Press Play: Union Settlement

In this edition of Press Play we talked with Kyra Giles, Program Director for Union Settlement Intergenerational Tutoring Program (ITP). They have been in East Harlem supporting the community since 1895, and you can watch their videos on


How does your professional vision resonate with Union Settlement?

I know well the success you can build with community help. Some of my fondest memories are those learning in school. I will always value education and cherish the teachers that went above and beyond to see me reach my full potential. It feels good to be part of an organization that help community people thrive in life. Union Settlement enriches the love of families and individuals in East Harlem. I find my professional work with Union Settlement rewarding. My works allows me to have a positive impact on people lives, empowering them to achieve happiness and success. In ITP I believe both student and volunteer reading tutor benefit equally! The students get academic and social support; while the reading tutors get a meaningful volunteer experience helping a young child develop a love for reading and school.


What are the main goals that your program has for 2019?

In 2019, I would like to see the number of volunteers increase. With more volunteers we can service more students. ITP has a target goal of servicing 120 students in 6 East Harlem schools. Principals would like to service more students at the school but during afterschool so ITP wants to find older adults that would tutor after school hours. For all tutors to work with two students back to back for 45 minutes to really maximize on the number of student we serve as well .


What are the main obstacles?

Finding individuals that are willing to commit to a year round volunteer project. ITP volunteers are very dedicated and committed to their work with students. The individual really has to have the time in their weekly schedule. Volunteer Reading Tutors are able to build a very special relationship with their student, in most cases reading with the same child for 3 consecutive years.


Sometimes schools needing ITP services do not have the tutoring space to accommodate the program size (especially during the school day) so this can affect how many children we can actually serve.


What is new with East Harlem right now? What are the current issues in the area?

East Harlem schools have many young children that need individualized academic attention because they are ELL students. The student’s parents first language is not English nor spoken at home. As a result the student struggles with learning how to read and write at school. It’s important that schools provide services that can help address this issue of ELL families in East Harlem. All students deserve opportunities that will allow them to do their best in school such as ITP.


What is your favorite place in the neighborhood?

Dear Mama Coffee at 109th Street and 2nd Ave is my new favorite East Harlem spot. I love a cool spot where I can read, write, think, and drink coffee!



previous / next

Subscribe to the NYXT newsletter

Learn about upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, and new organizations looking for your help.


New Call-to-action