"We prepare students to engage in the world that is and to help bring about a world that ought to be."

Friends Partners with 27 Non-Profits

Lower, Middle, and Upper School students spread out across the city on April 28 for the school's annual Day of Service, partnering with non-profits that deal with everything from composting to clean water initiatives to homeless outreach.
Lower, Middle, and Upper School students spread out across the city on April 28 for the school's annual Day of Service, partnering with non-profits that deal with everything from composting to clean water initiatives to homeless outreach.

At the school, ninth graders wrapped up their service learning project, Youth Philanthropy Initiative, which began in January. Students were split into teams of four or five and tasked with choosing a social issue and an organization in New York City that works to address that issue. Students presented their research—which included a trip to the site of their chosen organization—in class, and eight teams were chosen to present at the Meetinghouse during Day of Service. A panel of judges, which included faculty, students, and members of philanthropic organizations, were on hand to choose the winning group. The winners would receive $5,000 for their chosen organization courtesy of the Toskan Casale Foundation.

“It's a significant part of their freshman year experience,” teacher Jamie Lieberman says of the project. The issues that the students chose ranged from homelessness to domestic violence to LGBTQ bullying. The ninth graders found creative ways to get their messages across: the members of the LGBTQ bullying team wore different colored long-sleeved shirts, to symbolize a rainbow. The students who chose homelessness as their issue began their presentation by asking anyone in the audience who had witnessed homelessness to stand. Everyone stood. The students spoke “very much from the heart,” Lieberman said. “They clearly cared about the issues and the non-profits and were very much invested in wanting to convey that to the audience.”

The top prize went to a team that chose police misconduct as its topic. The organization which they represented, The Innocence Project, was awarded $5,000. Secondary prizes — provided by the Friends Seminary Parent Association and by a fundraising effort on the part of the students themselves — went to the Doe Fund, which helps homeless men get back on their feet, and Safe Horizon, a non-profit that helps victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and homeless youth.

To view the presentations, click here.

Fourth graders began the day close to home, assisting the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association with a clean-up of the neighboring park, while fifth graders trekked out to Governor's Island to visit Earth Matter's Compost Learning Center as part of a year-long service initiative related to people who are working to address environmental issues. The students have partnered with a local compost pick-up service called Reclaimed Organics, which comes to the school three days a week to pick up organic waste from the kitchen. The fifth graders have been gathering data on food waste in the school, with the goal of diverting as much waste from landfills as possible. Their visit to the Compost Learning Center on Governor's Island gave them a chance to learn more about the composting process at a facility that processes 28,000 pounds of food scraps every month.

Meanwhile, sixth graders took to Central Park in a partnership with H2O for Life, a non-profit that works with schools in the United States to provide clean water initiatives for developing countries. The sixth graders, who have also been studying the California drought in science class, participated in a Walk for Water, a simulation of the typical journey a person must travel in a developing country just to find clean water. The students walked 3 kilometers carrying a gallon of water each, to simulate the experience of children who do not have easy access to clean water. After the activity, they reflected on the difference between their simulation and the reality of gathering safe water in developing countries.

The sixth graders raised funds for the walk from friends and family, but Dean of Co-Curricular Programs Leitzel Schoen said, “We want them to know about the issue. We don't focus on how much money is raised.”In past years, the sixth graders have helped install three wells and one latrine in South Sudan. Schoen discussed the importance of learning and doing in the overall approach to the School's service learning program. Another example she shared involved the 11th grade's focus on the issues of hunger in America. While students spent the first half of the day volunteering with several community organizations supporting those facing food insecurity, the second half of the day was spent peeling back the layers and complexities of the hunger challenge in our nation. Advisories viewed the documentary, A Place at the Table, and will have further opportunities to continue discussions and advocate for legislative changes.

Friends Seminary's senior class headed even further north, to the AFYA Foundation's headquarters in Yonkers, to help sort medical supplies to send to Nepal. The AFYA Foundation collects unused medical supplies from hospitals and doctors' offices and re-diverts them to disaster relief foundations. Some of the students who helped sort materials at AFYA's headquarters had visited Nepal just weeks earlier during Spring Break as part of a global education trip.

Partner Non-Profit Organizations:

Friends Shelter
Parks Department
Earth Matter
H2O for Life
Water for South Sudan
Advocates for Children
Success Academy Charter School: Springfield Gardens
LES Ecology Center
Rational Animal
Human Impacts Institute
Bowery Residents Committee
Safe Horizon
Innocence Project
DOE Fund
Gigi’s Playhouse
Volunteers of America
Staten Island Greenbelt Conservancy
Food Bank for NYC

New York Common Pantry
St. John's Bread & Life
St. James Church
LIC Community Boathouse
Friends Seminary — the oldest continuously operated, coeducational school in NYC — serves college-bound day students in Kindergarten-Grade 12.

222 East 16th Street
New York, NY 10003
P: 212-979-5030
F: 212.979.5034