By Danielle Beurteaux
David Spungen: Their commitment and confidence in what they
were doing was very clear.
In February of last year, David Spungen visited a child care
program in Woodside, New York, and watched the children design
their own teddy bears. "The kids were cute and sweet and fun,"
says Spungen. "It looked like any other preschool, except you
think about what these kids have to deal with and what
they’re going home to."
||David Spungen: Their
commitment and confidence in what they were doing was
The children were part of a program run by the Child Center
of NY, a Queens-based organization that provides an array of
social services to New York City’s at-risk
children and their families, including child care, tutoring,
mental health counseling and after-school programs.
Spungen, 50, CEO and founder of Hillview Capital Advisors, a
New York– and Radnor, Pennsylvania–based
investment firm, which manages $1.3 billion, had been looking
for an organization that needed his help and dealt with an
issue he cared about. The Child Center of NY fit the bill.
Spungen, who has two young children of his own, is aware
that not all families are as fortunate as his.
"It’s heartbreaking if you have kids who
don’t have the opportunities and advantages that
our kids do to be successful in life," he says.
The majority of the Child Center of NY’s
clients are first-generation Americans, says Spungen. English
is not their parents’ first language, and they
face a multitude of challenges, such as poverty, abuse, and
mental and physical disabilities.
When Spungen met the center’s staff, he
was impressed. "Their commitment and confidence in what they
were doing was very clear," he says. The organization, which
started as a community group in 1953, now helps 18,000 children
a year. Spungen joined the board last March.
Knowing he could make the biggest difference by bringing in
new funders, Spungen joined the finance committee, and he holds
monthly meetings at Hillview’s Manhattan office.
While right now the majority of funding comes from government
sources, the group is looking to the private sector to make up
potential shortfalls due to government cutbacks, and for more
funding for growth and demand for their programs. Accordingly,
this April the Child Center of NY is holding its first annual
gala event outside of Queens. They’ve chosen
Guastavino’s in Manhattan, nestled under the Ed
Koch Queensboro Bridge — symbolic, says Spungen, of
the group’s connection to New York’s
Richard Jay, president of the Child Center of
NY’s board, calls Spungen a phenomenal board
member. "He understands the responsibilities of a board member,
and he loves doing it," says Jay.
For Spungen, it’s imperative that the
organization meet the growing demand for its programs. "The
professionals at the Child Center of NY are so committed, and
they’re providing services in some of the most
difficult neighborhoods," he explains. "They say, 'Look, if we
don’t provide these services, no one else
will.’ " AR