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Congressman Espaillat Kicks off the Aspen Institute’s “Project Play: Huddle Up for Harlem”

Do you believe in an East Harlem in which all kids have the opportunity to be active through sports?

On January 23, 2018, the Aspen Institute, nonprofit youth development and sports organizations, local leaders, and youth convened at the Project Play: Harlem Huddle to chart a path forward for increasing access and equity and building healthy kids through sport.

Participants got a sneak preview of the forthcoming report, State of Play: Harlem. The first research of its kind in East Harlem, the report identifies key strengths and areas of opportunities to get local youth more active through sport.

US Congressman Adriano Espaillat served as the keynote speaker, Representative Espaillat serves Harlem, Washington Heights, Inwood and parts of western Bronx.  He spoke of the importance of sports in communities, and how economic and other barriers limit opportunities.

Project Play Harlem was initiated by the Aspen Institute as part of the national initiative, Project Play  The Institute started Project Play four years ago by conducting research, identifying impediments, and developing a national framework for action to make sport affordable and accessible to all children – regardless of zip code or ability.

Aspen Institute's Project Play Harlem is supported by the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, Mount Sinai Health System, and Harris Family Charitable Foundation.


Seventh Annual Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize Winners

On October 12, a ceremony and reception was held in honor of this year's recipients of the seventh annual Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize. These awards are given to individuals and nonprofit organizations in the New York metropolitan area for distinguished accomplishment in urban public health.  The 2017 recipients are the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center in the Bronx and Diane Arneth, Executive Director of Community Health Action of Staten Island and Chief Community Services Officer of Brightpoint Health.

Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center (MMFYC) serves the primarily nonwhite Crotona neighborhood of the Bronx. When its Teen Council researched the diets of children in the area in recent years, it found that fully half would likely develop diabetes in their lifetimes. Inspired to action by the results, the MMFYC empowered the Teen Council and community at large to create a health initiative to support health choices for individuals and collaboration among community leaders to ensure an environment where healthy options were available. The initiative includes a highly successful food buying club, support of a local farmers market, plus other efforts to increase access to healthy food and make systemic change. By expanding opportunities, developing leadership, and building community, it is the goal of the board, staff, and youth of the Center to change the environment of Crotona without gentrification so its residents can achieve "complete physical, mental and social wellbeing" as defined by the World Health Organization.

Diane Arneth, is the Executive Director of the Community Health Action of Staten Island (CHASI) and Chief Community Services Officer of Brightpoint Health. Arneth has consistently demonstrated her ability to address public health challenges as they emerge. As executive director for CHASI for the past twenty-six years, Arneth has overseen the growth of the organization from its earliest days, when it operated with a budget of only $150,000, to the multi-site, multi-service agency it is today, with a budget of $11.2 million. She has been a passionate and committed advocate for the residents of Staten Island, 20,000 of whom are served annually by the comprehensive range of services her organization provides, including case management, comprehensive substance use disorder services, emergency food and benefits assistance, HIV, HCV, and diabetes testing and prevention services for 20,000 Staten Islanders annually.

The awards were presented by President Raab, Laurie Tisch, Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, and Harold Holzer, the Jonathan F. Fanton Director at Roosevelt House. 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.


Conversation on the Future of Journalism with Andrew Lack and Rebecca Blumenstein

On June 6th, Aspen Institute’s Walter Isaacson sat down with Andrew Lack, Chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, and Rebecca Blumenstein, Deputy Managing Editor of The New York Times to discuss the future of journalism in a difficult financial and political climate. Both Andrew and Rebecca  noted that media coverage has changed since the election and consumers are beginning to realize that they may need to pay for truthful and factual news. With both organizations thriving under media scrutiny, the New York Times added 300,000 new subscribers in the first quarter; and in the fourth quarter of last year added more than the entire 2012 and 2013 combined.

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.


In Search of Israeli Cuisine Opening Weekend

The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund is excited to announce the New York theatrical opening of In Search of Israeli Cuisine on March 24th at Lincoln Plaza Cinema and Angelika Film Center. The film has already been shown at more than 100 festivals and special screenings around the world.

Filmmaker Roger Sherman explores the vibrant and up-and-coming culinary scene in Israel with chef/guide, Michael Solomonov of Zahav Restaurant in Philadelphia. Throughout the film, Sherman discovers the surprisingly diverse and beautiful food traditions of Israeli people—Moroccan, Persian, Lebanese, French, Italian, and Russian—Jewish, Arab, Palestinian, Christian, Druze.

Roger is a founder of Florentine Films; his films have won a James Beard Award, an Emmy, a Peabody, and two Academy Award nominations.

The Laurie M. Illumination Fund funded the film to support constructive expression, cultural exploration and communication.


