Pie Day 2018


This year marked Project Rousseau’s 7th Annual Pie Day. Over 75 volunteers gathered together to bring the holiday spirit to local homeless shelters in NYC. As crusts were rolled, apples chopped and pies filled the room became filled with more laughter, fun and a deep sense of pride and accomplishment. In the end, we had yet another record-breaking year with 646 pies baked and distributed to the homeless.

Despite the hectic day, we paused to take a moment to honor some of the hard-working members of the Project Rousseau community. Alejandro Zarate, a member of the Project Rousseau family since 2013, was awarded the Zach Brokaw Award. This award is named in honor of a volunteer who passed away in 2015, and the exceptional commitment and care that Alejandro has shown towards our students resonates in every way with the way that Zach supported those he served.

This year’s recipient of the Jean Prendergast Award for Excellence in Community Service goes to New York City student Assul! Over the past year, Assul has gone above and beyond expectations in community service. Not only has she attended Project Rousseau community service events, but she pioneered a STEM mentoring initiative for middle school students near her. Assul, a lover of all things STEM, felt that her own STEM education could have benefitted from a mentor, leading her to create an opportunity for younger kids to learn more about STEM. Assul has displayed motivation, resourcefulness, and a sense of creativity that namesake of the award Jean Prendergast would be proud of!

We want to congratulate both our recipients as well as all our student and adult volunteers who helped make Pie Day 2018 our biggest one yet.

NYC Broadening Horizons

September marks the start of the new year for Project Rousseau. This month we have been pleased to welcome many new students from our partner schools who have enthusiastically engaged in many of our programs.

We have had a particularly busy month for Broadening Horizons activities, often a favorite for our new students who are exploring their local area and the opportunities within it for the first time.


We started the month with a trip to the Natural History Museum Planetarium where they were able to experience the incredible astrophysical resources that are available at the Hayden Planetarium. The students enjoyed viewing the depths of space from right here in NYC!


Next, we combined our Community Service and Broadening Horizons pillars as our students were invited to attend the 2018 Peace First Summit based on the positive work they have been doing in their own communities here in NYC. The day was focused on young leaders who are working to create a brighter, more peaceful future across the world. A selection of trailblazing young leaders took to the stage to speak about their pain, triumphs and the ways they have learned to use compassion, courage, and collaboration to create lasting change in their schools and communities. There was also a number of amazing performances by musicians and dancers from across the country, showing just what you can achieve if you put your mind to it! It was an incredibly inspiring day full of great ideas, initiatives and hope for a brighter future!

The month ended with a visit from our Danish partner school, Rysensteen Gymnasium. Project Rousseau Student Leaders had an amazing time greeting and touring our 24 Danish student visitors around Harlem.

Student Leaders took the visitors to Washington Heights and Manhattanville to teach them about the vibrant history present in the two areas. Along the way, they visited a few local parks and showcased some of the significant works of graffiti art. The students had an opportunity to discuss the meaning behind the publicly displayed works. Additionally, the Danish students were able to see Harlem’s world famous Apollo Theater.

After a long day of lively learning and conversation, the students ate together at Tom’s Diner, where they took a group photo to commemorate the eventful day. The annual visit from Danish students is a wonderful Project Rousseau tradition that creates meaningful bonds between internationally diverse students.


Summer Programs

The summer may be here but that doesn’t mean the hard work stops for our students. While many of our students have been discovering new countries, their peers have also been making the most of what Project Rousseau has to offer in their own communities.

Throughout the summer we offer a drop-in program for students. This can include anything from extra SAT prep to help signing up for soup kitchens. Summer hunger and safety in their own neighborhoods are often problems for many of our students and for that reason we make sure that all of our summer programs offer even more free food than usual and a safe, quiet place for those who need it.


Drop-in time also allows for students to work together. Here at Project Rousseau, we really value peer-to-peer tutoring, below Chinelo is helping her peers with some schoolwork. Peer tutoring is such a useful tool that can aid both the teacher and the student. By helping the other students, Chinelo is further solidifying her knowledge in a specific subject, and the other students are getting help from someone they can relate to. We have had a number of older Project Rousseau students participate in peer tutoring over the summer and they have all done a great job!


Additionally, our Broadening Horizons pillar continues throughout the summer. The extra time allows us to expand beyond our usual sites. Recently a small group of Project Rousseau students recently enjoyed a day trip to Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey! The students had the opportunity to explore the beautiful campus via a student-lead tour and also attend an information talk on undergraduate programs and entry requirements. Despite the on and off rain, it was a great day, where everyone learned a lot and got some great pictures too!

Similarly, we are always thankful to our partner organization Kids In Seats for the wonderful experiences they offer our students. Over the summer we were fortunate to attend many sports games, including a suite at the Yankee Stadium


European Parliament Internship 2018

This year our students participated in our second European Parliament Internship program spending three weeks in Brussels learning the workings of the European Union and furthering their understanding of international relations and politics. 


Over the course of the program the students listened to a number of debates, committee meetings and other parliamentary activities on a wide range of topics. We learned about the importance of "Ethics Dumping," Cultural Heritage and the early detection of cancer of unknown primary. The students listened eagerly as they heard esteemed speakers, experts and Members of European Parliament shared their views on topics such as the economic impact of joining the EU for Azerbaijan, reform in the education of young offenders and nuclear deterrence. Throughout the week the students learned many valuable skills which will carry them well through the remainder of their high school careers and beyond. Importantly, the students showed an appreciation of engaging critically with what they were hearing and learning and our dinners each evening would feature heated and knowledgable debates on the day’s proceedings! 


In addition to attending European Parliament the students spent time exploring the many cultural institutions of Brussels, including the Royal Museum of Fine Arts and a night at the opera at La Monnaie. The trip also allowed the students to develop a range of skills outside of academics which will set them well for college - each evening the group would prepare dinner together. Over the duration of the trip we shared cuisine from many of the students' home countries and many of the group showed great leadership in the kitchen and in keeping our living areas in tip-top condition. We strongly believe that these skills are also vital for a strong transition to college and independent living. 


Teaching English at King’s Academy, Jordan

For the second year, Project Rousseau was very proud to send one of our college students to King’s Academy in Amman, Jordan to teach English to low-income students in Jordan as part of King’s Summer Enrichment Program (SEP). This year, Eliana, a senior at Georgetown University, represented Project Rousseau at SEP.

Eliana spent two weeks teaching at King’s Academy. As a former English Language Learner student herself when she first came to the United States, Eliana found the experience rewarding and very close to home.

King’s Academy says: "We were very lucky to have Eliana among our cohort of SEP teachers this past summers, she was amazing! From the first day of SEP she jumped right in and was one of the most involved teachers. Her students loved her and I am sure many will stay in touch with her for a while!”

We look forward to seeing our students continue to teach at SEP in the years to come. Thank you, King’s, for this extraordinary opportunity for our students to give back in a meaningful way while developing valuable professional skiils!

Yale Day of Service

As a special Broadening Horizons experience, Project Rousseau students participated in a Career Day with Yale alumni and current students as part of the annual Yale Day of Service event . Recent Yale graduates and older ones alike came together to create a memorable day. Yale students and graduates in the fields of finance, law, health, journalism, and architecture provided the students with information about how to apply, life at Yale, and options after graduating. After being split into groups for the first exercise, the students rotated around to speak with every group of alumni and current students. During this, alumni told Project Rousseau students about their specific experiences at Yale in relation to their majors. They also gave tips on how to apply to Yale and how to know if it is the right place for you. Advice ranged from time management skills to what life is like as a Yale student. For the second activity, students picked who they wanted to talk to, either graduates or current students. The former talked about how to apply to jobs once graduating while the second elaborated on how to apply top schools like Yale. The event was especially helpful for students currently applying to college, and even those curious about life after college!

