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New York Life Foundation Awards $300,000 to the Youth Development Institute

Grant Supports Expansion of Afterschool Programming For Middle School Students in New York City

NEW YORK, N.Y., November 21, 2011 — The New York Life Foundation today announced a two-year, $300,000 grant to the Youth Development Institute (YDI) to support the expansion of the Ladders to Leadership Program for middle school youth attending afterschool programs at nine sites throughout New York City.

“The support from the New York Life Foundation will make a difference in the lives of many middle school students in New York City and enhance the professional growth of those who work with them,” said Sandra Escamilla, executive director of the Youth Development Institute. “The funding enables our organization to support the growth and development of young people and to ultimately help them succeed in high school and college.”

“Providing youth with enriching development programs during ‘out-of-school’ time is critical to helping students learn skills they need to succeed in school and later in life,” said Marlyn Torres, assistant vice president, New York Life Foundation. “We are pleased to be able to help YDI expand their best practices to sites that serve youth throughout New York City.”

YDI will work with nine sites to implement the Ladders to Leadership Program model for middle school youth:

Center for Family Life at P.S. 1
Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation at I.S. 302
El Puente Beacon at M.S.50
Good Shepherd Beacon at P.S. 15

Mosholu Montefiore Community Center-Seton Falls Beacon at M.S. 142
Phipps Beacon

Hudson Guild Beacon

Child Center Basie Beacon at M.S. 72Q
Samuel Field Y at M.S. 172

Through the Ladders to Leadership Program, youth participate in a program that is delineated by stages, or “rungs,” that consist of progressively more challenging roles and responsibilities, for example:

  • The first rung focuses on skill building in the context of individual goal setting, teambuilding and involvement in program events.
  • The second rung includes involvement in planning and carrying out events in their communities.
  • The third rung includes hands-on experience working with children or the elderly.
  • The fourth rung includes job skills training and paid employment in an afterschool setting.

The goal of this structured approach is to enable young people to solve problems; communicate effectively; work in groups; and plan, execute and reflect on their goals and achievements.

About the Youth Development Institute

Founded in 1991, the Youth Development Institute (YDI) helps strengthen youth-serving programs throughout New York City. YDI provides professional development training, disseminates information and best practices, informs policy, and conducts research to strengthen the quality and increase the availability of effective youth development programs. YDI works with approximately 75 organizations that work with thousands of youth across a variety of settings including community-based centers, schools, museums, and libraries. The programs with which YDI works serve a high number of youth who are struggling or behind in school. YDI helps organizations improve their programs so that in turn, youth are better served. To learn more, please visit

About The New York Life Foundation

Inspired by New York Life’s tradition of service and humanity, the New York Life Foundation has, since its founding in 1979, provided more than $140 million in charitable contributions to national and local nonprofit organizations. Through its focus on “Nurturing the Children,” the Foundation supports programs that benefit young people, particularly in the areas of safe places to learn and grow, educational enhancement opportunities and childhood bereavement. The Foundation also encourages and facilitates the community involvement of employees, agents, and retirees of New York Life through its Volunteers for Life program. To learn more, please visit the Foundation's Web site at