Putting Children First

February 01, 2012  

David Spungen’s financial know-how — and fatherly instincts — help the Child Center of NY.

By Danielle Beurteaux

David Spungen: Their commitment and confidence in what they were doing was very clear.

  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."

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 boroughs.

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

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