The Sylvia Center

Youth-led Change for a Healthy Future

Bronx, NY   |  www.sylviacenter.org

Mission

The Sylvia Center (TSC) educates youth, families, and communities about the connection between food and health through interactive food literacy programming which includes cooking skills and an introduction to nutrition. Programming is adapted to teach all age groups and skill levels. Workforce development components are added to teen programs and fresh food ingredient kits are included with family programming to assist with both food education and food insecurity. Guided by a vision to eradicate diet-related disease, TSC seeks to build a foundation of knowledge necessary for participants to make informed food choices that directly benefits health and wellbeing.

Notes from the nonprofit

The Sylvia Center educates on the connection between food and health, We aspire to see the end of diet related diseases and believe that youth led change will create a healthier future. We provide engaging and interactive programming designed to improve food literacy, inclusive of cooking skills and nutrition. The Sylvia Center has been operating since 2007 and has served more than 35,000 participants in all five boroughs of New York City and Columbia County, NY. Within these communities, TSC is committed to serving population groups facing the greatest struggles with food access and equity. The Sylvia Center is committed to building more resilient and healthy communities.

Ruling year info

2007

Executive Director

Mr. Jonathan Cetnarski

Main address

2417 3rd Avenue Suite 301

Bronx, NY 10451 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

20-4297703

NTEE code info

Nutrition Programs (K40)

Agricultural Programs (K20)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Building more resilient and healthy communities Over the past two years, COVID-19 has disproportionally affected under-resourced communities across New York. High rates of diet-related illness, a scarcity of nutrition education programs, and limited access to healthy, affordable food contributed to this outcome. The Sylvia Center seeks to impart the necessary knowledge necessary to improve food access and equity issues. Educating youth, and their families, on how to identify, prepare and incorporate low cost, healthier meals, TSC can help empower communities to take control of their health and demand access to more nutrient dense foods. Creating healthier plates will create healthier individuals and communities which will create the resiliency necessary to ensure healthier futures.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

New York City: Cooks for Health

Cooks for Health programming provides culinary and nutrition education through cooking classes for 13-24-year-olds. Flexible programming runs for six to 14 lessons, depending on the ages of participants. In Cooks for Health Family classes, a parent or guardian joins participants in the kitchen to prepare the same nutrition-focused recipes.

In all programming, a Chef Educator guides participants through classes as they learn to prepare healthy, plant-based recipes. The Chef Educator emphasizes the role of nutrition in good health and focuses on building participants’ skills, confidence, and food knowledge inside and outside the kitchen.

Population(s) Served
Families
Low-income people
Working poor
Adolescents
Children

Designed for our youngest participants, Full Plate programming builds the foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating by teaching the connection between the food they eat and where it comes from. Lessons focus on building confidence in the kitchen.

Whenever possible, Full Plate lessons are paired with a farm visit, allowing participants to experience the connection between food to farm while learning about agriculture, cooking, and nutrition.

In a series of three or more lessons, Full Plate:

Inspires food exploration
Provides nutrition education
Teaches skills to prepare a healthy snack

Full Plate serves Kindergarten - 5th grade

Population(s) Served
Children
Low-income people
Working poor

The Teen Culinary Apprenticeship prepares 16-18-year-olds to become peer advocates for health and nutrition and provides professional development through food industry-related job opportunities. Apprentices explore food justice and food science as they learn the benefits of plant-forward eating. The apprenticeship runs 16 weeks, with a minimum of 54 hours required to receive school credit. The program culminates with participants serving as paid Teen Chef Instructors at summer camps with a mission to teach youth in their community about healthy food and where it comes from.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
Low-income people
Working poor

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The Sylvia Center (TSC) educates youth, families, and communities about the connection between food and health through interactive food literacy programming which includes cooking skills and an introduction to nutrition. Programming is adapted to teach all age groups and skill levels. Workforce development components are added to teen programs and fresh food ingredient kits are included with family programming to assist with both food education and food insecurity.

