Children of the City (COC) is a children’s development organization located in Sunset Park, Brooklyn that aims to change the culture of poverty through education and outreach. This organization empowers at-risk inner city youths through programs that provide them with hope, guidance, and resources that positively transform their lives and communities.
In 1981, Joyce Mattera, Founder and Executive Director, hosted a one-day children’s event in Sunset Park, which inspired her to build COC to respond to the needs of the neighborhood children, and the overall community. Soon, Ms. Joyce alongside many community volunteers began visiting the homes of hundreds of children to assess their needs, refer them to various services, and bring them out to a weekly Saturday event for an afternoon of food, games, singing, crafts, and value based lessons. Children participate in critical life coaching events that are designed to deter them from drugs, educational failure, gang involvement, teen pregnancy and cyclical poverty. COC also facilitates parent workshops to provide tools and support for parents to meet the social challenges within their family. Over the last 30 years, COC grew steadily with services designed by leading experts in the fields of education and mental health development in order to address the academic and social needs of underserved neighborhoods.
COC offers a diverse selection of services that provide children and families with a well-rounded approach to achieving success. The services include trauma intervention, counseling, after-school and summer programs, SAT prep courses, courtroom and legal advocacy, social work, guardianship, financial counseling, mentoring, etc. Through various outreach and programs, COC reaches over 2,000 children and youth over the course of the year, 500 on a monthly basis through personal home visits and monthly programs, and 200 on a continual weekly and daily basis. Also, this organization is expanding their college bound project to provide adult mentors in the corporate sector who will help students navigate through the challenges of college matriculation.
This organization, through continual assessment, has proven very successful. COC is proud to share success stories from our participants who have become upstanding members of society who obtained college degrees and are career professionals. Many alumni of COC return to volunteer as a way of ensuring the ongoing success of the organization. COC is supported through financial gifts, volunteer services, partnerships, and awareness campaigns. COC hosts an annual fundraising event with The New York Giants players where corporate sponsors can purchase bowling lanes and spend time with their favorite Giants players. Annual events include The Backpack Giveaway, Thanksgiving Boxes of Love, and the Christmas Winter Wishes Project, which provide additional opportunities for people to support the organization. The organization hopes to expand its services to other locales in New York City.
“What makes Children of the City unique is our multi-faceted strategy that addresses all of the factors that affect a child’s ability to succeed and our in-home approach to counseling provides a genuine connection to ensure the real issues are identified … and our programs are successful and relevant” —Joyce Mattera, Founder and Executive Director
Written by Lerone Savage