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We fly high! Kites for Peace Day

Sep 28, 2017

SASF joined the Kites for Peace Day celebration on Saturday, September 23. This annual event hosted attendees of all ages as they designed, built, and let their kites take flight. Kites displayed colorful imagery and symbols that represented their personal thoughts on peace. In honor of the United Nations General Assembly and International Peace Day, SASF students recognized the importance of human rights as they incorporated STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) learning.

Students participated in kite-making workshops as well as a special kite-flying demonstration by American kiteflier and educator Archie Stewart.

381K Steppers Steal the Show!

Excitement was an understatement.

The SONYC afterschool leadership team, Keith Hicks, Director, and Deputy Director Lizette Martinez, identified a step team to participate in the 48th Annual African-American Day Parade on Sunday, September 17. Which step team? Only the very best – hailing from Brooklyn, SASF’s own IS 381K program.

It did not end there. The talented group of 10 steppers and SASF staff members had the distinguished honor to march alongside New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, First Lady Chirlane McCray, Civil Rights activist, and past national president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Hazel Dukes, and other elected officials.

“Step dance has African roots and is an African American tradition. Our steppers from IS 381 work hard day in and day out to practice and perfect the complex rhythms, foot movement and hand claps that make this tradition one that portrays strength, team work and can send a powerful message. We are grateful to SONYC for the invitation of our youth to take part in an event that celebrates culture, heritage and legacy,” said Michelle Durante, Director of the Arts.

Lettuce Celebrate Cooking at SASF

Food Explorers kicks off its third year as SASF’s nutrition education program. This season is going to be hot, hot, hot!  After students have completed the first two levels (Mindful Eating Journey and New York City Adventure) of Food Explorers, they will participate in Lettuce Celebrate Cooking.. SASF students have responded so well to the program that encourages trying new foods, preparing cold recipes, and learning about their bodies and core nutrition concepts that will help shape their own eating habits. However,  the focus has never been solely on cooking.  

Lettuce Celebrate Cooking will teach our students what roles they can have in the kitchen safely and healthfully while making yummy recipes. The curriculum is 20 lessons long – 10 lessons more than the first two curriculums. The program also includes 40 recipes, both hot and cold, so that each site can select which may work best for their students, budget, and resources. Along with the numerous delicious recipes that will challenge our students and facilitators to try new foods and cooking methods, each lesson talks about core cooking principles that our students will be able to take home with them Many of our students do and will prepare snacks and meals for themselves.

Food Explorers has always been about “fun with food” and this curriculum is no different. Just check out some of the lessons’ titles! Can you see a common theme?

  • I just want peas on earth
  • I yam who I yam
  • Romaine calm and try new things
  • Don’t be cornfused
  • My heart beets for you

Food Explorers is SASF’s nutrition education curriculum, one because it’s written in house by SASF Registered Dietitians and nutritionists who listen to SASF site feedback but also because it’s SASF approved! 12 SASF staff members had a chance to roll up their sleeves and cook many of the recipes included in the curriculum. Below you’ll find two fan favorites!

Pineapple Fried Rice

Serves: 30 (¼ cup per serving)

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Equipment: Hot Plate, Large Sauté Pan, Small Mixing Bowl, Can Opener, Whisk, Facilitator and Student Knives and Cutting Boards, Measuring Cups, Measuring Spoons


 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 eggs, scrambled

1 medium red bell pepper

1 ear corn, removed from cob (can use ½ can corn as alternative)

2 medium carrot

2 stalk green onion

2 packets instant brown rice (about 2 cups)

1 cup pineapple

3 tablespoon cilantro

4 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce


  1. Cook brown rice in microwave according to package directions. Set aside.
  2. In a large sauté pan or wok, heat oil over medium-high heat.
  3. Crack eggs into a small bowl and scramble with a fork or whisk. Add to the large sauté pan and cook throughout.
  4. Add chopped bell pepper and peeled and chopped carrots. Cook 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add diced green onions and cook another minute.
  6. Stir in cooked rice, chopped pineapple, chopped cilantro, and soy sauce and stir to combine.
  7. Add additional soy sauce, as desired.

 Mango Guacamole

 Serves: 30 (2 tablespoons per serving)

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Equipment:  Medium Mixing Bowl, Small Mixing Bowl, Mixing Spoon, Potato Masher, Citrus Reamer, Facilitator and Student Knives and Cutting Boards, Measuring Spoons.  


