Pitkin Verde Farmers Market Grand Opening

Understanding the residents need for healthy fruits and vegetables, the Illumination Fund teamed up with the Brooklyn Borough President’s office, Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, and the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) East New York Diagnostic and Treatment Center to open a new farmers market in Cypress Hills. The Pitkin Verde Farmers Market launched on July 28, 2015 at HHC East New York Diagnostic and Treatment Center complete with cooking demonstrations, face painting, and African drum and dance performances by Young Audiences.

All of the partners spoke at the event, with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams providing the closing remarks.

The farmers market will be open every Tuesday through November 24, from 9 AM to 5 PM at HHC East New York Diagnostic and Treatment Center. The market accepts various payment options such as SNAP, Health Bucks, Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, and Women, Infants and Children coupons.


AIM: 35 Years

On July 21st, the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund held an opening reception for its current office gallery exhibit AIM: 35 Years curated by the Bronx Museum. The exhibit brings together a selection of artworks by AIM alums. The Artist in the Marketplace (AIM) program, now in its 35th year, provides professional development opportunities to emerging artists residing in the New York metropolitan area. The program consists of a 13-week seminar that addresses practical concerns, and cultivates networking opportunities. Every two years, AIM introduces the work of 72 artists to a greater audience via exhibition and catalogue. Participating artists are encouraged to build their networks through the program’s collaborative structure.

At the opening, Holly Block, Executive Director of the Bronx Museum of the Arts spoke of the museum’s mission to reflect the borough’s dynamic communities, and provide a crossroad where artists, local residents, national and international visitors meet. Many of the AIM alums were in attendance among them was Thomas Bangsted. An AIM alum featured in the exhibit, he shared that the AIM program was a pivotal experience in his career and provided him with vital tools and knowledge.

In conjunction with AIM: 35 Years the Bronx Museum is exhibiting at its location, Bronx Calling: The Third AIM Biennial. It is curated by Bronx-based artists Hatuey Ramos-Fermín and Laura Napier, Bronx Calling: The Third AIM Biennial features the work of seventy-two emerging artists engaged in the AIM Program (classes of 2014 and 2015). This exhibit will be at the Bronx Museum until September 20, 2015.


Marcus Samuelsson featured in Aspen Institute’s Conversations with Great Leaders

With multiple restaurants around the world, bestselling cookbooks and a memoir, and as the youngest chef to receive two three-star ratings from The New York Times, Marcus Samuelsson is a leader in the culinary world. His rise from an apprentice in Switzerland and France to becoming executive chef of Aquavit at the age of 24 and now owner of Red Rooster and Streetbird Rotisserie is a reflection of his hard work, leadership, and innovative vision. On June 17, Marcus took time out of his busy schedule to converse with Corby Kummer, senior editor and food writer at The Atlantic, for the Aspen Institute’s Leadership series in memory of Preston Robert Tisch. Samuelsson discussed his aspirations of opening his own restaurant as a young apprentice in Europe, and how the events of 9/11 encouraged him to become an entrepreneur and open his first restaurant in Harlem.

The event took place at Hunter College’s Roosevelt House, and is part of the Leadership Series in memory of Preston Robert Tisch sponsored by Steve Tisch, Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch, and the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund.

Marcus Samuelsson, chef, restaurateur and author In conversation with Corby Kummer, food writer, The Atlantic. Roosevelt House, NYC. Wednesday, June 17, 2015. Credit Photo: Erin Baiano


Joan Tisch Community Health Prize Ceremony Winners

We are delighted to announce the recipients of the fifth annual Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize, an award that honors not-for-profit organizations and individuals for distinguished accomplishment in the field of urban public health. The recipients were honored on June 9th at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College in an event hosted by Hunter President Jennifer J. Raab.

This year’s award recipients are:

The Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, which works to eliminate health inequities, improve health status, and expand access to the medically underserved in New York City, with a focus on Asian Americans. Its Comprehensive Hepatitis B Program is widely recognized as a national model of outreach, prevention, and care that addresses major health disparities for the Asian American community—chronic Hepatitis B infection and associated liver disease. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders make up less than 5% of the total United States population, but account for more than 50% of Americans living with chronic Hepatitis B.

Ann-Marie Louison, Co-Director of Adult Behavioral Health at CASES, which works to increase public safety through innovative services that reduce crime and incarceration, improve behavioral health, promote recovery and rehabilitation, and create opportunities for success in the community. Ms. Louison is a New York City leader working at the intersection of behavioral health and criminal justice. She co-founded the Nathaniel Project, the first alternative-to-incarceration program in Manhattan Supreme Court for adults with severe mental illness convicted of felony offenses. Ms. Louison has developed and implemented innovative and effective interventions for a high-risk population that addresses both public health and public safety.

