What is Zone 126?

We are an organization focused on creating positive impact in the communities within area codes 11101, 11102, and 11106 in Astoria and Long Island City. While this area of Queens is enjoying an economic boom, our children are continuing to grow up in generational poverty. We’re utilizing Collective Impact to ensure our children are supported from cradle to career.

map

The Challenge

More than 20,000 families are living in concentrated pockets of poverty in Astoria and Long Island City. Over 8,000 are children. A child living in poverty faces multiple environmental, social, and physical barriers to academic success.

The Solution

Build strong educational pipelines that close achievement gaps for Black, Latinx, and low-income students. Promote a culture of shared responsibility to change the learning ecosystem and direct resources toward student success.

Our History

Zone 126 was created in 2011 by The Thomas and Jeanne Elmezzi Foundation after a two-year extensive study done in public housing. A needs assessment analysis (referred to as Project 126) concentrated on three zip codes, 11101 (NYCHA Queensbridge Houses), 11102 (NYCHA Astoria Houses), 11106 (NYCHA Ravenswood Houses). This area of focus is a concentration of poverty inclusive of 20,000 low-income citizens within these three public housing developments that have the greatest social and economic need in Western Queens, New York. The prime focus of residents in public housing was clear: high quality education for their children. With this in mind, the Elmezzi Foundation created Zone 126. Using Collective Impact as a framework, Zone 126’s role has been to attract resources to build local community-based organizations’ capacity and connect schools and families to the resources that will improve conditions for success.

Our Team

Anthony Lopez

Anthony Lopez

Executive Director

Fun Fact:

Tony believes that training for and running a marathon is a metaphor for life.

Anthony Lopez

Executive Director

Tony is a Bronx native and a seasoned community leader and advocate for youth and education reform. He is an accomplished non-profit executive with deep roots in community organizing, affinity group building and cross-sector collaboration in New York City. His experience as a reliable thought and strategic partner on educational policy and community philanthropy has contributed to his successful track record as a non-profit leader. Tony hold a Bachelor's degree in Sociology from Binghamton University and a certificate from Columbia University’s Institute for Non-Profit Management. He is also an alumnus of the American Express Leadership Academy.
Anju J. Rupchandani

Anju J. Rupchandani

Managing Director

Fun Fact:

You can always catch Anju armed with three things a bagel, a book, and a cup of tea.

Anju J. Rupchandani

Managing Director

Anju J. Rupchandani is a native of Astoria, Queens and a graduate from William C. Bryant High School, one of Zone126’s targeted schools. She first began her career in youth development close to 20 years ago with the Sports & Arts in Schools Foundation at her local elementary school in District # 30. While attending college she continued to work in the field of youth development in a variety of leadership roles. Anju’s experience varies a great deal from program design and administration, to facilitating school-age child care trainings, as well as having knowledge in fundraising and oversight of multiple endangered out-of-school time programs. Anju has held positions as Program Director at SASF, Sunnyside Community Services, and the Educational Alliance/Boys & Girls Club of America. Anju holds a dual bachelor’s degree in Adolescent Education and History from Pace University’s School of Education, an Executive Management Certificate from Fordham University, Executive Certification from Columbia Business School and a Master’s degree from Bank Street College of Education in Leadership in Community Based Learning.
Andre T. Stith

Andre T. Stith

Organizing Director

Long Island City High School

Fun Fact:

Andre T. Stith

Organizing Director

Long Island City High School

Andre Stith is an alumnus of the Long Island City public school system having attended PS 171Q, IS 126Q and Bryant High School. A community resident and advocate, he is a father of 4 and a grandfather of 6. He is dedicated to helping bring positive change for the community he serves and the families that live there.
Lisseth Castillo

Lisseth Castillo

Data Entry Assistant

Long Island City High School

Fun Fact:

Lisseth Castillo

Data Entry Assistant

Long Island City High School

Lisseth was born and raised in Mexico but moved to NY at the age of 12. She is a student at Borough of Manhattan Community College studying graphic design. She graduated from Long Island City High School and was a Zone 126 intern her senior year.

Denise L. Catlyn

Attendance Coordinator

P.S. 171

Fun Fact:

She enjoys helping people and spending time with her daughters and reading autobiographies and Christian Stories.

Denise L. Catlyn

Attendance Coordinator

P.S. 171

Denise is a native of Queens Ozone Park and Jamaica NY. Graduated from Francis Lewis High School. She worked for Department of Education for over 18 years as Educational Assistant and lived in Virginia for four years working at Minneland daycare as a Site Director and the University of the Potomac as International Student Advisor, and Administrative Assistant. She is a mother of two daughters. Denise obtained a Bachelor of Science in Community Human Services and Education at SUNY Empire State College and a Master’s degree in Counseling and Social Behavior at Mercy College.
Claudia M. Esteva

Claudia M. Esteva

Director of College & Career Readiness

Long Island City High School

Fun Fact:

Claudia loves to bake homemade desserts.

Claudia M. Esteva

Director of College & Career Readiness

Long Island City High School

Made in the Dominican Republic, grown in the Bronx, Claudia has always had a knack for connecting with the community. Her career in education started when she initially went away to a summer program at the age of 12. Ever since then, she has been volunteering and working for organizations that continue to bring youth the opportunity to better their education. She has worked for non profit organizations for high-achieving, low-income students that prepare their participants for higher education and career opportunities. Those experiences has since led her to be a Community Liaison where she arranged family engagement activities and hosted an array of community resources for a Bronx middle school

Stephen LoGuidice

Administrative Assistant

Fun Fact:

"Hard work doesn't bother me. I actually like it.”

