Nonprofit CFY honors innovative parents and ed-tech visionaries

By Ann McMullan
June 22nd, 2015

Event celebrates digital education successes

cfa-awardsOn Tuesday, June 9, more than two hundred and fifty guests gathered at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers in New York City to honor award recipients and to celebrate the work of CFY –a national nonprofit that helps students, teachers, and parents use digital learning to improve educational outcomes.

The annual CFY Innovative Learning Awards (ILA) celebrates excellence and innovation in education and honors the supporters, parents, teachers and students who enrich CFY’s world.

“Sixteen years ago, Dan Dolgin and I started this organization because we both were deeply concerned about education in our country and the need to ensure that the paths Dan and I both had as students, and which provided us with such opportunities, should be open to everyone – no matter their zip code,” said Elisabeth Stock, co-founder and CEO of CFY.

In addition to the honorees and guests, twelve students from The Young Women’s Leadership School were on hand to demonstrate the wide variety of high-quality digital learning activities within the CFY learning platform, PowerMyLearning, which is designed to support personalized instruction and student-driven learning.

2015 ILA Honorees
Amanda Pullinger, CEO of 100 Women in Hedge Funds received the ILA Visionary of the Year award. Pullinger has a rich history in leading the organization where she currently manages more than 300 volunteer practitioners globally, and oversees the operations of the organization which now has over 12,000 members in 17 locations. In addition to her work as CEO, Amanda Pullinger serves as the chair of the HALO Trust and is also a Trustee of the Board of Skillforce, both charities based in Britain.

Pullinger related the story of her upbringing in the United Kingdom and the influence that her heroes, including her grandfather and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, had on her as a young woman and continue to serve as leadership role models for her. In accepting the ILA award she also honored the work of CFY.

Jessica Santana, a former student—now a young adult—was a beneficiary of the CFY program. Jessica shared her story of first being given a computer by CFY when she was a sixth grade student in a public school in Brooklyn. She stated that her CFY computer “ignited my passion for technology and set the tone for years to come.” In 2014, Jessica Santana and co-founder Evin Robinson created Brooklyn On Tech, a nonprofit whose mission is to prepare the next generation of technology leaders.

Today Tech Flex Scholars is the signature program for Brooklyn On Tech. Through a year-long enrichment experience, juniors and seniors enrolled in any Brooklyn public high school are provided with 180 hours of technical instruction across five programming languages. The students are also connected to mentors from major corporations including Goldman Sachs, MTV, and JP Morgan Chase, who help guide the students’ interests in technology.

Sixth grade student Kateleen Lopez was the final speaker of the evening. Kateleen shared the inspiring story of her mother, Jennifer Peña, as she introduced her mother as the recipient of the annual Parent of the Year Award. Kateleen told the audience how her mother’s unwavering belief in the power of education, coupled with her consistent active parental involvement, keeps all three of the children in their family on track. But Jennifer Lopez not only talks the talk with her children, she walks the walk by also attending school herself, while working and raising her family. In fact Kateleen was very proud to announce that in addition to receiving the 2015 Parent of the Year award that evening, her mother had also graduated from Monroe College with an associate’s degree earlier in the day, an important step in her quest to pursue a career in nursing.

Ann McMullan is an educational technology consultant based in Los Angeles. She serves on the board of CFY Los Angeles.