Harlem Educational Activities Fund (HEAF) is an educational construct designed to facilitate higher learning in the schools and communities of urban America.
“It’s official,” said HEAF president and CEO, Ruth Rathblott. On February 1st, HEAF launched its first class in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn — with 11 families attending the event. “We have learned a lot from working in a school, and recruiting challenges in a new community. We are continuing our recruitment efforts and will be hosting an Open House for the Board and others in March to showcase the program,” Rathblott said. Tanya Wiggins and Catalina Caro Torres have also worked very hard to initiate this pilot.
According to Rathblott, the HEAF objectives are meant to “help individuals build their own human capital and to mount initiatives to instill a sense of future-mindedness in each and every student, from the disadvantaged to the under-served, to the middle-of-the-road kid that may have otherwise slipped through the cracks.”
Perhaps what’s so powerful and what will be so effective about this effort is its sincerity in positioning itself solidly within working-class communities — to play an integral role in children’s lives, and as a pivotal component in their overall educational experience.
HEAF is shaping and defining children’s outlook and sense of well-being, not just with books, but with hands-on participatory techniques that engage both students and parents — while creating community-based partnerships and after-school programs.
What is truly revolutionary about HEAF, is how it endeavors to instill the joy of learning within students. In a world where technology has become a single-most driving force, children’s interpersonal skills are arguably at risk. HEAF has poised itself to take life changing steps with each child in its charge, fostering a climate of personal growth and collective responsibility. Students are further encouraged through HEAF to share experiences and continue enriching their respective communities.
Stay tuned — HEAF is gaining the heightened visibility it deserves. It has the potential to serve as a model of educational and social excellence throughout all the Harlems of the world.