New report reveals significant barriers in equal access to education for New York City Haitian immigrant students

April 26, 2019

Survey shows systemic problems within Family Welcome Centers and makes recommendations for improvement

NEW YORK — A newly released report finds that New York City is failing new Haitian immigrant high school students. The report, based on a survey conducted by The Flanbwayan Literacy Project, in partnership with the Community Development Project, finds that Haitian immigrants enrolled in high schools through New York City Family Welcome Centers do not receive the information or support they need to be successful.

“We are calling on the New York City Department of Education to implement reforms that will allow immigrant youth to thrive in New York City high schools,” said Darnell Benoit, executive director of the Flanbwayan Haitian Literacy Project. “Students should be engaged in the process of selecting schools that will meet their academic needs.”


NYC DOE Fails Current English Language Learners Poor Enrollment Practices, Low Graduation Rates

By Darnell Benoit
August 24, 2015

Brooklyn, New York, February 22 —Haitian parents, newcomer students, and education rights advocates gather to express deep concerns about the lack of adequate services available to newcomer immigrant students at the New York City Department of Education (DOE) Family Welcome Centers (formerly the Enrollment Centers), the entry point to High School. Every day when newcomer immigrant students enter New York City, they are required to go through the Family Welcome Center to get a seat in High School, a complicated process. The DOE focuses on the high school application and entry process for students already in the system, but falls short of providing such information to newly arrived immigrant students entering the system for the first time.

Newcomer immigrant students are denied the options afforded to middle school students applying to high school, which includes school choice, school interviews and school visits. At the Family Welcome Centers, families only have a few minutes with an enrollment officer to register for high school, in comparison to the several months that others get. Newcomer immigrant students are often misplaced in overcrowded schools that lack adequate supports and programs, even schools soon scheduled to close, and are therefore forced to repeat the process.


Press Releases


Contact: Dr. Ramatu Bangura, (718) 665-2486, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



APRIL 17-24, 2013

April 3, 2013

NEW YORK – We invite diverse immigrant communities in New York City (NYC) to join us for a week of Teach-Ins and other events intended to amplify the voice of immigrant communities in educational reforms and to build awareness about the needs of English Language Learners (ELLs), one of the lowest performing subgroups in NYC public schools. Events will kick off with an ELLs Speak Out Party on April 18, 2013 to be held at the Sauti Yetu Center for African Women (2417 Third Avenue, Suite 205, Bronx, New York 10451).

The newly formed Coalition of Culturally and Linguistically-specific Organizations in Support of Education (CCLOSE) partners with Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) to convene the inaugural ELL Education Rights Week to be held April 17-24, 2013.

“Our goal is to bring together communities across diverse languages, cultures and boroughs to unite around the idea that all of NYC’s children deserve a quality education regardless of where their families come from. Many parents don’t know what they are entitled to and therefore don’t know how to hold the system accountable,” says Darnell Benoit, Executive Director of the Flanbwayan Haitian Literacy Project in Brooklyn.

Recent reforms have resulted in dramatic changes in educational efforts towards new arrivals in NYC. According to a 2012 report from the NYC Department of Education (DOE), student performance has improved across a variety of populations. However, ELLs consistently underperform on statewide tests and continue to graduate at lower rates than their peers. Though the New York State Education Department is currently monitoring the DOE’s progress in improving services for ELLs under the Part 154 Corrective Action Plan, more needs to be done to ensure that the Dream is accessible for all immigrant students.

CCLOSE is a coalition of culturally and linguistically specific immigrant organizations in NYC who seek to strengthen the relationships between immigrant communities and schools as well as advocate for enhanced services that ensure that ELLs have the resources they need to perform academically and thrive socially. CCLOSE is a collaboration between the Sauti Yetu Center for African Women and Flanbwayan Haitian Literacy Project, immigrant-led community-based organizations that provide services to ELLs throughout NYC. AFC works to ensure that all students, especially those who are at greatest risk for school-based discrimination and academic failure, receive the best education that NYC can provide.

For more information, contact:

Dr. Ramatu Bangura, Program Director, (718) 665-2486, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Helping Young Haitian Immigrants

August 24, 2015
Flanbwayan founder and director Darnell Benoit and student member Pavarotti Absalon (Photo courtesy of Flanbwayan Haitian Literacy Project)

Flanbwayan founder and director Darnell Benoit and student member Pavarotti Absalon (Photo courtesy of Flanbwayan Haitian Literacy Project)

When 17-year-old Pavarotti Absalon came to New York City to visit his father last June, he had no idea that he would be staying permanently.

Absalon says that about two months into his summer stay, his father told him that he would not be returning to Haiti. Instead, he would start at a new high school in the fall and attend a program designed to help him make the transition.

“I was a little bit excited, but you know all of my friends are in Haiti and leaving them was not easy,” he said.