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Winner of Grassroots Community Planning Award Announced

MAS congratulates Kelley Williams, the winner of the 2010 Yolanda Garcia Community Planner (YGCP) Award.  The award acknowledges the hard-working leaders of grassroots, community-based planning. MAS created the award in 2007 to commemorate Yolanda Garcia, a community activist in the South Bronx. Yolanda Gonzalez, the daughter of Ms. Garcia, will present Williams with the award on October 22, at the MAS Summit for New York City.

Ms. Williams has been a community organizer for more than three decades, working to maintain an ethnically, racially, and economically diverse Upper West Side.  At the age of thirteen, she became involved in community and tenant organizing.  Since then, Williams has organized hundreds of low-income tenants on the West Side. In 1991, she organized parents to form a small, community-based public middle school named the Community Action School (CAS). Today, CAS has an enrollment of 230 students, and is committed to serving an academically and culturally diverse student body.  Then, in 1993, Williams developed and secured funding for the Learning Action Center for Academic Success and Achievement (LACASA). The program is designed to help school-age children of all learning abilities reach their academic potential through after-school and summer programs.  LACASA is now operating programs in two public schools and enrolls more than 250 participants each year.

Currently, as executive director of Strycker’s Bay Neighborhood Council, Ms. Williams assists low-income residents of the Upper West Side in overcoming challenges related to affordable housing, economic self-sufficiency, and neighborhood revitalization.