50 NYPD officers receive grants to aid with community programs

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Officer Jacquelin Cifuentes receives a certificate.
Photo by Dean Moses

The New York City Police Foundation is awarding officers at 50 NYPD precincts that go the extra mile for their community with financial grants to boost their programs.

Dubbed “50 Grants for 50 Precincts,” this initiative aims to lend a helping hand to those who are in turn lending a helping hand to their surrounding communities by providing precinct programs with $1 million in grants throughout the five boroughs.

On June 8, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea joined with NYPD executives at One Police Plaza to announce the first set of winners to receive grants for their innovative project ideas. These procedures are the brain children of officers who work in the neighborhoods and aim to make the lives of those who live there better by promoting engagement with New Yorkers as well as providing meaningful programming such as education tools for children, memorial services for fallen officers, and other outreach opportunities.

Left to right Susan L. Birnbaum, Benjamin Tucker NYPD First Deputy commissioner, Dr. Philip Ozuah CEO of Montefiore, and Andrew Tisch Chairman NYCPF. Photo by Dean Moses

“At the core of our community partnerships is cops working with kids, and today’s announcement showcases those relationships across the city,” said Shea. “The grants being delivered by the New York City Police Foundation will help sustain this critical work and I thank the Foundation for its unwavering commitment to our common good.”

Launched in January 2021, the New York City Police Foundation has received approximately 175 submission ideas from precincts all over the Big Apple, each one focusing on serving the unique needs of the communities they serve. Currently, 22 winners have been chosen out of the 50 recipients, with each winning precinct receiving up to $20,000 for their specific initiatives.

Officers salute during the national anthem. Photo by Dean Moses

Commanding Officer Barbara Welch of the Brooklyn North School Safety Division is honored to be receiving an award for Wonderfully Made, a wig making workshop that teaches participants, ages 12-19, how to learn a specialized skill and become entrepreneurs.

In addition to wig craftsmanship, attendees learn how to use Microsoft programs, build a website, photography, and concepts behind financial planning.

Wonderfully Made is an expansion of the Foundation’s Options career development program, which currently provides eight-week workshops at 127 Pennsylvania Avenue at the police community center and Thomas Jefferson high school in Brooklyn North; however, now with the grant Welch is seeking to expand this initiative borough-wide.

Commanding Officer Barbara Welch of the Brooklyn North School Safety Division. Photo by Dean Moses

“This is just an entrepreneurship where youths can learn how to make wigs and hopefully start a business or to just tap into a skill that they have,” Welch said, adding that her idea behind the program was inspired by her own use of wigs and the need to create something that would provide long term benefits for the community.

“I just knew that I wear wigs, right, and I know how much I pay for my wigs and I said this is definitely a business. I work with kids. I’ve been working for 27 years with the New York City Police Department School Safety Division and I know that students would love the opportunity to make a wig or even to have a wig,” Welch told amNewYork Metro.

Welch shared that one of her students is heading to college, and plans to continue making wigs as a side business to help pay for schoolbooks and other necessities.

NYPD Commissioner Shea congratulates the award recipients. Photo by Dean Moses

“To be a recipient of the $20,000 is amazing because I’m thinking about all of the young ladies, and men because I have men in the program, who would benefit from this program and with just how we can spread it,” Welch said.

Others like Detective Tania Duhaney are working to make a local basketball court a more visually inviting place for children to play while also remembering the heartbreaking loss of a young community member. A 14-year-old teen was shot and killed by a stray bullet in October of 2019, since that time Detective Duhaney has not only maintained contact with the young victim’s mother, but she has also been working diligently to ensure he is not forgotten.

This incident inspired Duhaney to initiate Love All & Hate No One Project with Patrol Borough Queens South, a program that both engages the local youth along with other members of the community to work with officers to beautify their recreational areas.

Shea and Dr. Ozuah present the awards. Photo by Dean Moses

“This program was created as part two of a bench dedication that we did for a 14-year-old that was killed two years ago on the basketball court in South Jamaica. So, what we are going to do is have children that live in NYCHA, we are going to have them come out that day and create their own basketball court with what they want to see in their backyard,” Duhaney said. “We’ve been dealing with the family since day one and to see how heartbroken this woman is to have her 14-year-old just snatched away to gun violence. He was just an innocent kid just playing basketball and bad people shooting, and he was just caught in the crossfire.”

Duhaney hopes the project will allow the youth in South Jamaica to take pride in their community, tap into their artistic side, as well as make an effort to volunteer and work with the police department on other endeavors.

“This means a lot because I want to see these kids go outside and say, ‘I had something to do with this basketball court like let’s keep it clean,” Duhaney said. 

Proposals are still being evaluated for the next wave of award recipients, which will be announced throughout the year and implemented through 2022.