The NYC Test & Trace Corps announced today that Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) participating in the ‘NYC Vaccine Referral Bonus’ program, an initiative launched four months ago to encourage more New Yorkers to get the COVID-19 vaccine, have now facilitated over 11,000 vaccinations to members of their school communities. The City has worked with PTAs and other community-based organizations to encourage their members to get vaccinated, awarding them $100 for each referral that leads to an individual receiving their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a City-run site.
Since the program’s launch at the end of June, 279 PTAs have participated, including two PTAs that have reached 200 referrals and earned $20,000, the cap on available bonuses for each organization’s outreach efforts, and over 30 PTAs who have reached more than 100 referrals. The NYC Test & Trace Corps provided mobile vaccination units or vaccine clinics at every public school in New York City to make the vaccination of 12 to 17-year-old and 5 to 11-year-old students as convenient and comfortable as possible.
“Our partnerships with participating PTAs participating have empowered school leadership groups across New York City to encourage their communities to get vaccinated and provide the resources parents need to make informed decisions about the health and safety of their children,” said NYC Test & Trace Corps Campaign Director Jonathan Viguers. “The Vaccine Referral Bonus Program can provide critical funding to schools to help account for money lost in the absence of regular fundraising activities during the pandemic. We are excited to see how the money PTA’s earn will benefit their students and, with the program’s recent extension, look forward to continuing these success stories with many additional schools and community organizations to come.”
“Vaccines are our passports out of this pandemic and we know that partnering with parents is the best way to keep our babies safe and healthy,” said Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter. “After a year and a half of not being able to raise money as they traditionally do, PTAs are keeping our students safe and academically enriched by eagerly participating in the Vaccine Referral Bonus program and we are excited that the program is being extended.”
The Vaccine Referral Bonus program will provide a total of up to $7,000,000 in direct payments to participating organizations and is available to small businesses, civic, community, faith, labor PTA, tenant and other organizations. Participating organizations can continue to earn referrals through January 31, 2022.
Patients getting vaccinated can select the referral organization of their choice by providing that organization’s referral code before receiving their first dose COVID-19 vaccination at any City-run vaccine site.
“For PS 261 in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, the Vaccine Referral Bonus program has hugely helped incentivize our community to get their 5-11-year-old children vaccinated,” said Supriya Doshi and Christine Egan, President and Fundraising Co-Chair of PS 261’s Parent-Teacher Association. “The PTA is thrilled with the enthusiasm surrounding this program, as well as the results. Our families are excited that they can help fundraise for our school without the money coming from their own pockets! Our PTA plans to use this unexpected windfall to fund resources including lunch/recess counselors, a part-time garden educator, puberty workshops for our 4th- and 5th-graders, and whatever else our administration deems essential for our diverse community of 600 students—especially when enrollment is down and public-school funding is being cut across the city.”
“The Vaccine Referral Bonus program encourages parents and children to get vaccinated and educates them on the benefits of doing so,” said Ferdie Lee, President of the Parent Association of PS/IS 102Q. “The incentives were a fantastic motivator for those who needed it, as well as a great reward for those who were already on board. The referral program also allowed our Parent Association to raise money when we were unable to rely on our traditional forms of fundraising. At our first school vaccine pop-up event, 68 students (accompanied by their parents) participated, and the referral money will be used to fund student-parent activities and school beautification projects.”
“Having a vaccination site right at our school has made the difference for a lot of folks between getting vaccinated or not,” said Jennifer Tuttle, President of the Parent-Teacher Association of PS 166 Queens. “Since they’re already dropping off or picking up at school, they can just get in line and get vaccinated. The monetary incentivize is a big encouragement, as well. Our funding was hampered by the pandemic, and this gives us the boost we need to continue with initiatives for our student body. We bring in art and cultural enrichment each year and this will allow us to bring that back to our school. We’re so grateful!”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed our lives with devastating effects, so we strongly believe that there is no greater duty as a parent than to protect our children,” said the PTA Board of PS 124. “With the referral program, our PTA was able to amp up enough collective interest through our outreach efforts in getting kids vaccinated and protected against covid-19. The money raised from this vaccine referral bonus program is so important because our PTA, like most schools, have been negatively impacted by Covid-19 which has put our fundraising efforts at a standstill. We hope to use the funds for STEM workshops and some school improvement, like providing water bottle filling stations so that our children can have clean water to drink.”
