Left to right: Liz Rodríguez, Nayeh Yisrael, Stephanie Benítez, Carlos Bibiloni, Cintya Jiménez,
Indira Castillo, Yunerys Liriano and her mother, Nery Stevens, and Orlando Roche.
Isamar Garrido Rodríguez, Gretcher Hernández and Francisco Silverio-El
were not in this photograph, but participated.

Eleven members of the Hostos Student Leadership Academy (SLA) joined forces with 15 students from the Lehman L.I.F.E. (Leaders Involved For Everyone) program and three students from Fordham University to plant bulbs and restore flowerbeds in Joyce Kilmer Park on 161st Street between Walton Avenue and the Grand Concourse on November 15.

Revitalizing under-resourced open spaces in the Bronx is the mission of The Bronx is Blooming (BIB), which began working with community partners to engage youth in environmental stewardship through the beautification of local parks. Their goal is to inspire communities to advocate for their parkland. 

The Bronx is Blooming, Hostos Community College and the Student Leadership Academy developed a relationship in 2011 and since then they have been working together on park revitalization efforts across the Bronx.

Hostos Archivist and Bronx resident William Casari, who has a passion for making the Bronx more beautiful is the individual responsible for connecting the College and BIB.

“The founder of the Bronx is Blooming is Jennifer Beaugrand, who has worked in community-led horticulture in the Bronx since 2005,” Casari explained. “She began with the Parks Department and maintains a strong relationship with the agency. For three years she helped a community organizing horticulture program in the Bronx establish itself which she maintained and carried into The Bronx is Blooming. She’s an amazing leader with an important purpose.”

BIB accomplishes its mission by managing park restoration projects, and by mentoring local youth to assume leadership roles in these ongoing efforts. This approach of combining green restoration with cultivating local stewards creates a culture of civic participation that empowers Bronx residents to be the drivers of local change and protectors of the borough’s natural resources.

Hostos SLA members contribute anywhere from 16 to 40 hours of volunteer service a semester and work on projects in all five boroughs, Westchester and Upstate New York. The student volunteers have worked on re-painting, mulching, cleaning, bulb planting and flowerbed restoration at eight different parks across the Bronx, including Joyce Kilmer, Franz Siegel, The Gully, St. Mary’s Park, Mullaly Park, Brook Park, Claremont and Van Cortlandt. The group has also done work in Theodore Roosevelt Park outside of the Hayden Planetarium, Harlem River Park and at East River Park, just beneath the Williamsburg Bridge.

One member of the Hostos SLA has become a part of the Summer Leaders Program at the Bronx is Blooming and has educated and led volunteer groups on efforts to renew, restore and revitalize Bronx parks. Of the 11 volunteers, five were former scholarship winners.
About Hostos Community College
Eugenio María de Hostos Community College is an educational agent for change that has been transforming and improving the quality of life
in the South Bronx and neighboring communities since 1968. It serves as a gateway to intellectual growth and socioeconomic mobility, as well as a
point of departure for lifelong learning, success in professional careers, and transfer to advanced higher education programs. The College’s unique
"Student Success Coaching Unit" provides students with individualized guidance and exemplifies its emphasis on student support services. 

Recently named one of the top 10 finalists for the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, Hostos offers 27 associate degree programs and two certificate programs that facilitate easy transfer to The City University of New York’s (CUNY) four-year colleges or baccalaureate studies at other institutions. The College has an award-winning Division of Continuing Education & Workforce Development that offers professional development courses and certificate-bearing workforce training programs. Hostos is part of CUNY, the nation’s leading urban public university, which serves more than 480,000 students at 24 colleges.