Guided by a vision to eradicate diet-related disease, TSC seeks to build a foundation of knowledge necessary for participants to make informed food choices that directly benefits health and wellbeing. Using a research-based curriculum, TSC educates on six fundamental building blocks for healthier eating:

• Distinguishing between whole and processed foods
• Building a healthy plate
• Adding flavor healthfully
• Exploring new foods
• Understanding food seasonality
• Practicing good hygiene and sanitation

The Sylvia Center has been operating since 2007 and has served more than 35,000 participants in all five boroughs of New York City and Columbia County, NY. Within these communities, TSC is committed to serving population groups facing the greatest struggles with food access and equity.

Partner with community-based organizations, schools, and local businesses to deliver nutrition-focused culinary programming across NYS.

Teach the skills necessary to identify accessible and nutritious foods and master basic cooking skills and safety.

Provide fresh food ingredients to assist with food education and food insecurity

Impart life skills, including public speaking, teamwork, and time management, to boost confidence and foster success inside and outside the kitchen. Introduce food justice and food science to teens.

Create employment pathways for teens interested in food industry / food education interests

A scalable and adaptable suite of programming that can be administered in person or virtually. Instructors and programming is modular and portable.

Staff composition includes: Chefs, Registered Dietitians, Sanitarians, and Educators.

Nutrition interns along with Graduate student support from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.

Access to an organic farm in Kinderhook, NY

A network of community partners, charter schools and other educations centers across NYC and NYS

TSC programing engages a different group of students; from teens to families, to improve knowledge, confidence and skill outcomes. Over the 2020-21 school year, responses included:

67.8% of Cooks for Health Youth students reported that they help cook at home sometimes or often upon completion of the program (an increase of 11.3%)

85.7% of Cooks for Health Youth students could correctly identify a protein source upon completion of the program (an increase of 17.5%)

93% of Cooks for Health Family students reported that they would participate in the program again (7% said maybe)

93.1% of Cooks for Health Family students reported that they involve their children in cooking at home (an increase of 6.1%)

64.8% of Cooks for Health Teen students reported that they eat fruits and vegetables more than 3 times per week upon completion of the program (an increase of 14.8%)

61.9% of Cooks for Health Teen students reported a 4 or higher level of confidence in planning a nutritious meal at the completion of the program (an increase of 20.2%)

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    The Sylvia Center (TSC) serves youth, and their families, from overlooked or under resourced communities across New York City and New York State. Within these communities we are especially focused on communities facing food access or equity issues

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, regular partner meetingsgs,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    In 2020 / 2021, The Sylvia Center added a Fresh Food Meal Kit program to accompany virtual teen and family programming. This initiative was created after learning about rising issues of food insecurity or access to the fresh food ingredients necessary to participate in the programming. The result was a kit containing fresh food and healthier shelf stable ingredients that could feed 4-6 people. This allowed participants not to not only participate in programming, but offer at least one healthier meal to a food insecure household.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    Asking for feedback and collecting evaluation data enables the students and participants to feel heard. It has not shifted or changed power, per se, but the evaluation outcomes directly contribute to change and improvements.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We act on the feedback we receive,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    we serve youth and teens predominantly making feedback collection challenging,

Financials

The Sylvia Center
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

The Sylvia Center

Board of directors
as of 3/15/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Cindy Edelson

Chaim Wachsberger

Partner, Chadbourne & Parke, LLP

Trudy Elbaum Gottesman

Philanthropist

Lizbeth Neumark

CEO, Great Performances

Dodi Meyer, MD

Director, Community Pediatrics, Columbia University Medical Center

Michael Pollack

Co-Owner and Managing Partner, Brooklyn Roasting Company

Cindy Edelson

Philanthropist

Nina Freedman

Global Philanthropy and Engagement, Bloomberg LP

Deborah Gardner

Public Relations Consultant

Scott Millstein

Executive Director, Coro New York Leadership Center

Tara Gendelman

Investor Relations

Howard Pulchin

Global Creative Director, APCO Worldwide

Phil Meldrum

President, FOODMatch

Lynn Cole

Courtney Archer-Buckmire

Danielle Colen

Chef

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 03/15/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or other sexual orientations in the LGBTQIA+ community
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 03/15/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.