Rikers Island: Reform It — or Shut it Down? (2015)

The Rikers Island jail complex has become a symbol of criminal justice dysfunction. Last year, The New York Times uncovered 129 serious injuries to inmates. The US Attorney for the Southern District of New York documented widespread abuse and neglect of teenagers in the jail's adolescent unit. And Mayor de Blasio described an environment so toxic that inmates are released “more broken than when they came in.” The City administration has initiated reforms. But a growing number of community groups, advocates and elected representatives say that piecemeal changes are not enough. Their cry is getting louder: Shut Rikers Down.

Neil Barsky, founder and chairman, The Marshall Project; Elizabeth Glazer, director, Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice; Martin Horn, executive director, NYS Sentencing Commission; Khary Lazarre-White, executive director & co-founder, The Brotherhood/Sister Sol; Ann-Marie Louison, co-director of adult behavioral health programs, CASES; Glenn E. Martin, founder and president, JustLeadershipUSA; Charles Nuñez, community advocate, Youth Represent; Carmen Perez, executive director, The Gathering for Justice and co-founder of Justice League NYC; Jeff Smith, assistant professor of politics and advocacy, Milano School for International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy; Scott M. Stringer, comptroller, City of New York; Moderated by Errol Louis, political anchor, NY1 News and host, "Inside City Hall" 

Close Rikers Island? A Five-Minute How-To Guide with Martin Horn (2015) 

In recent days, top City and State elected leaders have made public statements warming to the once seemingly unthinkable idea of closing New York City’s violence- and scandal-scarred jail complex on Rikers Island. At a November 18, 2015 forum about Rikers Island, former City Correction Commissioner Martin Horn offered this succinct, five-minute how-to guide to effectively decommissioning Rikers Island – and producing a City correction system that is more decentralized, efficient, modern, and humane.

Politics and Policy: The Latino Vote and The 2016 US Presidential Election (2015)

No group is more crucial to the outcome of the 2016 presidential election than Latino voters, and no group of voters is more in play than Latinos during this campaign season.  A surge in Latinos of voting age combined with Donald Trump’s polarizing comments about Mexican immigrants have put Latinos at the center of the race for the White House. Next November the ranks of eligible Latino voters will have grown by 4 to 6-million since the 2012 presidential election.

Facing the FAFSA In The Fall:
Will the New Application Process Help or Hurt NYC Students? (2015)

The federal government’s notoriously complicated financial aid process may become simpler for students beginning this fall with a new rule allowing families to use tax information they have in hand from the “prior, prior” year’s returns. Watch a discussion of what the new financial aid rules will bring—and what else we can be doing to make the process easier on low-income families and first-generation college students.

Greg Darnieder, senior advisor to the secretary on the College Access Initiative, U.S. Department of Education; Kristen Harris, director of college readiness supports, NYC Department of Education.; Susan Mead, director of financial aid, Dutchess Community College, SUNY; Allison Palmer, director, College Access Center, New Settlement Apartments; Kevin Stump, northeast regional director, Young Invincibles; Kim Nauer, research director at the Center for New York City Affairs and author of FAFSA: A How-To Guide for High School Students (And the Adults Who Help Them)

Low-Wage NY: Pay Raises and Working New Yorkers (2015)

In July, Governor Cuomo announced plans to raise the minimum wage for fast-food chain employees to $15/hour incrementally over the next few years. And more recently in September, he pledged to campaign for the wage-raise to extend to all hourly workers state-wide. Is a wage increase the best way to help low-income workers in New York? Is the situation in New York City comparable to that of other cities that have begun raising the minimum wage? This event is moderated by Darrick Hamilton, Associate Professor of Economics and Urban Policy and Director of Milano Doctoral Program at The New School. A Nathan Levin Lecture on Public Policy.

Hurricane Sandy +3: Building Resilient Neighborhoods (2015)

Today, as the third anniversary of Sandy’s deadly landfall nears, we ask: What’s the post-storm state of social infrastructure in the areas where the storm hit hardest? Have government agencies and philanthropies seized – or missed – chances to strengthen grassroots groups in the storm’s aftermath? And how can the on-going post-Sandy recovery do more to help local residents increase the sum of opportunity, dignity, and hope in their neighborhoods? 

Klaus Jacob, special research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory; Onleilove Alston, executive director of Faith in New York; Hugh Hogan, executive director of the North Star Fund; Daniel Zarrilli, director of the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency; John Rudolph, executive producer of the Feet in 2 Worlds. A Nathan Levin Lecture on Public Policy.

