New York, NY—Robin Hood, New York City’s largest poverty-fighting organization, today announced the recipients of its 2014 Heroes Awards at a breakfast ceremony held at Cipriani 42nd Street in Manhattan. The Robin Hood Heroes Award is given annually to those organizations and individuals that are doing heroic work and improving the lives of thousands of low-income New Yorkers throughout our City.

This year’s honorees included Zearn, the Brooklyn Kindergarten Society and The River Fund.

Zearn instills the academic skills, love of academic learning and confidence students need to achieve success in school and in life, while the Brooklyn Kindergarten Society, established in 1891, was the first free kindergarten program in Brooklyn to provide early education for low-income children, and today provides innovative and educationally stimulating programs for more than 300 children throughout the most vulnerable neighborhoods in Brooklyn. And finally, The River Fund – which started as a one-man show devoted to helping people afflicted with HIV/AIDS in Queens, NY — has now evolved into a community-wide labor of love that finds ways to help people who would otherwise go hungry.

“The Heroes Breakfast is our favorite event of the year,” said David Saltzman, executive director of Robin Hood. “It’s a chance for us to recognize the extraordinary organizations that make New York City great by quietly and relentlessly helping the children, individuals and families get the support they need to better their lives. There are more than 1.8 million New Yorkers living in poverty, and the three Heroes we honor today are improving the lives of countless neighbors in very powerful and tangible ways. All of us owe them a debt of thanks along with our gratitude.”

Every organization honored this morning will receive an additional $50,000 grant from Robin Hood to help them continue and expand their efforts fighting poverty in New York City. The Robin Hood 2014 Heroes are:

Zearn—a non-profit digital learning organization that instills the academic skills, love of learning, and confidence students need to be successful in college and career. Zearn is led by some of the nation’s most successful teachers and education entrepreneurs, including the founders of KIPP, Uncommon Schools, and the Relay Graduate School of Education. They aspire to support millions of students, parents, and teachers through fun, interactive, and rigorous digital lessons that can be used to personalize instruction in class or at home. Zearn currently is developing K-8 math content and eventually expand to include all core subjects. You can visit www.zearn.org to learn more about their engaging approach to making learning fun.

Mr. David Levin, the co-founder of Zearn as well as co-founder of KIPP, The Relay Graduate School of Education, and the Character Lab accepted the award on Zearn’s behalf.

Brooklyn Kindergarten Society—for more than a century, the Brooklyn Kindergarten Society (BKS) has made it possible for low-income parents living in New York City Housing Authority apartments to provide their children with a safe and nurturing academic environment—close to home—that can greatly improve their chance of success in the future. BKS finds ways to equip children and their families with the tools they need to make learning fun and to help the youngest students (ages 2-5 years) develop a lifelong love of learning. Open twelve months a year with only a handful of holidays, BKS creates a loving, nurturing and challenging curriculum for its students throughout some of the poorest neighborhoods in Brooklyn: Bedford Stuyvesant, Crown Heights and Brownsville.

Executive director Jim Matison accepted the award on Brooklyn Kindergarten Society’s behalf.

The River Fund New York—from its origins as a one man effort to deliver comfort to people afflicted with HIV/AIDS, The River Fund New York is consistently creating innovative ways to fight hunger, homelessness and poverty all across New York City. It was a pioneer in receiving federal support for a Mobile Food Pantry, a deceptively simple but powerful idea that has benefited hungry residents across our area. The River Fund’s Mobile Food Pantry was integral in the survival of families and the elderly following the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, by getting food to those who were unable to leave their homes or find groceries to buy. In addition, The River Fund New York runs a weekly food pantry which allows people to select the food items they want. Over the years, their food pantry has grown into the largest in Queens, serving approximately 800 households every Saturday. Through its pantry and Mobile Operations, The River Fund New York now serves an average of 40,000 individuals annually.

The River Fund New York’s founder and executive director Swami Durga Das accepted the award on his organization’s behalf.

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

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