Our HistoryDefining our Future
HISTORY OF THE CHARLES L. BRIEANT CENTER
The Charles L. Brieant Center, named after the last Ossining resident Charles L. Brieant, a former Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, was established in recognition of his concern for children. Judge Charles L. Brieant knew the importance of learning and played an instrumental role in developing a center where learning was made possible through active partnerships with the greater Ossining public schools, Communities That Care, the Ossining Chamber and working with kids and families that were incarcerated in the Westchester community.
The mission of the Charles L. Brieant Center (CBC), a non-for-profit organization established in March 30th, 2009, is to help young people make the most of their lives by providing them with opportunities for growth, leadership, learning and mentoring programs. This was accomplished by providing financial support and volunteers to develop and implement after school programs and when needed, help run these programs for students in the greater Ossining and for at-risk youth in Westchester County. Norman Fulton was named the first Executive Director in 2009. He was honored for his work by the Superintendent of the Ossining Schools and the Board of Education and in 2014 by the Church of the Good Shepherd for his work in the community. Norman continues to serve the Center in an advisory capacity.
How the Center Was Established
Norm Fulton took a survey in the community to determine if there is a need for an organization that would be able to support after school programs for youth. It was unanimous – there was a need for a Center in the community. At the time, Mayor Hanauer, Supervisor Borgia, and Dr. Phyllis Glassman, Superintendent of Ossining Schools, wrote letters of support for the development of the Center and Senator Oppenheimer supported the CBC grant request for $8,000 which provided much needed financial support during the start-up years.
The Center started at Trinity Church with a seven piece music combo of students who played on Sundays at the church. They also played at the first fundraising gala held at Tappan Hill in Tarrytown. While this was a successful networking and fundraising event the overall concern was that more exposure was needed.
The Board of Directors grew from one to eight professionals in a relatively short time and the CBC continued to get more exposure and accolades for the accomplishments of the programs and for the learning experiences that the youth who participated in the programs received.
During his tenure Mr. Fulton developed and implemented several new programs – Leadership, Peer Mediation, Career Mentoring, Nutrition and Music Program, a two week summer camp highlighting music and nutrition education, Hudson Pride, a high school one year expeditionary based learning program about the Hudson River and a Youth at Risk Program which focuses on mentoring children who are incarcerated in Westchester County. These programs were provided free of chard to the students at the elementary, middle and high school within the Ossining community.
The formation of the Center was based on the belief that partnerships and use of volunteers were critical to the success of the Center. We reach out to volunteers in all disciplines to bring their knowledge and expertise to the programs and to the children. This effort has had amazing results. Volunteers have become more aware of our work and have helped spread our mission.
The CBC budget has grown from $0 to over $80K due to the heavy emphasis on getting food, supplies, transportation, equipment and office space donated to support these programs. This effort has been a huge success and has enabled 95% of the money raised to go directly to the school programs. Multiple funding streams were established, fundraising, grants, donors and corporations, to help support the programs. In addition to our fund raising efforts, Mr. Fulton has written a book about his seven years of experience working with kids who are incarcerated. All proceeds from the book go to the CBC to continue the Youth at Risk Program to bring awareness of the issues surrounding kids who are incarcerated. The book was dedicated to District Attorney Janet DiFiore and Susan Salice for their support and commitment to the mission of the program in the early years of development of the Center.
In addition to the book, a Youth Conference, the first of its kind, was held in October 2015 in Mt. Kisco for area students from 8th to 12th grade. The main objective of the conference was to discuss and get the opinion of those attending what can be done about juvenile crime and gun violence in their communities. Our goal is to share these findings with the Governor’s office in Albany. A trip is currently being planned for students and chaperones to go to Albany who are committed to finding a solution.
With the growth and progress of the CBC, a new Executive Director was named in 2014, Diane Magri Fraser. With Norm at her side and with an expanded board of business professionals significant strides have been made in the development and management of the several programs. Along with stronger partnerships with school administrators, teachers and educational consultants the Board determined that we have made an alliance with both educators and students of all ages. Today, we will be known as the Brieant Youth Alliance building a bigger and stronger organization.