Immigrant Social Services (ISS) was created 45 years ago as a non-profit tax exempt organization to improve the condition and promote the welfare of immigrants and other indigent or underprivileged persons living in the Lower East Side of Manhattan in NYC. We have been doing so by furnishing instruction in English, supervising recreational activities, disseminating information with respect to problems and opportunities in the fields of housing, employment, vocational training and the availability of medical care, legal aid, education, recreation and welfare.
ISS has also worked extensively with children in the LES/Chinatown community’s public schools and their parents, where an overwhelming super-majority are limited English proficient and/or from mono-lingual Chinese speaking households. The challenges of adapting to a new country; learning a new language; navigating vastly different social, governmental, public and private systems and work environments; and inadequate housing and limited employment opportunities often leave parents at a loss as to how best to nurture and guide their children to be high achieving and resilient young people. ISS has been successful in partnering with parents, principals, teachers and other school personnel, and community stakeholders to enhance such at-risk/high-risk children’s protective factors that delay/reduce/prevent negative health, social, and educational behaviors and activities for over 4 decades. ISS is presently working in 4 area schools: PS 2, PS 42, PS 126 and PS 130 serving over 600 students daily.
We collaboratively plan and design our programs with the school partner to ensure the needs of that school’s population are met. Our afterschool and summer day camp programs augment the school’s academic lessons and activities. ISS is committed to delivering rigorous and varied content in our afterschool programs that aim to broaden the students’ future opportunities in the community and beyond, nurture and develop their skills and confidence to be agents of change. Our programs include homework help and tutoring; expanded enrichment activities that cover literacy, science, technology, engineering, math (STEM); project-based learning; the arts and the use of the Lower East Side/Chinatown neighborhood and its cultural resources as a learning lab.
ISS also works with children and young adults that range between middle school and college through our NY Flightz Basketball program. This structured program not only develops teamwork skills, the discipline, and fitness of the child; it also strengthens their leadership and community engagements skills by engaging them in a variety of community service projects.
Finally, to ensure the child’s wise and healthy decision making processes, we provide critical and age appropriate chemical/drug dependency and problem gambling prevention support services, through our on-going grant from NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS).