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The third annual Future Leaders ceremony at New York Public Library



July 6, 2017

Contact: Arianna Fishman (, o: 929-221-5249 c: 646-629-4723)



Student-honorees awarded with laptops at third annual Future Leaders ceremony at New York Public Library’s Celeste Bartos Forum

NEW YORK—One week ago, on Thursday, June 29, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Herminia Palacio, Special Advisor to the Mayor Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez, Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks, and Department of Education Chief Operating Officer Ursulina Ramirez commemorated the achievements of more than 100 college-bound high school graduates currently residing in shelter. Together with their families, the graduates joined staff from the Department of Homeless Services and its partners at the New York Public Library's Celeste Bartos Forum for an evening celebration, where they were awarded a free laptop to help them with their college studies.

DHS received a generous donation from the Oak Foundation to help create its first ever Future Leaders Scholarship Program for college-bound high school seniors who are experiencing homelessness and demonstrate educational success, as well as a commitment to their school attendance. Six students were awarded one scholarship each at a value of $2,000.

Honorees have been accepted to colleges, including, Dartmouth, NYU, Northeastern, John Jay College for Criminal Justice, Ithaca College, SUNY, Medgar Evers College, Bronx Community College, Buffalo State, and College of Staten Island.

Honoree Edriona Stroud, who was a featured speaker at the event, has been accepted to the University of New Haven to study political science with a concentration in political philosophy and international relations. She hopes to earn her doctorate and become a professor. Raised by a single mother in the Bronx, Edriona was inspired by her mother's determination to provide her children with stable housing and hopes that her ability to overcome hardship will inspire others. Edriona is a 2017 Future Leaders Scholarship winner.

Honoree Ivory Parker was accepted to Mohawk Valley Community College. Ivory participated in DOE's All Sisters Evolving Together (ASET) Female Empowerment Program, which offers tutoring, academic programming and teambuilding for young women experiencing homelessness. She hopes to eliminate the labels children experiencing homelessness are given and instead provide them with more opportunities to succeed. She is a 2017 Future Leaders Scholarship winner.

"Students who are homeless are faced with day-to-day challenges that often affects their performance in school, which is why the Administration has programs in place to help meet their needs," said Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio. "These college-bound students have displayed an extraordinary commitment to overcoming challenges and building brighter futures, and the de Blasio Administration is proud to support young New Yorkers like them, their families on their path to success."

"Congratulations to these young scholars! It is an honor to be a part of an administration whose top priority is equity and excellence in education, ensuring all have an opportunity to succeed," said Special Advisor to the Mayor Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez. "It has been demonstrated that a college education is an economic equalizer and sets the pathway to economic advancement for the college graduate, their family, and future generations. These determined young scholars are an inspiration to us all."

"I congratulate the Future Leaders and their families on this incredible accomplishment and wish them the best of luck as they begin college this fall," said Ursulina Ramirez, Department of Education Chief Operating Officer. "Their ability to overcome challenges while continuing to be successful in the classroom is an inspirational achievement and I look forward to following their careers as they go on to apply all that they have learned in NYC public schools."

"Congratulations to all the Future Leaders here who will be going on to great things," said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. "The academic excellence these students achieved while going through challenging times is a testament to their dedication. As we work to turn the tide on homelessness, creating, enhancing, and expanding educational resources that provide more young people with opportunity and stability are our top priorities—and through partnerships like these, we’re continuing to offer new resources to families as they get on their feet."

"Congratulations to all the graduates and their families on one of many milestones to come," said Tony Marx, President of The New York Public Library. "The New York Public Library is proud to offer free programs, classes and materials in partnership with the Department of Homeless Services to provide opportunities for all New Yorkers to succeed. We wish the graduates continued success as they begin college and pursue their professional goals."

"Through resilience and perseverance I was given the power to transform my grades and keep moving forward," said Ivory Parker, Future Leaders Scholar. "After you have been through so much; you began to realize that change will not come unless you put in the hard work to change it. Remember, stay amazing, focused, and resilient."

"I hope my ability to overcome my situations inspires someone to overcome theirs. Aspire to be who you want to be because you can do it," said Edriona Stroud, Future Leaders Scholar."Your situation is not definitive. Only your diligence, your impact, the lives you positively alter and what you strive to become hold importance."