Harlem RBI: NYC Food Based Community Organization Spotlight

by nycadmin

Harlem RBI

photo courtesy of Harlem RBI

photo courtesy of Harlem RBI

Harlem RBI provides inner-city youth with opportunities to Play, Learn and Grow, using the power of teams to Coach, Teach and Inspire youth to recognize their potential and realize their dreams.

Harlem RBI, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, is a unique, year-round youth development program based in East Harlem, New York. Since its founding in 1991, Harlem RBI has grown to serve more than 1,500 boys and girls annually, ages 5-22, providing them with year-round sports, educational and enrichment activities.

DREAM Charter School, founded by Harlem RBI in 2008, prepares students for high-performing high schools, colleges and beyond through rigorous academic program that develops critical thinkers who demonstrate a love of learning, strong character, and a commitment to wellness and active citizenship. DREAM inspires all students to recognize their potential and realize their dreams. Today the school serves 400 students in grades K-7 and will grow one grade each year until reaches capacity at 450 students, grades K-8.

Tell us specifically about the food-related work you do or services you provide.

At DREAM, the importance of maintaining a healthy mind and body is woven deeply into the school’s mission and educational philosophy. The Health and Wellness Specialists at DREAM work to ensure the health of our students and families. Given the particular health challenges present in East Harlem (epidemic levels of childhood obesity, asthma and diabetes), DREAM views this as a vital and unique aspect of its program.

We want to ensure that all parts of the community understand the expectations of food and drink allowed in the building. Food marketing makes things much more difficult when trying to choose the right foods and drinks for our scholars. As a result, DREAM created a list of what is not allowed at DREAM. If foods of this nature are brought into DREAM, they are confiscated until the end of the school day.

Examples of foods not allowed at DREAM:

Fast food:

  • McDonalds/ Burger King
  • Pizza Hut
  • Dunkin Donuts
  • White Castle
  • And things of that nature

Sugary drinks:

  • Soda
  • Gatorade/ Powerade
  • Kool-Aid
  • Arizona Iced Teas
  • Coffee/ Caffeinated drinks
  • Zero Calorie Drinks
  • Snapple
  • Vitamin Water
  • Capri-Sun/ Sunny D
  • And things similar to that nature


  • Cookies
  • Potato Chips

Tell us about a recent success you’ve had with your food-related work.

According to Kaitlin Rodriguez, Health and Wellness Specialist, DREAM’s policy of not allowing junk food at school helps keep students focused and they have a clear mind set throughout the learning day.

Any exciting new events or projects?

DREAM has a pilot program called BOKS: “Building our Kids’ Success”, which is an early morning enrichment program, where the staff and students focus on physical activity and nutrition education.

Fact Sheet (DREAM Charter School and its Health and Wellness Initiatives)

Website: www.dreamschoolnyc.org

Key staff : Kaitlin Rodriguez, Health and Wellness Specialist and Brett Fazio, the Dean of Students. View full staff list. The team works closely with school’s Family Engagement Team and families

Areas you serve:  East Harlem, New York

Founding Date:  2008

Founded by: Harlem RBI



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