Joyce Mattera started helping out in her Brooklyn neighbor when she moved there almost four decades ago. Her organization, Children of the City, now serves 1,000 kids every year. She measures success in the accomplishments of the tens of thousands of kids she’s helped along the way.
Interview with Joyce Mattera, the Executive Director of Children of the City.
The following is the pre-interview with Joyce Mattera. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.
What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?
Breaking cycles of poverty through education and outreach.
More about Children of the City:
Children of the City (COC) is a community-based organization that has been serving disadvantaged children and families since 1981. Our mission is to reach at-risk inner city children with hope, guidance and resources to impact their lives and break the cycle of poverty, which is the number one cause of educational failure. In the under-resourced communities we serve, some classrooms can reach more than 50 children per room with very few guidance counselors to meet the students’ needs. To add to the challenge, many households are afflicted with neglect, drug and alcohol abuse, violence, teenage pregnancies, language and cultural barriers that result in lack of educational support and development. Children of the City provides provides programs that respond to the needs of disadvantaged children and youth through healthy, safe activities and social interventions, including the only academic driven summer program, a college preparation program, home visits, parent workshops, and monthly community events that provide resources, intervention, education, and support to children and their families.
For-profit/Nonprofit: 501(c)3 Nonprofit
Revenue model: Donations, fundraisers and sponsorship with a small percentage of participant donation
Scale: For 2017, our cash revenue was $248,500. Our in-kind services and gifts were calculated at 215,000. We served 1,000 children and youth along with their families and we had 3 full time staff and 8 part time tutors along with approximately 25 steady volunteers
Joyce Mattera’s bio:
Born and raised in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, Joyce Mattera attended Saint Ephraim’s Elementary school and Fort Hamilton High School. She continued studies at Baruch College, School of Public Affairs and The Brooklyn Conservatory of music. Soon after getting married, Joyce Mattera moved into Sunset Park, Brooklyn in 1981 and immediately began outreach to at risk children in the community founding an organization called “Children of the City”.
Becoming aware of some of the serious issues that plagued the children in the community, Joyce galvanized volunteers to help her gather children to weekly events which provided them a safe place to learn and play. These weekly gatherings continued and programs were established where the children were able to participate in fun activities and value based lessons to deter them from the negative lifestyles surrounding them.
Regular Saturday home visits were soon included as part of the outreach and have continued throughout the years, allowing hundreds of families and children to obtain services and support, as well as crisis intervention.In early 2002, Joyce Mattera established a relief program, Heal New York, that provided counseling and additional services to families and victims of the 9/11 attacks. These services were provided to families that were living under the poverty level and fell through the cracks when it came to accessing help and support.
Several foundations, including World Vision and the Robin Hood Foundation provided grant money to build and sustain the counseling program. During routine visits, many pre-existing traumas were uncovered as counselors met with families, and they were able to be directed to receive much needed resources and services. In 2003, as a result of in-depth assessments made through home visits, it was determined that there was an educational crisis in this community that housed over 30,000 children.
Joyce Mattera, with the help of educational specialists, established the only academic driven summer program in the community and named it “Create Success”. The program runs throughout the school year as well as the summer months and brings the same powerful outcomes year after year which can be viewed on the Children of the City website. In 2009 she expanded the “Create Success” program to include SAT prep and college application support to High School students. Students that never dreamed of going on to institutions of higher learning are now matriculating through college and breaking the cycles of poverty that pervade their families and community.
Joyce Mattera is married and the proud mother of five biological children. She has also taken in many children and youth over the years to support them through their education. She has taken legal guardianship of some of these children in order to rescue them from being raised on the streets by local drug addicts. Many of their stories are also on the Children of the City website. Furthering her education, she received certification in the field of nutrition and health, in order to better serve poor communities and conducts ongoing nutrition workshops to both parents and children.
She spearheaded several overseas mission endeavors, including multiple trips to Rwanda and Uganda from 2012 through 2015, during which time she trained local staff and raised funds to build a home for orphans. Mrs. Mattera continues to bring innovative solutions to address academic and social challenges that accompany communities with high rates of poverty and expand programs and services of Children of the City to meet the needs of disadvantaged children living in impoverished communities.
Her efforts have not gone unnoticed by civic and community leaders. She has received multiple awards and citations, including from former Senator Eric Adam’s office, the Brooklyn DA’s office where Joyce Mattera was inducted as one of the “Extraordinary Women”, former Councilwoman Sarah Gonzalez and Senator Mary Golden’s office for her work with at-risk children.
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