Today’s news:

FIAO community building

The Federation of Italian American Organizations of Brooklyn has announced its most ambitious fund raising effort to date: the “Building a Stronger Community Campaign,” which officially kicked off during FIAO’s gala celebration of 31 years in operation.

The gala, held at the EI Caribe Country Club, 5945 Strickland Avenue, began with a four-minute video presentation entitled: “FIAO: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow,” introducing the new campaign, while giving a brief glimpse into the history of FIAO and some of the programs and services it currently provides to the community at large.

The federation has been a unifying force in the many diverse communities of Brooklyn and the metropolitan New York area, creating and fostering a wide range of programs for residents and incoming residents of the borough. Representing 40 community organizations and thousands of members from diverse backgrounds and ethnic origins, this 501(C)3 not-for-profit organization currently operates with a 17-member board of directors, roughly 200 full- and part-time employees, and hundreds of community-based volunteers.

The “Building A Stronger Community Campaign” was created with the aid and support of Future Funds, LLC, to raise $18 million to build and endow an Italian American Cultural Center to support Italian cultural preservation and as a focal point for multi-ethnic and multicultural services for the people of the New York metropolitan area.

This new business and economic development hub, which will be located on two property lots: the northeastern corner of 18th Avenue, and Benson Avenue, and will also serve as a center for the presentation of contemporary and traditional art, performance arts, including film exhibition and live drama productions, youth services, and sports programming. The project, which is being partially funded by federal, state, and city government agencies, will provide, by way of this new fundraising campaign, private entities (i.e. philanthropists, corporate and commercial donors, etc.) opportunities to become involved in this very ambitious, one-of-a-kind mission of a community-building.

Services provided to the communities served by FIAO that will be enhanced by the Italian-American Cultural Center will include neighborhood improvement, after school prevention programs, youth outreach services, pre-employment skills training programs, year-round soccer, housing and emergency housing, public assistance and referrals, HEAP applications and home attendant referrals, English as a Second Language (ESL) programs, Italian cultural and language programs, youth leadership development programs, and the Annual Brooklyn Columbus Day Parade, a traditional staple of FIAO’s annual events.

The Italian American Cultural Center is scheduled to break ground in fall 2008, and based on its current design plans, will rise as one majestic structure that FIAO predicts is “likely to be the cover story of every modern architectural trade paper in the world.”

To learn more about the “Building a Stronger Community Campaign,” visit FIAO’s official Web site at www.fiaobrooklyn.org.

You can also access “FIAO: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow,” created by one of FIAO’s member organizations, the Domani Vision Film Society, organizer of “VISIONFEST: The Other Festival,” on the site.

For more, contact Bruno Derlin at 718-259-2828 or via e-mail at b.derlin@fiaobrooklyn.org.

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