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Nonprofits seek city funds

From colleges to cultural groups and nonprofits that run foreclosure prevention programs, organizations pleaded their cases for a share of Borough President Helen Marshall’s discretionary funds in the city budget last week.

Marcia Keisz, president of York College, asked for more than $1.8 million to bolster the college.

“We would like to have $750,000 to rework and transform veterans and student support services,” Keisz said during Marshall’s budget hearing at Borough Hall.

Keisz said that money would go toward student development and enriched student support services.

She also asked for $285,000 to upgrade the college’s Women’s Center, $475,000 to renovate York’s chemistry labs, $315,000 for the school’s geo-science monitoring project and funding for the second phase of the project to repair and build the college’s soccer field, which is currently “unusable.”

Jennifer Ching of Queens Legal Services said Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed budget provides no funds for the nonprofit, which provides foreclosure and eviction prevention programs, immigration rights and domestic violence programs as well as HIV advocacy.

“We’re doing everything we can at Queens Legal Services to keep these programs,” she said.

Dr. Gerald Deas of the Jamaica-based Afrikan Poetry Theatre said the theater had been denied $200,000 for summer programs.

“By losing $200,000, we have little money to exist on,” he said.

Deas said he was asking for only a “portion” of the $200,000.

“It is so important that we keep the multicultural family together in Queens,” he said.

Ricky Ortiz of the Alley Pond Environmental Center, requested $80,000 in additional funding for new buildings for APEC’s outreach programs, which he said will enable the organization to “bring APEC” to the 10,000 children on the nonprofit’s waiting list.

Joan Serrano-Laufer, director of the Queensborough Council for Social Welfare, said the organization had to reduce staff salaries to part-time levels six months ago and said staff members are coming to work on days they are not being paid.

The organization also moved from southeast Queens to Astoria for cheaper rent.

Serrano-Laufer said the nonprofit’s budget is $150,000 and she was asking Marshall for an additional $100,000.

“We really need to get that so we can return to full-time work,” she said.

Steven Choi, executive director of the Min Kwon Center for Community Action in Flushing, which provides free social and legal services, said the nonprofit is the only legal services organization for Korean Americans on the East Coast.

Choi did not specify how much money the organization was asking for.

Chuck Wade, president of the Kissena Corridor Park Conservancy, requested $200,000 toward the construction of a mediation garden opposite New York Hospital Queens’ cancer center.

“This is a project where everyone benefits,” said Wade, who said the garden will provide a “psychological lift” to the cancer patients.

Wade said $6,000 has already been raised for the project.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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