Mr. Smith Goes to Prison: Book Launch (2015)

The fall from politico to prisoner isn't necessarily long, Smith—a former Missouri State Senator—learned, but the landing is a hard one. In 2009, Smith pleaded guilty to charges related to seemingly minor campaign malfeasance and earned himself a year and a day in Kentucky's FCI Manchester. Throughout his sentence, the young Senator tracked the greatest crime of all: the deliberate waste of untapped human potential.

Jeff Smith, Assistant Professor, The New School; Touré, author and MSNBC host;  Soffiyah Elijah,Executive Director of Correctional Association of New York; Dr. Carla Shedd, Columbia University sociologist; Melissa Mark Viverito, New York City Council Speaker

De Blasio Series
Affordable Housing: Rent and Reality (2015)

Mayor de Blasio’s ambitious affordable housing agenda is at the heart of his administration’s pledge to start a new chapter in “a tale of two cities.” In 2015, Albany serves as the rent-regulation battleground but the true impact of this fight will be felt in the five boroughs where more than 2.3 million people live in rent-regulated housing. While proposals to construct new affordable housing continue to garner the most media attention, the mayor’s State of the City address revealed just how dependent his strategy is on preserving the affordability of existing units. What does the battle over rent regulation in the state capital portend for turning de Blasio’s vision into reality? 

The New Civil Rights Agenda: Ben Jealous & Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins (2015)

Ben Jealous, Partner, Kapor Center for Social Impact and Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, Former CEO, Green for All speak on The New Civil Rights Agenda. Through this lens questions such as “How do you build an organized movement for racial justice?” and “How can advocates and community activists effectively use public policy as a tool for advancing a new civil rights agenda?” can be explored.

De Blasio Series
Reforming Juvenile Justice: Is 'Close to Home' Working? (2015)

Two years ago, New York City launched “Close to Home,” a groundbreaking juvenile justice reform. Its goal: providing group home-like detention for juvenile offenders instead of sending them to scandal-plagued Upstate facilities. Is "Close to Home" living up to its promise?

De Blasio Series
The Low-down on Pre-K from Insideschools (2015)

If your child turns 4 this year, he or she is eligible for free pre-kindergarten, either in a public school or at a site run by a community organization. The de Blasio administration gets an A for effort in its rapid expansion of pre-kindergarten, with more than 30,000 new seats last fall and another 20,000 planned for this coming fall. But what is the quality of these new programs? Even though the city is rapidly expanding free all-day pre-k programs, demand still outstrips supply in many neighborhoods. The staff of Insideschools and a panel of experts will tell you how to find a good program for your child and to navigate the application process.

Racial Disparities and the Criminal Justice System: 
Sam Myers, Jr. and Monifa Bandele (2015)

Sam Myers, Jr., Director and Roy Wilkins Professor of Human Relations and Social Justice, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota and Monifa Bandele, Senior Campaign Director for MomsRising.org frame their comments around the intersection of incarceration, race, policy, and economic inclusion and exclusion.

Race, Higher Education & Social Justice: 
john powell and Noliwe Rooks (2015)

A conversation with john powell, Executive Director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, University of California at Berkeley, and Noliwe Rooks, Director of Graduate Studies in Africana Studies, Cornell University.

Changing Demographics and the Economic Imperative: Manuel Pastor (2015)

This conversation with Manuel Pastor, Director, Program for Environmental and Regional Equity explores questions such as: what are the national demographic shifts and their impact on our country and the economy? What is the “uncommon common ground”? How can policies be used to advance an inclusive agenda that works for all?

De Blasio Series
Protecting the City's Children from Homelessness (2015)

The de Blasio administration has made reducing family homelessness a key priority. Nevertheless, homeless families spend on average over 400 days in city shelters, and the number of families is near a record high. How can we keep children in city-subsidized shelters safe? How can we use the time they spend in shelter to foster rather than derail their development? How can we support parents who are leaving shelters that may be the only homes their children have known? Clara Hemphill, interim director, Center for New York City Affairs; Christy Parque, executive director, Homeless Services United, Inc.; Janee Harvey, program director for preventative programs, CAMBA; Joyce McMillan, parent organizer, Child Welfare Organizing Project

Van Jones (2015)

Van Jones, President of Dream Corps Unlimited, speaks on “Rebuilding the Dream: Framing Civil Rights for the 21st Century.”