Maria Santana, Coordinator of After School and Summer Camp Programs at New Settlement Apartments in the Bronx, has devoted the last eight years to running, revitalizing and expanding their after school program. She has designed and successfully attracted parents to their many parent workshops, ensured the success of their multi-year arts collaboration (Project V.I.P.) with Children & the Classics on behalf of their adolescent girls, created a model summer internship program with Cornell University, and has been an essential player in the Parent Action Committee, which organizes parents to combat the persistent educational failure that characterizes local schools. Both within and without the organization, Maria finds talented individuals, generates new ideas, and brings resources directly to the youth in the neighborhood. Having lived in the neighborhood (the Mt. Eden section of the Bronx) for many years, Maria believes deeply in giving back to the community and in connecting the community with the very best that New York has to offer. Maria is a wonderful example of how one person, along with talented colleagues, can truly strengthen a community from top to bottom.