2013 Robin Hood Heroes

New York, NY—Robin Hood, New York City’s largest poverty-fighting organization, today announced the recipients of its 2013 Heroes Awards at a breakfast ceremony held at Cipriani 42nd Street in Manhattan.

Honorees are The Center for Court Innovation, Hometown Heroes, The Restaurant Opportunity Center, and Success Academy Charter Schools.

Three of the organizations were commended for their groundbreaking efforts helping to combat poverty in New York City, while Hometown Heroes was recognized for its tremendous efforts helping residents of New Jersey recover from Superstorm Sandy.

“The Heroes Breakfast is an opportunity for us to come together to celebrate remarkable achievements by ordinary citizens that help make our city great,” said David Saltzman, executive director of Robin Hood. “All of today’s honorees have demonstrated incredible dedication and commitment to provide real-world solutions that benefit their neighbors in need, and all of them are truly worthy of the title ‘Hero.’”

Each of the organizations at this morning’s breakfast received a $50,000 grant from Robin Hood to help them continue and expand their efforts.

The Center for Court Innovation creates common-sense, highly innovative solutions to the problems that plague our court systems and communities. Robin Hood has funded a number of its programs over the years, and today Robin Hood spotlighted one of the most effective initiatives, the Red Hook Community Justice Center. This non-traditional, problem-solving community court serves Red Hook and its surrounding Brooklyn neighborhoods. The court doesn’t simply mete out justice; it provides direction to show defendants that a better life is possible. The innovative efforts of the Red Hook Community Justice Center have helped reduce recidivism in the community by 44 percentage points.

Tina Dixons frequently appeared before Red Hook’s Judge Alex Calabrese as a defendant; after living on the streets for ten years and multiple appearances in court, Judge Calabrese helped Tina turn her life around. He convinced her to enter a drug treatment program and she received counseling to help put her on a path to recovery. Tina and Judge Calabrese became such close friends that she asked him to officiate at her wedding, which he proudly did in 2009. Tina now works as a health coordinator of a substance-abuse program helping others receive the help they need to achieve a better life.
Judge Alex accepted the Robin Hood Heroes Award on behalf of the Center for Court Innovation.

Hometown Heroes supports local communities in the state of New Jersey during times of crisis and was honored for its extraordinary efforts in helping residents of New Jersey rebuild and recover from the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy. Through its efforts, Hometown Heroes has helped thousands of Garden State residents by distributing funds to provide (among other things) rental assistance, home repair payments, and furniture for low-income residents.

In fact, Hometown Heroes was so effective, it was chosen to lead New Jersey’s “Restore the Shore” campaign.
Eric Katz—who received funding from Hometown Heroes to help rebuild his home after it was destroyed following Sandy—accepted the award on Hometown Heroes’ behalf.

The Restaurant Opportunity Center (ROC) was founded after September 11, 2001 by surviving restaurant workers from Windows on the World. Seventy-three Windows on the World workers died on 9/11. This organization began as a mutual support group helping those in the restaurant industry to find work, and training each other for better paying jobs in the industry.

Today, the Center is improving working conditions for thousands of the nation’s low-wage restaurant workforce, and has affiliates in cities across the country including Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Sekou Siby—a kitchen worker at Windows on the World—survived because a friend asked him to trade shifts; that friend died on 9/11. Sekou was one of the original organizers of ROC New York and today he is Deputy Director of ROC United. He accepted the Robin Hood Heroes Award on behalf of ROC New York.

Success Academy Charter Schools opened in 2006 to tackle the problem of inadequate and inequitable public education in the largest and most prominent city in the United States, New York City. Founder Eva Moskowitz set out to build world-class schools—engaging, academically rigorous, economically efficient schools—and prove that all kids can excel, across neighborhoods and across racial, ethnic, and socio-economic lines.
Today, with 22 world-class elementary and middle schools, serving almost 6,700 children from Brooklyn to the Bronx, Moskowitz has proved that theory many times over. Success Academy scholars—primarily high-risk, low-income inner city kids—have achieved tremendous academic success, scoring in the top 1% in math and the top 7% in English Language Arts among all New York State schools.

Eva Moskowitz, CEO of Success Academy, accepted the Robin Hood Heroes award.

To view brief videos about each of today’s honorees, and to learn more about these extraordinary organizations and individuals, please click here: robinhood.org/initiatives/heroes

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