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9 East Harlem Organizations Win $25K City Grants to Improve Community

 The staff at Sisterhood Mobilized for AIDS/HIV Research & Treatment, or SMART, which was one of nine organizations that won $25,000 from the city for health-related community improvement grants.
The staff at Sisterhood Mobilized for AIDS/HIV Research & Treatment, or SMART, which was one of nine organizations that won $25,000 from the city for health-related community improvement grants.
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HARLEM — The city will hand out $25,000 grants to nine community organizations working to improve lives in East Harlem.

“Community groups and partners are our greatest resource for improving health outcomes in East Harlem,” said city Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett, whose department funded the grants.

The winning projects range from healthy eating programs to emergency disaster planning to anti-violence groups.

Sisterhood Mobilized for AIDS/HIV Research & Treatment, or SMART, an East Harlem treatment and prevention program for women living with or affected by HIV, was one of the lucky organizations whose projects stood out to the judges.

Susan Rodriguez, the founder and director of SMART, said the funds will be used for the organization’s “SMART Food For Life” program, which trains community members — called SMART Ambassadors — to teach healthy eating and cooking classes.

“Obviously we’re excited and happy to have received it,” said Rodriguez.

“It’s really going to help us in our classes and in the community… It will definitely pay for four stipend positions and provide training for them to get the skills they need.”

Rodriguez, who has been living with HIV for the past 25 years and founded the organization in 1998, said she learned that nutrition is an integral part of living with the virus.  

“Nutrition has been a major reason why I’m here, not just the medication,” she said.

The other organizations include:

Concrete Safaris’ Outdoor Leadership Academy, an internship program, will expand internships for local 14 to 24-year-olds who want to pursue environmental health careers.

Cada Paso,  a monthly walking program for families in East Harlem that connects residents to various health services, will expand.

East Harlem Council for Human Services, which provides various health services to residents, will hire peer educators, fitness instructors, smoking cessation professionals and a case worker for its East Harlem “Up, Out & Healthy” program.

East Harlem Community Organizations Active in Disasters (COAD), a local public health organization, will work to bolster its outreach and designing of an emergency preparedness campaign in East Harlem.

Exodus Transitional Community, which provides supportive services to formerly incarcerated men and women, will work on an anti-violence initiative for at-risk youths.

Harvest Home Farmer’s Market, which provides fresh produce to underserved communities, will bring healthy eating tips to seniors at local community centers and NYCHA buildings.

Operation Equivalency, a tutoring organization, will expand its adult education and English language program for residents who speak other languages.  

SCAN New York, a nonprofit that provides afterschool and employment services for youths, will host six of its Pop Up Healthy Food Cafés and cooking classes in East Harlem for NYCHA residents. 

The city partnered with the New York Academy of Medicine and received additional funding from New York State Health Foundation and the Mount Sinai Health System for the grants.