The awards were presented by President Raab, Laurie Tisch, and Tom Farley, former NYC Commissioner of Health and current Joan H. Tisch Distinguished Fellow in Public Health at Hunter College. The Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize is made possible with support from the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund; the Prize is a tribute to Joan H. Tisch in recognition of her humanitarian activism in health care and social services in New York City.


No Longer Empty Exhibition at Old Bronx Borough Courthouse

From April 23 to July 19, No Longer Empty will welcome the public to the Old Bronx Borough Courthouse for the exhibit When You Cut into the Present the Future Leaks Out.  The historic Old Bronx Borough Courthouse, which has been closed for 37 years, serves as the exhibition’s both site and theme.  The exhibition will occupy three floors and include the works of 26 artists.  In collaboration with community partners, No Longer Empty will host cultural events and educational programs throughout the course of the exhibition.

The Old Bronx Borough Courthouse was built 1905–1914 by architects Michael John Garvin and Oscar Florianus Bluemner.  The Courthouse once boasting granite floors, lavish stairways, and bronze doors, remains adorned by a statue of Lady Justice.  Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Bronx County, the Beaux Arts-style building was abandoned and sealed in 1977.

Naomi Hersson Ringskig, Executive Director at No Longer Empty, shared that “Our goal in this project is to increase access to the arts and to reopen this beautiful building.”  Prior site-specific exhibitions by No Longer Empty have included If You Build It (in Broadway Housing Communities’ new affordable housing building in Sugar Hill, Harlem), How Much Do I Owe You? (in the Clock Tower in Long Island City, Queens), and This Side of Paradise (at the Andrew Freedman Home in the Bronx).  The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund hosted A Glimpse of This Side of Paradise, a sampling of the works from the exhibition, at the Fund’s office gallery.

To activate the empty space and directly involve the community members, NLE will host public programs and activities. Approximately 20 events will include: No Longer Bored Family Day: Urban Gardening Workshop (Saturday, April 25, 1–4pm); BX200 Virtual Artist Studios (Sunday, April 26, 3–5pm and Friday, June 12, 6–8pm); Teens Curate Teens exhibition opening and teen day (Saturday, May 16, 1–7pm); Bronx Fashion Week (Saturday, May 9); and conceptual walks with Elastic City (Friday, May 29, 1pm and Saturday, May 30, 1pm and 5pm).  Additional event and programming dates to be announced will include a New York Public Library Community Oral History Project, an evening of dance and performance with Bronx Academy of Arts & Dance, walking tours by Ed García Conde, Founder and Editor of Welcome2TheBronx, a prospective tenant party hosted in partnership with SoBRO, and more.

Click here for more information on the exhibit, details on exhibiting artists and the calendar of events.

On View | April 23 – July 19, 2015: Thursday–Sunday, 1–7pm
Location | Old Bronx Borough Courthouse, 878 Brook Ave (at E 161 St & Third Ave)


Judith Rodin featured in Aspen Institute’s Conversations with Great Leaders

On March 18th, the Aspen Institute’s members, friends, and staff welcomed Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, to the year’s first event of Conversations with Great Leaders in Honor of Preston Robert Tisch. Judith joined Aspen Institute Executive Vice President Elliot Gerson in a conversation to discuss her innovative work around the resilience dividend framework, highlighting that building capacity not only allows communities to recover quickly, but also yields job creation, economic benefits, ecosystem protection, and greater community cohesion. Rodin gave examples of how communities, businesses, and cities have developed resilience in the face of shock, stress, and catastrophic challenges.

• Toyota and its recovery after the Fukushima nuclear disaster and tsunami
• Governor Deval Patrick’s leadership during the Boston Marathon bombings
• Medellín, Colombia’s transformation from the drug and murder capital of the world to a thriving, international city

The event took place at Hunter College’s Roosevelt House, and is part of the Leadership Series in memory of Preston Robert Tisch sponsored by Steve Tisch, Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch, and the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund. Watch the full conversation here.

The Aspen Institute Conversations with Great Leaders: Judith Rodin. March 18, 2015. Credit Photo: Erin Baiano

Tang Teaching Museum Receives Grant from Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund

The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund hosted a reception at its office for Skidmore College’s Frances Young Tang Museum and Art Gallery’s mini-retrospective of I was a double. The original show closed in January at the Tang and was curated by the museum’s Dayton Director Ian Berry and composer David Lang. In conjunction with the showcase, the Illumination Fund announced a $1 million one-to-one matching grant to endow the position of Assistant Director for Engagement and to support the creation of engagement programs at the museum. Read more about the grant and showcase here.