2 medium avocados

1 jalapeño pepper (optional)

1/2 medium red tomato

1 clove garlic

1 lime

1 fresh mango

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 bag tortilla chips, whole wheat or multigrain


  1. If adding jalapeños, chop the jalapeños into tiny pieces. Place in small bowl and set aside.
  2. Remove skin from mango. Dice and add to small bowl
  3. Dice the tomato and add to small bowl
  4. Remove pit and skins from avocado and toss. Place the avocado in a medium-sized bowl. Mash the avocado with the back of your fork or a potato masher to the consistency you want. Some people like their guacamole chunky and others do not.
  5. Add in the jalapeños, tomatoes, and mango and mix throughout. Squeeze 1 lime into the mixture, season with salt and pepper, and mix well. Serve with whole wheat or multigrain tortilla chips

See you in the kitchen this season and don’t forget, be brave and DON’T YUCK MY YUM!

Staff Spotlight: Meet Margie Baker

Tell us what brought you to SASF! How long have you been with us?

As a New York City Principal, I have had a long-standing relationship with the Agency.  I was the principal of Department of Youth Community Development (DYCD) school, 21st Century School, and an Attendance Improvement and Drop-Out Prevention (AIDP) Community School.  After I retired, I could not think of a better place to begin the next chapter of my professional life. At the end of August, I officially joined SASF.

What did you do prior to joining team SASF?

I was with the NYC Department of Education for almost 28 years. Throughout my tenure, I served as Principal, Assistant Principal, District Assigned Staff Developer/Teacher Trainer, and Teacher. Prior to this appointment, I worked for RBSCC as Director of Family and Youth Services and Assistant Executive Director of Development.

It has been a very exciting last (and first?) month for you! What are you most proud of?

It has been an extremely exciting month or so. Officially, I began the first day of Boot Camp and was able to meet so many wonderful Site Directors and Program Managers. It was an amazing exposure.  I am most proud of joining the Education Department and defining our departmental mission so that we can effectively support the SASF organization at headquarters but more importantly in the schools.   

Tell me about someone who has already inspired you at SASF.  

I am most inspired by the hard work and dedication of Janice Caban. She is tireless in her efforts to keep program running effectively and efficiently. She supports the administration completely and totally and does so with absolute commitment.  I am very moved by her dedication to program and the agency. In my observation, Janice is often the first one in and last one out. She is also the first to offer assistance and provide expertise. She inspires me to be part of a team and reminds me that there is no I in TEAM.  

How do you keep a healthy work/life balance?

While I don’t think there is one single answer, I try very hard to remember what drives me at my core and prioritize my time to ensure that I have time for what makes me happy. I try to be 100 percent present wherever I am.  If I am at work, I am here and committed to whatever I am doing. The same applies when work is over. It is difficult to find a balance but I try.  

What do you think is the most important quality you need to have for success?  

Self-confidence, commitment and perseverance. When I was young, my father and mother always said, “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” I believed it. I work hard, commit fully and persevere.   

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I think my greatest professional achievement is dedicating my life to young people.  I cannot imagine a more noble profession and I am most proud of dedicating me entire life to it. So, a life of service is my greatest achievement.  

8 Reasons We’re Excited for the School Year

Aug 29, 2017

The 2017-2018 school year is just around the corner…and we cannot wait to start! Here are the 8 reasons why you should be as excited as we are.

8. SASF’s Young Professional Council invites you to the 4th Annual SASF Back to School Fundraiser! Our event will be held Thursday, September 21, 2017 at Toshi’s Penthouse in the Flatiron District. All proceeds benefit SASF programs. To purchase tickets, click here.

7. Launching this October, our own Sports & Wellness team will host its first annual Elementary School Flag Football mini league. Coming to a school near you!

6. Imagine collecting piece of Autumn nature, create a massive, symmetrical composition of the materials to then destroy it! SASF students will be doing just that in this unique activity, Earthworks Mandala. Don’t worry – we’ll have photos!

5. This year’s Elect to Be Fit event’s theme is The Hunger Games. This annual team-based challenge will take place on Election Day (November 7) and will include sports, fitness, and nutrition components.
4. SASF is bringing art to life through movement. Students will create “live art” on film with their bodies and props. This activity, Visuals through Movement, breaks the mold of traditional painting, drawing, or sculpture techniques.

3. Did you know that SASF will open its doors to 105 programs this year?

2. This year’s theme is technology! SASF is excited to offer even more opportunities to our students by implementing the rigorous use of video, integrated projects using computers, digital arts, an online Gallery, STEAM projects, and a focus on internet/web based programs to highlight our activities, special events, and service-learning initiatives.

1. SASF was awarded 4 Beacon Center grants from The Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD)! Open after school evenings and weekends, Beacons are school based initiatives that seek to promote positive developments for all participants by creating a trusted, neighborhood hub with opportunities for all participants to develop skills, increase their personal and family well-being. A total of 4,800 participants including students, their parents, siblings and community residents will be served across four schools.

The four Beacons are: PS 264K in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn; PS 14Q in Corona, Queens; MS 109Q in Queens Village, Queens and 560M in Lower Manhattan.