Stephen LoGuidice

Administrative Assistant

Steve is a Queens native who is now raising his family in Astoria. He holds a bachelor of science degree from the College of Aeronautics and has a diverse professional background, which includes: airport management, restaurant management, and being a small business owner. He has formed connections with communities by supporting local organizations through fundraising, advocacy and entrepreneurship. Steve is inspired by Zone 126’s mission to provide continuous support to Long Island City youth and their families.
Valentina Di Loreto

Valentina Di Loreto

Community School Director

Intermediate School 126

Fun Fact:

Valentina is a cross country All American athlete.

Valentina Di Loreto

Community School Director

Intermediate School 126

Valentina is a proud Latinx excited about working in the diverse community of Astoria. Before joining the IS 126 community, she graduated from Columbia University with an M.S. in Negotiation and Conflict resolution; her studies led her to practice in the field of diversity, inclusion and restorative justice. She has extensive experience working with children and families in multicultural communities impacted by socio-economic disparities. Her travels have enriched her perspective on the responsibility each citizen holds in engaging locally to impact issues globally. Valentina promotes parental engagement, social and emotional development, and community building.
Michelle Makabali

Michelle Makabali

Community School Director

Long Island City High School

Fun Fact:

Besides her love of music and education, Michelle enjoys cooking, trying new recipes, is a fan of football, and traveling.

Michelle Makabali

Community School Director

Long Island City High School

Michelle Makabali brings 12 years of experience in the education field to Zone 126. She received a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from Molloy College in Long Island, NY. Michelle most taught music education at a high needs urban school in Denver, CO for K-12 students. In addition, she outreached to local businesses, creating fundraisers that helped build stronger relationships between the school and the community. Her passion for education through music has led her to many opportunities to help students and families achieve personal goals and success. Michelle is excited to utilize her skills and experiences as Community School Coordinator at Long Island City High School.
Jeimy Portillo

Jeimy Portillo

Data Entry Assistant

Long Island City High School

Fun Fact:

Jeimy likes to go on runs with her dog, dance, and understands the Portuguese language.

Jeimy Portillo

Data Entry Assistant

Long Island City High School

Jeimy S. Portillo Torres graduated in June 2018 from Long Island City High School. She was elected to participate in a school-based internship during her senior year, where she enjoyed learning how to work in a team.
Katey Ray

Katey Ray

Community School Director

PS 171Q- Peter G. Van Alst

Fun Fact:

Katey loves music and dancing and is an avid NY sports fan.

Katey Ray

Community School Director

PS 171Q- Peter G. Van Alst

Katey served as an educator at a public elementary school in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn for 10 years, where she taught 3rd and 4th grade and Academic Intervention Services. Born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, she graduated with a B.A. in General Communications from Florida State University. She worked in the public relations industry for 3 years before joining the New York City Teaching Fellows and attained an M.S. for Teachers from Pace University in 2006. Katey earned a Masters of Education in School Counseling from Hunter College in 2016. She is dedicated to providing support to families to help their young learners overcome the obstacles that prevent them from achieving success in the academic world.

Nilber Remon

Data Coordinator

Fun Fact:

Nílber is currently on a weight-lifting regimen.

Nilber Remon

Data Coordinator

Born in Astoria, Queens, but raised in South Florida, Nílber’s childhood dream was to return to the city of their birth and realized this in late 2018 after reaching a critical crossroads and made a transformative decision to set themselves on a new personal and professional life-path. On the professional track, this led them to Zone 126, devoted to and located in the very neighborhood (three blocks from the hospital) where they were born. Since college, most of Nílber’s professional career has been immersed in the non-profit sector, dedicated to supporting the fulfillment of causes and missions fighting for and uplifting marginalized communities such as LGBTQ+ communities or youth of color by helping to provide the strategic and foundational support services that undergird every organization whether it be operations, logistics and/or data management.

Ana Villacis

Data Entry Coordinator

PS 171Q & IS 126Q

Fun Fact:

Ana Villacis

Data Entry Coordinator

PS 171Q & IS 126Q

Ana Villacis is a proud immigrant who moved to New York at an early age. She graduated from Brooklyn College, majored in Psychology and is currently completing her master’s in social work at Fordham University. Currently she is interning at The International Rescue Committee as an Academic Coach assisting immigrant families navigate the NY public school system. Her interests are serving underprivileged youth and immigrant advocacy. Previously, Ana worked within the Early Intervention program where she assisted families with children with developmental delays. Ana’s other interests are music, dance, and fitness. Ana is excited to continue working with families in the community and is looking forward to graduating in May 2020.
Catherine Vozikis

Catherine Vozikis

Attendance Coordinator

IS 126Q

Fun Fact:

Catherine loves to read, travel, and practice yoga!

Catherine Vozikis

Attendance Coordinator

IS 126Q

Catherine Vozikis is a proud Queens native and product of public schools. She graduated from New York University with a Bachelor's degree in Social Work. Throughout college she served as a mentor and guide in dynamic capacities, working with populations such as first-year students, homeless youth, and adults with co-occurring disorders. Serving as an educator and mentor with City Year Philadelphia in a K-8 public school after college, she saw lateness and poor attendance as an overarching issue that affected academic performance. Her experience is what led her to Zone 126, where she became an Attendance Success Mentor Coordinator at IS 126Q. Catherine is determined in supporting students and their families in getting their needs met and breaking down barriers to success, while also making school fun and engaging for all.

Get in touch!

Questions or comments? Want to get involved? We’d love to hear from you. Fill out the contact form with your name and message, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

31-10 23rd Street
Ground Floor
Astoria, NY 11106