Sapna NYC is an emerging non-profit serving the South Asian immigrant community in New York City. Our organization reflects a unique academic-community partnership. In 2007, Dr. Alison Karasz, a faculty member at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and a clinical psychologist, received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to conduct a needs assessment and design a culturally competent intervention for depression in South Asian women immigrants. Researchers, doctors, psychologists, and community members worked together on the project, which took place in the waiting room of a small local health center in Westchester Square area of the Bronx. We only had room for 16 women on our project. But we had a giant waiting list of more than 40 women—and some of these women sat in the waiting room with us and listened in.
Over the two year project, we heard the same message over and over again from participants, waiting list members, and families—“We need services! We need support! We need a space for women to gather!” So in 2008 Dr. Alison Karasz and colleague Dr. Jean Burg founded the Westchester Square Partnership, aka WSP. Located in the heart of the newly arrived South Asian immigrant community in the Bronx, WSP was only local NGO serving this high need group.
And that hasn’t changed. Our organization provides services, fosters economic empowerment, and serves as a laboratory for the development of culturally appropriate health interventions. As we grew, we started serving other communities around the city using our unique, holistic model that provides support to women, builds social connections, and helps end economic dependence. And as we grew, our vision grew with us—to help South Asian immigrant women fulfill their dreams.
In 2014 WSP changed our name to reflect our new city wide focus and our sharpened vision. Our new name, Sapna NYC, meaning ‘dream’ in many South Asian languages reflects our commitment to our constituents’ core strengths and values, to working with women to help build a future and realize their dreams.
Who We Serve
South Asian immigrants from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are the fastest growing immigrant group in the United States. Low wages, wage theft, overcrowded and substandard housing, low English literacy, and a lack of health care benefits are among the many challenges facing this vibrant new community. Women face special additional challenges. Lacking their accustomed family networks, with few chances to further their education or enter the job market, many immigrant women will never escape the narrow world of home, city block, and corner grocery store. The result is an epidemic of depression and other health problems. About half of the women surveyed report financial difficulties, 90% have low proficiency in English, and 70% are overweight or obese. Additionally, about a quarter report significant depressive symptoms. And these health problems are even bigger among elderly women, many of whom spend decades of their lives isolated in the homes of busy adult children.
Sapna’s Health Programs use state of the art evidence based methods to address depression, obesity, diabetes and cancer prevention, and child health using state of the art strategies. Results from our interventions include:
- ASHA Depression Treatment Program reduces depression by 50%
- APPLE nutrition program reduces body weight by 5.8%
- CHALO child health and nutrition program significantly improves child feeding and oral health
Our Economic programs include:
- business development classes for South Asian immigrant entrepreneurs
- ESOL classes
- Matched Savings program
- Workers’ Cooperative
- Job training in a commercial kitchen, led by a Michelin-starred chef
- Financial literacy Workshops
- Citizenship, GED & GRE courses