Rockaway Rising has been in the works since 2012 when Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast. The entire Rockaway peninsula flooded, leaving many people devastated.
In the aftermath, we came with volunteers from around the city to help address the immediate needs of the Far Rockaway community. That was our first introduction to this place we now call home.
...that Far Rockaway faced major challenges long before the hurricane, or that those challenges very much remained after relief efforts ceased. Over the last three years, we have been deeply moved watching the community come together to rise above their circumstances. These incredible families, schools and organizations have been fighting for better lives in the face of much adversity. They inspired us to think about what we could do to contribute.
In early December of 2015, we delivered toys to our neighbors, hoping to surprise them with gifts on Christmas morning. We were shocked to see happy, healthy school-aged children open door after door at almost every apartment we visited. When we asked 6-year-old Jalen why he wasn’t at school, he simply stated, “he didn’t feel like going,” and invited us in to play. Instead, we invited him to school, and drove Jalen and a few others down the road to PS 104, promising to return the next day to get them to school on time.
We had unknowingly stumbled across a community plagued by “Chronic Absenteeism” — defined as missing 10 percent or more of school days for any reason, excused or unexcused—which is a proven early warning sign of academic risk and school dropout.
While the national government and DeBlasio administration have pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to fund mentorship programs and ad campaigns to get America’s 6 million chronically absent students back into the classroom, we found that seemingly nothing has been done to help the 23% of K-8th graders and 48% of 9-12 graders who were classified as Chronically Absent in Far Rockaway.
In the Spring of 2015, we launched our #NoExcusesRockaway pilot to rally local businesses, non-profits, churches, and Rockaway residents to combat the dropout epidemic that plagues our neighborhood. Our goal is to create a comprehensive pipeline of services rooted in genuine friendship and mutual admiration to combat the chronic absenteeism that plagues our neighborhood. We believe that if we all work together, we can get every child in Far Rockaway to every class, every day.
Far Rockaway has it's own heroes
...And it's our desire to connect them with individuals and organizations around the country who wish to contribute.