“COVID has left deep wounds in our community—we have all lost so much, including parents and a beloved teacher, the first in the City to die of the disease,” said Jessica Flores, President of PS 9 Brooklyn’s Parent-Teacher Association. “We were ready to fight back with vaccination. Thanks to the referral program, we can also fight back against the collateral damage the last almost two years have caused. We will use the $20,000 we will earn via this program to help the school combat the educational and social-emotional losses our children have experienced, through science, music, and arts enrichment programming. We are so thankful to everyone who made this possible.”
“The Vaccine Referral Bonus program has been a total win-win of a partnership!” said Jessamyn Lee, Treasurer of the PTA of PS 84 Jose de Diego in Brooklyn. “The program engaged PTAs like ours to use our communication and social media channels to promote vaccination opportunities at the local level, peer to peer and, as teen and pediatric vaccines have become available, students have also gotten involved! The financial incentives for referral organizations like PTAs are especially helpful since our ability to hold in-person school fundraisers remains hindered by the pandemic, limiting the support we can offer our school. The Vaccine Referral Bonus Program is especially great because it comes at no cost to individuals, benefits schools, and most importantly paves our collective way out of this awful pandemic!”
“The Vaccine Referral Bonus program has been a great tool to rally our incredible PS 20 community around our school’s efforts to create a safe and healthy learning environment for our kids,” said David Pristin, President of the PS 20 Clinton Hill School Parent-Teacher Association. “The pandemic has created additional, often unpredictable costs for our school and the funding earned through the program will be critical to support outdoor learning initiatives, as well as essential school and community infrastructure, enrichment programs for our kids, and more.”
“Thanks to the referral program, more parents brought their children to the school to get vaccinated rather than their pediatrician or the major drugstores,” said Nick Masson and Audrey Sambuca, Co-Presidents of PS 122Q Parent-Teacher Association. “The benefit of the referral money takes some of the burden off of our PTO and Families within the 122 community with regards to fundraising. The added money allows us to bring in great arts enrichment programs, as well as giving back within our school community to those in need.”
“The Vaccine Referral Bonus program has given the PTA at PS 162 the opportunity to inform parents about vaccine eligibility and availability in our community,” said Lucy Shon-Santana and Sandy Chiang, co-Presidents of the Parent-Teacher Association of Public School 162 Queens, The John Golden School. “The referral money we have earned will go towards supporting our students and families with supplemental activities, enrichment, as well as fun and active programming. Many of our students were remote learners over the past year which resulted in decreased social interaction and some learning loss. These programs are just what we need to help our students increase their confidence, find leadership opportunities and develop meaningful relationships with their peers and families.”
“To raise awareness about the Vaccine Referral Bonus program, we included COVID and vaccine information in our weekly newsletters and social media communications to families,” said Annalisa Petersen and Kristin Savov, Co-Presidents of PS166’s Parent-Teacher Association. “After children ages 5 to 11 became eligible for vaccination, we hosted a virtual Q&A session with medical experts regarding children and vaccines. We were excited when a vaccine van came to our street and parked nearby our school. Parent volunteers worked to get the word out over social media and helped pass out fliers informing families about the program and where to go to get vaccinated. We appreciate this program, which will help the entire school community, and are glad this program is available to all schools in the city.”
“The Vaccine Referral Bonus program has raised over $5,000 for our Parents’ Association so far,” said Renee Wong, President of PS 81’s Parents’ Association. “Having a mobile vaccination site at our school made it incredibly easy to participate. Fundraising for the school has been difficult because we could not have in-person events. Our organization hopes to use this money to bring back the many programs we have missed since the start of the pandemic.”
“Fundraising has been hard due to the pandemic,” said Lisa Wong, Event Coordinator for PS130M’s Parents’ Association. “At our school, every grade has a performing arts program that is not funded by the DOE and we will use the funds we receive through the referral program to help pay for these performing arts programs. Parents want to get their children vaccinated during this pandemic and with the referral program, parents are grateful that they are able to help our school community.”
