Brilla Schools support families and Mott Haven community during COVID-19

Families handing out food at Brilla over the summer. (File)
Photo courtesy of Claudio Reyes, senior director of operations, at Brilla,

Situated in the poorest congressional district in the country, where many undocumented families have not received financial help from the federal government, Mott Haven residents are struggling during the COVID crisis.

Fortunately, Brilla Public Charter Schools in Mott Haven, have rolled up their sleeves and gotten dirty. The school has formed a partnership with Mottley Kitchen at 402 E. 140th St., and are serving children and families across the south Bronx

“We realized our parents need support,” said Claudio Reyes, senior director of operations at Brilla, who lives in the community and has two children in the school system. “We are a family here.”

Reyes said that families are facing unprecedented levels of desperation during these times. While academics are important, the well-being of the children and families comes first, she stressed.

With a current enrollment of approximately 920 students, Brilla has three charter schools in the south Bronx and is opening two additional schools in August.

Volunteers packaging food. Photo courtesy Claudio Reyes, senior director of operations at Brilla

As the charter management organization, Seton Education Partners launched the COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund on March 13. All of the money donated through May 15, will go directly to families experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19.

“For me, it has been a godsend,” Reyes said. “I am constantly inspired by their ability to be grateful for everything and anything that they get. I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve this community.”

Reyes explained that the majority of the families served are working class and lower-income, so she and her colleagues understood the need to give back. While many of these moms and dads are laid off or furloughed, she realized that the glaring question was how will they could get food for their families.

This distress led to the school teaming up with Mottley. Using their network of colleagues, families and friends, the staff began fundraising to secure Mottley grocery boxes for contact free delivery to families.

So far, the effort has raised more than $200,000. Volunteers prepared boxes of food, which can feed a family four meals and in total, more than 200 boxes have been delivered.

“They [the families] are speechless,” Reyes said. “They’re just overjoyed. They don’t know how to express it.

For more information, call Reyes at 929-502-6275 or email [email protected].