Press Release

America’s Promise Alliance Presents the Colin and Alma Powell Legacy Award To The Vito Marcantonio School (PS/IS 50) in East Harlem

PS/IS 50 to Receive $100,000 Award at Alliance’s 10th Anniversary Celebration

(ALEXANDRIA, VA)—America’s Promise Alliance announced today that The Vito Marcantonio School (PS/IS 50) in East Harlem, NY, has been awarded the $100,000 Colin and Alma Powell Legacy Award in recognition of the school’s commitment to and practice of its “whole student” philosophy of learning and living. 

PS/IS 50’s Principal Rebekah Marler-Mitchell, who has been instrumental in her school’s transformation, will accept the Legacy Award at the Alliance’s 10th anniversary celebration tonight in New York City from America’s Promise Founding Chair General Colin Powell and current Chair Alma Powell.  The Legacy Award will be presented annually to honor the Powells’ commitment to and advocacy on behalf of America’s children, particularly the country’s most disadvantaged young people.

“The Vito Marcantonio School’s full-service and holistic approach to learning surrounds students and their families with the necessary support systems that make school and life successes possible,” said Alma Powell. “There is no better way for the Alliance to celebrate its 10th anniversary than to recognize a school and principal that work tirelessly to ensure that children experience the critical resources we call the Five Promises: caring adults, a safe place, an effective education, a healthy start and opportunities to help others. PS/IS 50 exemplifies the Five Promises experience.”

Since arriving at PS/IS 50 in July 2004, Principal Marler-Mitchell took a school that was failing and spearheaded multiple efforts to improve the quality of the school, developing key programs and partnerships within the community. Marler-Mitchell worked closely with PS/IS 50 partners City Year and Children's Aid Society to support the goal of implementing effective literacy instruction.

Additionally, Marler-Mitchell worked to establish a partnership with the New York Center for Autism charter school that has created unprecedented opportunities for both organizations through the creation of a state-of-the-art life skills center for collaborative learning and a program that engages PS/IS 50’s middle school students in service learning as peer mentors for students with autism. She has also helped secure a partnership with Stickball Arts, an arts in education nonprofit that provides marketable job skills training to middle and high school students.

PS/IS 50, which has an on-site health care center that assists with the physical and mental health well-being of its 530 K-7th grade students and their families, also aims to increase parental involvement through its school-based “PTA/Family Room,” where parents, students and staff together learn about topics ranging from green-cleaning to healthy cooking, as well as standard adult education courses. Marler-Mitchell said she hopes to expand the offerings of the PTA/Family Room as a result of the Legacy Award.

"We are honored to receive an award from America's Promise because their mission encapsulates our belief that the needs of the whole child must be addressed for true life-long learning to occur.  We created the symbol of a tree to represent our school because we believe that students flourish only when they are planted in community experiences that integrate their hearts, minds, and spirits,” said Principal Marler-Mitchell.  “This award will enable us to grow the visions and dreams of our existing partnerships into real life experiences our children participate in each day.  We have witnessed first hand the power school communities have to begin transforming the educational landscapes of their students' lives when they work strategically and purposefully to act as hubs of opportunity and access for all students, and we applaud the work America's Promise is doing to ensure that this becomes a reality for every child in America."

Alma Powell also pointed out that PS/IS 50 exemplifies the goal of the Alliance’s new 15 in 5 campaign, which is to ensure that over the next five years, 15 million at-risk young people experience at least one more of the Five Promises.  The 15 in 5 campaign will be driven by three National Action Strategies in communities across the country:

All Kids Covered: Work together to enroll all eligible children in health insurance. There are 6.5 million children who are eligible for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program or Medicaid, but currently not enrolled.
Ready for The Real World: Work together to engage middle-schoolers in service learning and career exploration to deepen their motivation for achievement in their world – including school, community and the workplace.

Where the Kids Are: Beginning with schools as hubs, work together to deliver more of the Five Promises where kids already congregate. Reaching youth where they gather makes it more likely that they will receive the support they need from people who already know them by name.

“The Legacy Award honors the commitment Colin and Alma Powell have made to improving the lives of children everywhere, and it is fitting that a school which embodies the belief that all children deserve America’s promise is the Legacy Award’s first recipient,” said Marguerite W. Kondracke, president and CEO, America’s Promise Alliance. “Our vision is that millions more children will experience the Five Promises and wrap-around supports delivered daily to the students at PS/IS 50.”

About the America’s Promise Alliance.
America’s Promise Alliance is the nation’s largest partnership alliance comprised of corporations, nonprofit organizations, foundations, policymakers, advocacy and faith groups committed to ensuring that children receive the fundamental resources - the Five Promises – they need to lead successful, healthy and productive lives and build a stronger society. Building on the legacy of our founder General Colin Powell, the Alliance believes a child’s success  is grounded in experiencing the Five Promises - caring adults; safe place; a healthy start; an effective education; and opportunities to help others - at home, in school and in the community.