“At PS 110 in Greenpoint we strive to bring art residencies to each and every student, said Shannon Roop, President of PS 110’s Parent-Teacher Association. “Our fundraising each year is typically what helps to bring arts enrichments such as Latin dance, musical theatre, ballroom dance, and Shakespeare to our students. Without our traditional fundraising, these programs were definitely in jeopardy but the referral money will help keep the arts at our school! It is such a blessing!”
“The referral program has been a great motivator for us because it allows us to present parents with a way to help the greater school community at no extra cost or effort on their part while at the same time protecting their own child,” said Cinthia Reyes, President of PS 56’s Parents’ Association. “It’s win/win! Funding provided through the referral program will allow us to apply to the Cool Culture Citywide Cultural Access Program. Our PA is overjoyed to give our children and their families the invaluable opportunity to enrich their lives with access to NYC’s museums, gardens and zoos for free. The pandemic has added so much trauma to our children’s lives and being outside in our parks or developing their artistic expression is crucial to their healing process.”
“The Vaccine Referral Bonus program has given kids of all ages the opportunity to keep themselves and others safe from a deadly disease, and the $100 incentive is a great bonus to help in this vital effort,” said Melissa Lika, President of PS 39P’s Parent Teacher Association. “I hope to earn enough money through the program to give the children of my school a wonderful end of year outside festival.”
“The vaccine trucks allowed us to get nearly 300 students vaccinated in a single day AND raise $20,000 for our school PTA through the Vaccine Referral Bonus Program,” said Jenn Cribbs & Felicia DeVita, Co-Presidents of PS 10 Parent-Teacher Association. “These funds can go directly toward providing additional teacher’s aides, funding mindfulness programs and recess coaches, and expanding STEAM robotics enrichment for our students. The impact can’t be overstated for our Title One school during a time when so many in our community have struggled financially.”
“We are very excited to benefit from this program, and thrilled that we have reached 175 referrals,” said Nancy Randall and Jenny Woodson, Co-Presidents of PS 58’s Parent-Teacher Association. “It encourages organizations to support one another, and we saw this in District 15. Our PTA leaders from different schools came together to increase referrals to PTAs with low numbers. Many emails were sent to families across the district publicizing which schools’ families should bolster through referrals. Now with the program’s extension, we will continue to get the word out!”
“Once we signed up for the referral program, it became the main focus of our fundraising initiatives for the one and a half weeks leading up to our school having the vaccines onsite—we have never had this much communication about a fundraiser that wasn’t also a community event.,” said Mel Boller, President of PS 130 Parkside’s Parent-Teacher Association. “We created flyers with information about how to find vaccination sites and included step by step instructions on how to find a local site that earned $100 for the individual and the PTA. It reached as many people as possible and inspired a lot of families to not wait to be vaccinated. The money that we earned from the referral program will go directly towards hiring a consultant to provide professional development for teachers around social/emotional and self-regulation support for students. The teachers have seen the impact the pandemic has had on students first-hand these first few months of school. We aim to help those students who have had a hard time adjusting back to in-person school, as well as the teachers.”
“The money that we earned from the referral program will go directly towards hiring a consultant to provide professional development for teachers around social/emotional and self-regulation support for students,” said Toni Smith-Thompson, Co-President of the Parent Association of Central Park East II. “The teachers have seen the impact the pandemic has had on students first-hand these first few months of school. It’s not surprising given that some of these children have been out of school for 18 months and now have to re-learn how to be in a classroom among peers. There are a lot of social skills that were missed for that student in just those 18 months. We aim to help those students who have had a hard time adjusting back to in-person school, as well as the teachers.”
The Test & Trace Corps is the City’s comprehensive effort to test, trace, and provide support for every case of COVID-19 and every person exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. Through a partnership with NYC Health + Hospitals and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Test & Trace Corps allows the City to immediately isolate and care for those who test positive for the virus and then rapidly track, assess, and quarantine anyone who may have been exposed. To help all New Yorkers safely separate at home and monitor their health status, the Take Care pillar of the Test & Trace Corps also offers free hotel rooms with wraparound services for New Yorkers who are unable to safely separate in their own homes. For those safely separating at home, contact tracers perform daily calls and conduct in-person visits as necessary. These calls allow tracers to gauge the progress of cases, ensure proper compliance with separation protocol, and connect people to more supportive services as necessary. Today, 97% of all COVID-19 cases and 96% of contacts reported following isolation and quarantine requirements.
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