Opens Friday, March 24
New York City – Lincoln Plaza Cinema
New York City – Angelika Film Center

Opens Friday, March 31
Los Angeles – Laemmle's Royal
Encino – Laemmle's Town Center 5
Irvine, CA - Edwards Westpark 8
San Francisco – Opera Plaza Cinema
Berkeley – Shattuck Cinemas
Philadelphia – Landmark Ritz Five

Opens Friday, April 7
Chicago, IL - Music Box Theatre
Highland Park, IL  Renaissance Place
Minneapolis – Edina Cinema
St. Louis, MO - Plaza Frontenac Cinema
Malverne, NY - Malverne Cinema
Maplewood, NJ - Maplewood Theatre
Kew Gardens, NY - Kew Gardens

Opens Friday, April 21
San Diego - Ken Cinema
Washington, DC - Bethesda Row Cinema
Cambridge – Kendall Square Cinema
Boston - West Newton Cinema
Atlanta – Midtown Cinema

Opens Friday, April 23
Jenkinton, PA - Hiway Theater

Opens Friday, May 12
Denver - Landmark Theatres



Grantees NEBHDCo and Green City Force Featured on an Episode of NBC’s Give

Did you ever think you’d see a TV reality show about philanthropy and nonprofits? 

Well, now there is one!  It’s called Give, and we and two of our grantees were featured on January 14.

Give is part of the NBC network’s new programming block “The More You Know.”  Give highlights the world of philanthropy by featuring the stories of high-impact nonprofit organizations around the country.  Blair Underwood is the Executive Producer, and his co-host is Jenna Bush Hager.  

In each episode, a celebrity ambassador visits two nonprofits that use innovation, best practices and dedication for change in their communities and the world.  Give’s producers invited the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund to nominate two organizations that share our mission – to increase access and opportunity for all New Yorkers.

Jenna visited Brooklyn to meet NEBHDCo at its Golden Harvest Client-Choice Food Pantry in Bed-Stuy and Green City Force’s Urban Farm Corps at New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) farm in Canarsie. Laurie Tisch joined Jenna, Blair and consultant Joan Garry to discuss Jenna’s site visits. 

These organizations work to increase access to healthy food and economic opportunity in New York City’s economically challenged neighborhoods.  We’re thrilled that they received this recognition.

• NEBHDCo is one of five neighborhood-based community development corporations (CDC’s) that were convened by LISC NYC to create Communities for Healthy Food (CfHF).  LISC NYC’s Communities for Healthy Food is a place-based initiative that integrates access to healthy and affordable food into every aspect of the CDC’s comprehensive community development work.  The Give episode showcases NEBHDCo’s TurnUp Program, a component of its Growing Youth Power Project - a year-round holistic food justice project for youth ages 13 - 18. 

Green City Force is a nationally recognized Brooklyn-based organization that recruits 18-24 year old NYCHA housing residents for rigorous workforce training and AmeriCorps service positions leading to jobs in the sustainability sector.  Their flagship programs are the Clean Energy Corps and the Urban Farm Corps.  In 2016, Urban Farm Corps members built three new farms as a part of NYCHA’s Urban Agriculture Initiative and the City’s Building Healthy Communities initiative, led by the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Partnerships with the Fund for Public Health.  The Urban Farm Corps engages NYCHA residents and community members and encourages healthy eating through nutrition education, hands-on activities, and community-wide events.

Watch the full episode here.


Justice Sonia Sotomayor Receives Preston Robert Tisch 2016 Award in Civic Leadership

On December 8th, Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, received the Preston Robert Tisch Award in Civic Leadership for her distinguished career of judicial service. As the first Latina justice, Sotomayor explained how her upbringing in the South Bronx and her Puerto Rican identity, as well as her experiences as Assistant District Attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office and as a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, informed her concern for the rights of defendants and impassioned dissents supporting equality. During these divisive times, she encouraged the audience to see these challenging events as an opportunity “to get up and figure out what we have to do right, to get up and work harder at the things we believe are right, and to get up and go out and challenge the things we think are wrong.”

The event took place at the MoMA and was moderated by Walter Isaacson. The program is an annual Aspen Institute Award in memory of Preston Robert Tisch sponsored by Steve Tisch, Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch, and the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund.

Watch the program here.


Sixth Annual Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize Winners

The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund and Hunter College are pleased to award this year’s Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize to three recipients—two nonprofit organizations and an individual—for outstanding accomplishments in the field of urban public health. The recipients were formally recognized on October 5th at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College in a ceremony hosted by Hunter President Jennifer J. Raab.

This year’s recipients are:

Bloomingdale Aging in Place (BAiP) serves Manhattan's Upper West Side from 96th and 110th Streets and from Riverside Drive to Central Park West. Its mission is to help older adults lead vital, safe, connected, and comfortable lives in their home communities as their needs evolve. An all-volunteer, intergenerational network of neighbors, BAiP builds community by organizing social activities, sharing information, providing supplemental nourishment and extending a helping hand to aging neighbors who continue to live at home.