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I went into the experience expecting the same advice that I was given before, but found myself learning much more about what it means to be a college student and how to find your true passion.
— Rony
The career day was great! While I am already finished with the college application process, I received a lot of advice on how to transition from high school to college, such as how to chose friends or navigate the new social scene. In addition, I also was given advice on how to determine if I wanted to attend graduate school in the future, taking into account both the price of school itself vs the potential career benefits down the road
— Rose
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I managed to learn about different fields and found some that fit my personality. I also got to sit down with one of the alumni to discuss various internships that I could do since I will be taking a GAP year. Some include ACLU organization, Planned Parenthood, Henry Street Settlement etc. It was a great experience and I walked out with their business cards in case if I needed support in the future.
— Angelica

Our Junior Board

We are delighted to announce the launch of our Junior Board, a dynamic community of young professionals committed to supporting Project Rousseau’s mission. Members of the Junior Board will advocate for Project Rousseau students from communities with the greatest need in New York City and across the United States. Using their energy, expertise, and networks, Junior Board Members will support the areas of Project Rousseau’s work that are most relevant to their own interests and experience.

The Project Rousseau Junior Board is an extraordinary group of young professionals from different industries, backgrounds and countries and we are extremely grateful that they have come together to impact the lives of our students. 


April Broadening Horizons

In late April some of our students attended the 9th annual Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards. The awards ceremony celebrates disruptive innovation in all fields - ranging from technology to philanthropy. Craig Hatkoff, the founder of the event, generously donated ticket to Project Rousseau for this inspiring event. The impressive award-winners and honorees were both young and old alike. Naomi Wadler, an 11 year old well known for her speech at the March for Our Lives in Washington, DC in March 2018, was honored for her activism alongside her friend and fellow activist Carter Anderson. For Pranab, one of our NY students, the highlight of the night was listening to Israeli entrepreneur, and former teacher, Opher Brayer speak!

Later in the week, students visited the Rebel Spirits: Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. exhibit at the New York Historical Society in honor of the 50th anniversary of both King and Kennedy’s assassinations. The tickets for this event were donated by the Keith Haring Foundation. The afternoon consisted of thoughtful discussions between students that explored the similarities and differences between these two historical figures.

Chicago SAT Boot Camp

Last week, Project Rousseau's Founder and President, Andrew Heinrich traveled to Chicago to lead a weekend SAT Boot Camp for the students that are involved in their local chapter. Students from 9th through 11th grade, who currently are attending Hyde Park Academy and Bronzeville Scholastic Institute, met with their mentors at the University of Chicago to study for the upcoming SAT test. The Boot Camp focused on the fundamentals of the standardized test, walking the attendees through the reading, grammar, and math sections. Students received a total of 9 hours of instruction and one-on-one academic guidance/planning for their testing experiences.

Students learned many valuable grammar lessons and were able to work through challenging math problems using their personalized counseling. During breaks, students were able to discuss and navigate their upcoming college processes. They were also able to learn study skills and ways to be a more involved student at their high schools to prep.

SAT Boot Camp at Project Rousseau goes much further than shading in bubbles for multiple choice questions, it inspires a brighter future for students across our nation-wide chapters.

“I had a very good experience at Boot Camp. It was really helpful for My PSAT, especially in reading. I’m hoping to go to college to be a Paramedic or to be a musical artist and actress.”

— Chicago 9th Grade Student

Visiting Colleges in Boston

Boston is home to some of the world’s most esteemed universities, and it is a city full of culture and history.  On Wednesday, Project Rousseau students travelled to Boston to visit colleges and take advantage of the many opportunities in the city. The first thing on the agenda was the annual Harvard University Bioethics Conference, here the students learned about the controversial case of Jahi McMath and watched experts in the field debate what it means to be "brain dead".

The students also packed in many campus visits during the trip starting off with Boston University. From there they travelled to Cambridge to see Harvard University. A short ride on the T after lunch and our students were at MIT. Here they took a tour of Professor Cheeseman's lab and learned about chromosomal segregation during mitosis. On our final morning in Boston we visited Northeastern University to learn about their unique co-op program, as you will see below Northeastern was a popular choice among our students! 

Visiting these universities opened my eyes to the environment that I see myself in due to the diversity of the campuses we visited. I’m considering applying to Harvard now because I was able to see it in person rather than just virtually!
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I loved visiting Northeastern and MIT. I got to see some new things and learn more about the colleges and I’m definitely gonna apply for both those colleges. MIT made my top 10 colleges.

My favorite part was visiting Northeastern University. It’s a lovely campus and the experience I had there made the school one of my top 5.