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2023 in Review

From moving to a new office, to deepening our community partnerships, to becoming a hub for asylum seekers, 2023 was a year of immense change and growth for CIANA.

In spite of all that has changed, we have cultivated and deepened connections with fellow nonprofits, advocacy leaders, elected officials, and houses of worship, all of whom share our vision to improve the lives of new Americans.

Browse through the photos below that show how each month made 2023 the year that it was:

The year started off strong; in January we attended the New York Immigration Coalition Member Congress in Albany- their first in-person conference since the pandemic- where we met dozens of immigration nonprofits from across New York State and lobbied elected leaders to pass legislation and budget proposals that will benefit our immigrant communities.

Our Outreach team braved the February cold in order to reach a more diverse range of immigrant communities, particularly folks from the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, who have historically been underserved and underrepresented.

In March we said goodbye to our Newtown Avenue office, our home for 15 years, and moved into our new office on 34th Avenue.

As the weather got warmer in April, we joined the NYIC at City Hall where we rallied for increased funding for education for immigrants.

May was Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, so we rallied for AAPI representation in the City budget alongside the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF) and more dedicated community partners. We also had the privilege of hosting Council Member Julie Won in our new office to discuss how to best serve immigrants and asylum seekers in District 20.

As summer began in June, we took our virtual Afterschool students to the Museum of the Moving Image, just down the street from our new office, where they got to learn hands-on all about how movies are made. This was the first of three trips in our annual Summer Program.

Our students also went to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and got to learn real movie stunts from a professional movie stuntman at Kaufman Astoria Studios thanks to the Astoria Film Festival.

In July we celebrated our accomplishments as part of the NYC Test and Trace Corps, where for two years we educated the public about COVID-19 and lessened the impact of the pandemic on New York City’s most vulnerable residents.

We launched our Mobile Literacy Class in August, after years of requests from clients for help learning how to use their cellphones. We want to say a huge thank you to our volunteer instructors, Ayush and Zahrani!

Perhaps our biggest highlights of September were receiving backpacks and school supplies from Trinity Lutheran Church here in Astoria, as well as receiving 50 refurbished computers from TechF.I.N. to distribute to our clients and help bridge the digital divide (again!).

October was a busy month- we added an in-person option to our Afterschool Tutoring Program for the first time since the pandemic began. We also hosted idea generating sessions as part of The People’s Money - Citywide Participatory Budgeting, where our clients of diverse backgrounds as young as 11 years old could brainstorm ideas to benefit their communities and get funded by the New York City budget.

Later in the month, a shelter for asylum seekers opened just down the street from our office, housing single men from West Africa. Since its opening, we have connected dozens of its residents with our programs and services.

In partnership with NYC Care and No Kid Hungry, we spent November traveling to Corona, Jamaica, and even Woodhaven to promote CIANA’s services in schools. We celebrated Thanksgiving with a potluck lunch for our staff and clients, our first in-person celebration since 2020. After the holiday, our CEO Emira Habiby Browne participated in a panel discussion on health equity at the SUNY Global Center, furthering our mission to bridge health gaps.

As the December holidays approached, we collected winter clothes, sleeping gear, and snacks for asylum seekers thanks to the generosity of our community. We continue to educate the community about resources and services. We celebrated the holidays as a team, affirming our commitment to improving the lives of New Americans together as a unified CIANA family.

We’ve already started 2024 strong, serving our clients and our community. We expect this year will be full of its own challenges for immigrants and asylum seekers. But the last year has shown that we are well prepared to meet these challenges, as we have done tirelessly for nearly 18 years. We wish everyone a happy, successful, and peaceful new year!


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