An Evening Celebrating Cardozo Public Interest Alumni

Current recipients of the Laurie M. Tisch Loan Repayment Assistance Program at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law were invited for a reception at the Illumination Fund’s office on February 3, 2015. The program benefits Cardozo graduates who have chosen to pursue careers in public service by providing “forgivable loans” to assist them in overcoming their education debt. Several recipients in attendance conveyed to the room that the program helped mitigate the stress of loans and instead redirected their focus on defending New Yorkers with limited resources. One particular Cardozo graduate, Amy Cross, wrote a thank you letter to Laurie describing the program’s impact on her work at the Legal Aid Society:

“It’s thanks to your generosity that I have been able to defend over 600 New Yorkers in their criminal cases, who otherwise would not have been able to afford counsel. Many of my clients have mental disabilities, many are still in high school, many have suffered severe beating by the police, many cannot afford bail, none of them are there by choice and all of them are deserving of top quality legal representation.  It’s thanks to loan repayment assistance that I am able to do this work that I love and provide a much-needed service. In 2014 I was able to help a gentleman wrongly-accused of driving while intoxicated achieve a full acquittal by a jury; last month I resolved a case for a man who had been coming back and forth to court for five years to fight the charges against him. Several times a month I help people get out of jail at arraignments and avoid bail amounts that are almost always beyond my clients’ means. I work in a system where the odds are almost insurmountable for poor people of color, and where public defenders are notoriously overworked and underpaid. But thanks to your financial support I am able to work towards challenging it, to learn invaluable trial and negotiation skills, and to do service on a daily basis.”

CSL Laurie Tisch Illumination Fund Event


Hunter College Seeks Nominations for 5th Annual Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize:1/23 Deadline

Do you know an individual or organization doing outstanding public health work in the NYC region? Please nominate them!

Hunter College is seeking nominations for the 5th annual Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize. This $10,000 award for distinguished accomplishment in urban public health will be presented to one individual and one nonprofit organization in spring 2015.  Submission of candidates will be accepted until January 23, 2015.

The selection committee includes prominent health policy experts drawn from Hunter faculty and the broader public health community. Nomination guidelines and forms as well as additional information can be found on Hunter College’s Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute website.

Successful candidates will have pioneered creative approaches to tackle significant public health challenges and made valuable contributions to the health of New Yorkers. They will join a respected group of former recipients selected based on achievement, innovation and impact.  Past Joan H. Tisch Prize winners have included Sandra Hagan of The Child Center of NY, Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, Turning Point for Women and Families, Independence Care System’s Breast Cancer Screening Project for Women with Physical Disabilities, LegalHealth, Union Settlement Association, Robert Cordero of CitiWide Harm Reduction, Mark Hannay of Metro NY Health Care for All Campaign, and Dr. Melony Samuels of Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger.

The Prize is a component of the Joan H. Tisch Legacy Project, a major, multidisciplinary initiative at Hunter College that addresses urban public health issues – from diseases such as HIV/AIDS, obesity, and diabetes to health disparities due to economic and environmental factors. The Project is funded by the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund in honor of Laurie’s mother, Joan.


Nationwide Screenings of Underwater Dreams

Underwater Dreams, written and directed by Mary Mazzio, and narrated by Michael Peña, is an epic story of how the sons of undocumented Mexican immigrants learned how to build an underwater robot from Home Depot parts. And defeat engineering powerhouse MIT in the process.

The Illumination Fund was one of the major supporters of Underwater Dreams, and Executive Producers included Laurie Tisch, Jackie and Mike Bezos, Jeb Bush, Jr. and Michael Peña.

The film is getting rave reviews, and now you have opportunities to see it.  Upcoming screenings include Atlanta, Phoenix, Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles and Denver.  Learn more about the film here, and for the full schedule of screenings as well as online opportunities visit the Underwater Dreams website here.

“inspiring and insightful”
– Los Angeles Times

“modest yet meaningful”
– New York Times

“The awards-worthy ‘Underwater Dreams’ is by turns rousing and heartbreaking, and organically touches on important social issues.”
– San Francisco Chronicle

“The year is just half over, but already a contender for best documentary of 2014 is looming with Mary Mazzio’s Underwater Dreams. What starts out as a high-school competition study—compelling enough on its own, as so many of these like-themed films are—pulls a breathtaking fast one in its second half, expanding its basic inspirational theme to embrace an even larger message, with an organic efficacy that is nothing short of astonishing.”
– Film Journal International

“a seemingly modest human interest film that may be the most politically significant documentary since Waiting for Superman.”
– Jonathan Alter, The Daily Beast

“Underwater Dreams” is that rare film that keeps your total attention for its entire duration and also encourages you and inspires you to want to do better with your life.   What I loved about this movie, was that it didn’t just concentrate on the competition win but also the young men’s backgrounds and the impossible obstacles they and their families had to overcome just to survive.  As you become more aware of the good people they are and their future goals and achievements, it makes you care about their plight even more. “Underwater Dreams” introduced me to a group of people who achieved the impossible by beating any and all odds to come out on top. Now THAT is the American dream.”
– Red Carpet Crash