In Our Community – Winter 2011

Career Success with FrontStart

Omar J. Martin SVMP ’00 recently founded FrontStart Corporation, an internet company designed to help people find their dream career and match students with educational, summer and job training programs around the world.  FrontStart has over 500 careers for people to explore in order to determine where they best fit.  Whether you are a student, young professional or educator, the site offers resources tailored to your needs.  The site is interactive, allowing members to post videos and photos to their “yearbook” and connect with people who have similar aspirations.  Simply put, it is an online social community on the road to success.  We want to put everyone in “Front” of their education.  Visit FrontStart at today!


Hosting the Ultimate Block Party

By: Ron Zofnat SVMP ‘07

Over the past years I worked with a fantastic group of educators in preparation for an event called The Ultimate Block Party (UBP), which took place in early October 2010 in New York City’s Central Park, with over 50,000 people attending the event.


The Ultimate Block Party aims to create a multi-pronged social movement that champions the importance of play and playful learning in children’s lives.  We seek to ensure that children gain the competitive skills necessary in the 21st century world and to build a public groundswell on the value of play in fostering lifelong learning in the sciences and arts.  In effect, our mission is to affect policy about children and the way we deliver education in our society.


The statistics are staggering.  While it is known that engaging children in learning through play and the arts is an integral part of how they learn, this method is under siege.  The major skills required for the 21st century include collaboration, communication, content acquisition, critical thinking, creative innovation and character.  Research shows that playful learning provides an opportunity to build these skills in essential ways, yet 40 million elementary school children will have no arts or music training in their schools this year.  Fully 50 percent of children have no art training in the 8th grade.


I served as Co-Chair of the NY Young Professionals Board for this event.  My role focused on targeting two key elements for UBP, starting with the ‘UBP Needs List.’  While we had many sponsors, there were materials we needed that could not provide.  Together, with a team of 20 volunteers, we found vendors across NYC who provided us with 25,000 magnifying glasses, printers for the pamphlets we distributed, paper for paper airplanes, singers and musicians to play music around the park, and even computer programmers to make customized iPod applications for the event.  Secondly, I led the grass-roots publicity effort to spread the word around NYC.  I managed a database of contacts spanning over 10,000 individuals whom we leveraged to get the word out.  I coordinated field trips with Big Brother Big Sister NYC and  We reached out to nurseries, hotel concierges, K-12 social planners, community organizations and religious institutions.  Thankfully the weather was great and we were able to host New York’s largest “Simon Says” game (and even managed to capture the attention of the Central Park strollers).  Our mission was heard loud and clear in Central Park and we are moving forward by trying to launch UBP events in other cities and continuing our vision.