COVID-19 Response

covid-19 notice

June 4, 2020

Help Save Our Summer Camp
WHEDco has operated our Summer Arts Day Camp every summer since 1998, providing thousands of Bronx children with academic and arts enrichment and access to cultural institutions across NYC. For the first time in 22 years, we won’t be able to offer our typical camp — at a time when summer programming is especially needed to help children cope with trauma and reduce summer learning loss after a disrupted school year.

The City’s budget cuts for the upcoming fiscal year eliminate $213 million in funding for summer youth programs. But we are committed to providing some form of camp, similar to the After School LIVE programming we have offered for the past two months, to continue changing the narrative for children of color living in our neighborhoods.

Please help us support young people this summer by making a donation today!

Nourishing Our Families: Body & Spirit
Thanks to the generosity of several institutional funders, including a $100,000 grant from the Garden of Dreams Foundation, and many individual donors, WHEDco has distributed $90,000 in grocery store gift cards to date, reaching 600 families and counting.

Helping Small Businesses Survive
Among those suffering from the current economic crisis are nearly 400 home-based childcare providers in our Licensed Network — who are caring for children of essential workers — and the 500+ small business owners along the commercial corridors near our affordable housing developments – mostly people of color. To help these entrepreneurs during the COVID-19 crisis, WHEDco is:

  • Conducting daily health checks for childcare providers, providing PPE and connecting them to resources for food access, education technology, and mental health and emotional support services;
  • Connecting business owners to one-on-one financial management and free expert legal services through partnerships with Start Small Think Big and Volunteers of Legal Services (VOLS), respectively;
  • Holding virtual trainings and webinars, including COVID-19-related resources;
  • Providing remote technical assistance to help businesses get online, adapt to e-commerce, and market their products and services to meet new demand;
  • And helping small food businesses — another essential service — adapt and continue to produce food in WHEDco’s incubator kitchen, Bronx CookSpace.

April 30, 2020

WHEDco is tremendously grateful for the outpouring of support in response to our $40,000 Matching Gift Challenge. Thanks to the generosity of more than 50 donors throughout the month of April, we exceeded our goal for this initiative, which will ensure food security for hundreds of vulnerable Bronx families throughout the coming weeks of this crisis.

Announcement: April 21, 2020

Food Security
As of April 21, we have raised $33,000 toward our $40,000 matching challenge. These funds have allowed us to begin distributing grocery store gift cards to 200 families across our programs to help meet households’ nutritional needs. We will continue supporting these families, and others as they are identified, in this way and through the distribution of pre-packaged snacks and meals provided by private partners. If you can, please consider making a gift to help us meet our food relief matching challenge before the end of the month.

Technology & Continuity of Education
Our Youth Development & Education staff recently launched After School Live, offering live and recorded video activities, such as American Sign Language, Fashion Design, Chess, Yoga, and Hip Hop Dance, and Class Check-ins to engage youth after the school day. Our pre-school teachers continue to facilitate distance learning for 111 children and their families. Silvana Vasconcelos, the Director of our Early Childhood Discovery Center, highlighted the strategies and technology her team is using, thanks to a generous contribution from the Edith Glick Shoolman Children’s Foundation, on Pix11 last week.

Critical Ongoing Support to Families & Small Businesses
WHEDco continues to provide an array of critical services to the community, including Home-based Childcare for essential workers and working parents; Mental Health, Public Benefits, Legal and Food Resources to our building and community residents; Small Business Support and Technical Assistance for local entrepreneurs as they experience losses in income and revenues; and Affordable Housing, as families continue to sign leases and move into their new homes at Bronx Commons.

As an anchor organization in our community, we are committed to keeping a pulse on needs and responding as quickly and responsibly as we can for the long term.

Announcement: April 4, 2020

Over the past two weeks, WHEDco has rolled out the following interventions, in addition to the measures we had already taken in mid-March.

Food Security: We have raised nearly $20,000 from generous and concerned donors like you, and received a $40,000 matching challenge, effectively doubling the value of all future monetary gifts for food support up to $40,000! These funds will help WHEDco provide groceries to hundreds of high-need families. Starting this week, several private partners will also help us distribute pre-packaged snacks and produce to hundreds of families.