The Bronx Transitions Clinic (BTC) is a collaboration between Montefiore Medical Center and the Osborne Association to address the health disparities at the nexus of criminal justice and community health for a marginalized population at a particularly vulnerable time. BTC's innovative model for primary care serves individuals recently released from incarceration, connecting them with high-quality medical care; and community care workers drawn from the formerly incarcerated to manage and navigate care for its patients.

Thelma Dye, Ph.D., Hilde L. Mosse Executive Director and CEO at Northside Center for Child Development has over 22 years served as the Director of the Clinic, Director of Research and Training and Chief Psychologist for the Center. Under Dr. Dye's leadership, Northside has quadrupled its budget, and now serves more than 3,600 underserved children with mental health needs. Her recognition of the need to holistically treat the whole child led her to establish Clinics in Schools to provide diagnostic and therapeutic services to those in need and support to school personnel.

The awards were presented by President Raab, Laurie Tisch, Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, and Harold Holzer, the Jonathan F. Fanton Director at Roosevelt House. 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.


1,000 Voices Energize Lincoln Center Plaza

On August 13th, Lincoln Center celebrated its 50th Anniversary of the Mostly Mozart Festival by pulling out all the stops—or in this case singers—to present the world premiere of the public domain, a bold and exciting participatory contemporary choral work of 1,000 NYC-based professional and amateur singers composed by David Lang (Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award winner) and conducted by Simon Halsey, Choral Director of the London Symphony Orchestra.   The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination was the core supporter of the public domain.  Watch  Our Power: The Making of 'the public domain' to hear the story of this unique project.

Despite the sweltering heat and humidity, 2,000 audience members arrived at Lincoln Center to hear and watch the 1,000 voices descend the plaza and deliver a monumental performance.

the public domain is about building a large community around the things that people share. We live in a very fragmented world. We go to different kinds of entertainments, we watch different kinds of programs on our various different devices, we have different political opinions. And there are things that are encouraging us to identify ourselves in such a way that we push other people away. I wondered what it would be like to build a piece out of the things that we all agree on, that could bring us together to forget those other things that tear us apart.

- David Lang

True to its title, “the public domain” was an inspiring outdoor musical event; it also proved an intricate, rich musical composition....This demonstration of commonality could not have come at a better time, given the fractious, divisive national election. It was a great day to be a New Yorker.

- New York Times

For more coverage, visit:

Wall Street Journal: Artists and Audience Blend as 1,000 Voices Sing
New York Times: 1,000 Singers Trying to Find B Flat
New York Times review: ‘The public domain’ Beats the Heat and Humidity


David Miliband Reflects on the Refugee Crisis

Worldwide, 1 in 120 people are fleeing conflict at the moment, 20 million of them are refugees, 40 million of them are internally displaced. This global refugee crisis in an intractable issue that many state leaders and United Nation agencies are attempting to address through resettlement and short-term humanitarian aid, but this is not enough. Many experts, including David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), say governments have to do more.

As former Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of the United Kingdom from 2007 to 2010 and current President and CEO of IRC, Miliband brought a dual perspective of both government and NGO leadership and experience on the refugee crisis and insight on long-term solutions to the Aspen Institute’s Conversations with Great Leaders in honor of Preston Robert Tisch on Thursday, May 5th. Joined by Michael Doyle, Director of the Columbia Global Policy Initiative and University Professor of Columbia University, the two discussed the magnitude of this massive humanitarian crisis and the inconvenience of having middle-income countries in Africa and the Middle East to host the majority of refugees. Miliband put forward three solutions to tackle this global issue:

1. Refugee resettlement should occur in wealthier countries like the United States and United Kingdom, but keeping in mind that this will not be a majority part of the solution
2. Integration of refugees into the local economy is key
3. The humanitarian aid system has to become much less divorced from the development system

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.


Laurie Tisch to be Honored with United Way NYC’s Award, The Power of Women to Make a Difference

Laurie Tisch, President of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, will be one of four honorees at this year’s United Way of New York City’s Women’s Leadership Council Award Luncheon. The Women’s Leadership Council’s annual luncheon honors the achievements of outstanding women leaders whose professional accomplishments are matched by their commitment to giving back to their community. This year’s event marks 10 years of impact made by exceptional women.

The event will be held at Cipriani 42nd Street on Wednesday, March 9. Other honorees include: Monique L. Nelseon, CEO and Chairman of UniWorld Group, Martine Reardon, Chief Marketing Officer of Macy’s, and Jennifer Warren, Managing Director & Head, U.S. Region, of CIBC.

For more information on the luncheon, please click here.