Today’s guest blogger is Jahna Orzano. Jahna is the Community School Director for the team serving at  PS83M in East Harlem.

In September of this school year, the Public School 83 City Year team was excitedly meeting our students, teachers, and administration partners for the very first time. As a brand new Community School in New York City, we were very excited to welcome the possibilities this year would bring us. How could we become part of the Public School 83 family? How could we set ourselves up to fully learn the nuances of the richness in our new school community? What new relationships could we form? What new resources could we bring in? We were excited to get started, but truth be told, we were all a little bit overwhelmed at the frenzied pace found in all schools at the beginning of a brand new year, learning so many new things at the speed of light, with a “to do” list longer than would fit on even a sheet of legal paper, typed in Times New Roman 10 point font!

During exciting yet busy times, anyone in any industry would welcome what I would call “serendipitous wins” - objectively good situations that fall into your lap and naturally come together because the planets align in your favor. That’s when we met DISH Network – our serendipitous start of school year win!

Sipping my third coffee, sending my fifteenth email of the day before noon, I suddenly received a note from a fellow City Year AmeriCorps Alum, Danny Stern. Danny and I were AmeriCorps members in the 2011-2012 NYC Corps. Ever since we bonded over our red jackets, Danny has been a constant source of wisdom and guidance in my professional career which has focused on a variety of social issues from education, to workforce development, to benefits access for underserved populations. Back in our AmeriCorps days, Danny was constantly finding ways to bring new resources to his school community. He was strategic and charismatic, a perfect combination that lent itself to his uncanny ability to inspire private sector investment in his school. These days, while simultaneously pursuing his Master’s Degree at Feis Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania, Danny has put those natural abilities to good use, and is currently the Donor Relations Manager in the Development Department at an incredible organization called Children’s Aid that does amazing work for children, youth, and families across New York City. Having discussed this exciting Community School model many times with me as I began my first year as a Community School Director, Danny knew Public School 83 could be a great fit for a partnership with DISH Network, who was looking to partner up with a school who could benefit from a long list of donation items they were looking to reinvest in the community. Danny made the introduction, and we were connected to the wonderful folks at DISH Network.

DISH Network is a wonderful company that cares deeply about investing in their local communities. With an extensive corporate citizenship program, and employees who are truly passionate about giving back to their community, our new friends at DISH Network were incredibly generous in donating nearly $5,000 worth of items to our school. Public School 83 is so excited to use these great donations to help us reach our goals of increasing student attendance, celebrating and encouraging parent and community engagement, and encouraging great citizenship in our students. We are very grateful for these quality items, and for a new relationship with our friends at DISH Network! We truly thank you, DISH Network, for your generous donation, and for becoming a part of our story.

A special thank you to City Year for introducing me to fellow AmeriCorps Members who would one day become colleagues, friends, and great resources many years after graduation. Thank you Danny Stern for the connection and your constant guidance and support. And a huge thank you to Public School 83 for welcoming us to your school community and allowing us to become part of the family!

Collaboration is the foundation of social change. The more we can connect with the private sector and companies like DISH Network, and encourage an open exchange of ideas and resources among the many nonprofits in our city like Children’s Aid, the greater the impact will be for our students, families, and communities. We are excited to start the year off nurturing this collaboration, and can’t wait to see what’s coming further down the road and we move throughout this year.

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