Technology: Thanks to support from the Edith Glick Shoolman Children’s Foundation and other partners, children in our Early Childhood Discovery Center and After School Programs are able to participate in distance learning activities using Chromebooks. Our educators have rolled out video instruction to foster continuity of education and create a sense of normalcy for kids. As an example, here’s a video of Melissa, a 3-year old enrolled in our pre-school, making circular burbujas (bubbles) as part of our Center’s literacy unit on Water.

Home-based Childcare for Working Parents and Essential Workers: WHEDco is connecting essential workers to licensed childcare providers within our Network.

Mental Health, Public Benefits, Legal, and Food Resources: Our social workers and case managers continue to be in regular communication with our building and community residents, including families in our school-based programs. Our team is assessing needs, providing counseling and connecting families to critical food, public benefits, health, and legal resources in real time.

Small Business Support: Our Community Development department is connecting local entrepreneurs to resources that will help them weather the economic downturn and loss of revenue and income. We have begun providing remote technical assistance to help businesses get online, adapt to offer e-commerce, and market their products and services to meet new demand. Small food manufacturing businesses –an essential service– are also adapting and continuing to produce food in Bronx CookSpace.

Affordable Housing: Families continue to sign leases and move into their brand new homes at Bronx Commons! In a time when housing security is a growing concern, we are proud to provide beautiful, safe and affordable apartments in the Bronx.

We are deeply grateful to everyone who has supported us so far!

Announcement: March 19, 2020

WHEDco remains committed to supporting our South Bronx community during and certainly in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis.

Following the City’s guidance and in an effort to support the health and wellbeing of the individuals and families we serve, our staff, and our overall community, we have made the difficult decision to close temporarily our Early Childhood Discovery Center, Afterschool Programs, and the Bronx Music Heritage Center. We have also reduced in-person interactions with clients participating in our programs. Instead, we have transitioned to providing services to meet clients’ needs through other means. For the full announcement, click here!

Mental Health Counseling & Case Management

Aware of the strain that this public health and economic crisis is having on the families we serve, our licensed social workers, case managers, and educators continue to provide a variety of support services, including:

  • Close communication with parents of our pre-school program to better understand and meet their needs, while exploring ways to institute remote learning for 3- and 4-year olds in our program;
  • Our school-based social workers continue to work with students and their families, and liaise with the schools’ administration to ensure that our families’ needs are being met; and
  • Our mental health counselors continue to support their clients through regular phone counseling sessions.

Home-Based Childcare Provider Services

We continue to offer support to parents and home-based childcare providers in our network in the following ways:

  • Making childcare referrals to parents, including those who work in the essential services;
  • Granting providers access to lesson plans and other resources to facilitate teaching and learning;
  • Encouraging providers in our network to plan for remote learning to continue to support children’s development, and to effectively transition to remote learning if they are no longer providing in-home services to children;
  • Reviewing and processing provider claims for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP);
  • Processing enrollments for license-exempt caregivers; and
  • Conducting unannounced in-person investigation visits to childcare providers when a child welfare concern is reported.

Small Business Support

Because we have already begun seeing the negative economic impact of this health emergency on the local landscape, we are continuing to provide services to small business owners, including those in our commercial corridors, as well as the community members who rely on them by:

  • Enhancing remote access to Legal Services for small businesses;
  • Instituting a monthly job listing via email for potential jobseekers within the Jerome Avenue Area;
  • Gathering information from funders, community partners and other stakeholders about resources to help community members and small businesses affected by COVID-19; and
  • Leveraging social media and other online platforms to share resources, hold events online and deliver trainings to empower jobseekers, community members, and entrepreneurs.

If an existing or new program participant is urgently in need of emergency family support services, they may contact us at (718)839-1100 or (718)839-1133.

If you would like to learn more about the ways in which you could support our work at this critical time, please reach out to us via email at or by calling (718)839-1157.