijah, was born in 2012. Janelle continues to work on finding stability in her life with the help of her Room to Grow social worker, La Shell, who has provided referrals for public assistance, housing, and legal support. With La Shell's assistance and key services provided by government agencies and community-based organizations, Janelle now has long-term housing and is receiving counseling.  She will soon become a legal citizen.

Thanks to the clothing, books, educational toys, and gear she receives from Room to Grow, Janelle is able to provide for her two sons. Despite the challenges she has faced, Janelle endeavors to be the best parent she can be for Isaiah and Elijah.
PROGRAM UPDATE: Serving the city's most vulnerable population

Room to Grow serves 350 families from all over New York City.  Our families represent the diversity of the city we live in.  Here's a snapshot of the clients Room to Grow serves.




Room to Grow's client population reflects the city's most vulnerable minority populations. Over half of our clients are of Hispanic descent, and 25% speak Spanish only.  Room to Grow has one full-time bilingual social worker who works with these families.


Place of Residency  


Room to Grow started in 1998 in East Harlem.  At the time Room to Grow primarily served families in the neighborhood.  In 2001, Room to Grow moved to our current location in the Flatiron District.  With six subway lines within a five block radius, we are now more centrally located, and families from all five boroughs are able to access our program space.   




Many of Room to Grow's clients (50%) are first time parents 24 to 34 years old looking for support as they raise their children.  Only 36% of our clients are under 24 years of age.  Despite their age, our parents actively seek out the education and guidance Room to Grow provides because they know the positive impact the program will have on the lives of their children and families. 




All of Room to Grow families have extreme financial need. Nearly all are eligible for subsidized prenatal care and have incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level.  65% of our clients are unemployed.  Room to Grow provides referrals for job training and employment services, helping our families to become more financially stable.




Most of our clients have not had access to quality educational opportunities, and fewer than 20% have graduated high school or obtained their GED.For many parents, the simple act of reading to their children is a struggle.  Room to Grow social workers are trained to identify low levels of literacy in parents, and introduce parents to resources fore increasing their own literacy level while also promoting healthy pre-literacy behaviors in their children.

Winter Gala 2013
Social worker Andrea Veras, Chyanne Reed and Whoopi Goldberg

January | 2013

2013 Winter Gala 

On January 31st, Room to Grow hosted its annual Winter Gala.   Over 350 guests filled the beautiful ballroom at the Mandarin Oriental. Academy Award winner Whoopi Goldberg presented Room to Grow graduate Chyanne Reed with the 2013 Client Inspiration Award. Chyanne was recognized for her commitment to being the best parent she can be for her children, despite numerous personal challenges she has faced. Guests enjoyed breathtaking views of Central Park while bidding in our auction on items such as vacation homes, exclusive tickets to sporting and entertainment events, and luxury handbags and jewelry. The Winter Gala generates critical funds for Room to Grow's holistic program providing one-on-one parenting education and guidance, connections to vital community services, as well as all the material necessities for a safe and enriching home environment. Click here to view photos from the 2013 Winter Gala.  


December | 2012

Family Holiday Party 

Room to Grow celebrated the holidays with client families in December. Over 60 families attended the annual Family Holiday Party, enjoying milk and cookies, arts and crafts, and a visit with Santa. Thanks to our toy registry partner Rosie Hippo and to generous supporters like you, each child received a brand new, age-appropriate educational toy to unwrap on Christmas.


March | 2013  

Toy Drive  

Help Room to Grow promote learning through play by participating in the Spring Toy Drive. Make a financial gift or purchase a toy from our registry. The educational and age-appropriate toys Room to Grow distributes at each visit help children develop cognitively, socially, and physically. To find out more about the Spring Toy Drive, visit our website.  



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