Helping Third Graders, CetraRuddy Sees Bright Future

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Seeing in New York City’s third-grade students a glimpse of America’s future leaders, CetraRuddy continues in its eighth year of supporting PENCIL Partnership, a national leader in innovative collaborations between businesses and schools.

A few days ago, that meant inviting 50 students from the Bronx to CetraRuddy’s Soho studio for a day of activity-based lessons about design, architecture and the world around us.

“We are greatly committed to public education and helping children less fortunate than our own, in getting a good start against difficult odds in their homes and communities,” says Nancy Ruddy, founding principal of CetraRuddy. “Our firm has adopted Community School 300 in the Bronx, to assist an amazing young principal, Vanessa Singleton, to turn around a formerly failing elementary school. She had made great strides before we got involved.”

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Also known as the The School of Science and Applied Learning, the school serves students from pre-K through fifth grade. As Ruddy recalls, “Vanessa asked that we develop a program for third-graders, children who are at an age when there’s a dramatic fork in the road as far as the lives they choose to lead.”

Along with architect Theresa Genovese, AIA, a principal at CetraRuddy, the firm developed a new PENCIL course about bridges. “The project-based learning class was designed to be fun and world-expanding, to show the children that there are many exciting opportunities in life,” says Genovese, who is currently designing three K-12 schools in India. “Building a model bridge, and seeing examples from around the world, offers them new experiences as it develops teamwork, math and science skills.”

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This isn’t CetraRuddy’s only pro-bono or charitable effort. The firm is also donating a portion of its services to The Choice School, a nonprofit K-12 educational provider that commissioned the firm to design two new schools for up to 2,500 students each. Ruddy is also leading a U.S. board to restore the Painted Hall in London’s Old Royal Naval College, for which the firm made a sizable monetary donation. The firm also supports a traveling fellowship program, and remains an outspoken advocate for affordable housing as well as food drives through groups like City Harvest.