Get Ready to ROAR: University Settlement and More Than 40 Community Partners Present a Summer Festival

University Settlement is thrilled to announce the return of its summer festival ROAR: Rejoice! Organize! Activate! Reclaim! Taking place every Saturday from July 8th to August 12th 2023, this vibrant event will energize the public spaces in New York City’s Lower East Side and Chinatown with an array of captivating activities, cultural celebrations and free gifts.

ROAR aims to energize public spaces, celebrate AAPI people and culture, and increase connection, well-being, and joy in Chinatown and the LES. With violence and harassment targeting our AAPI neighbors on the rise and after years of isolation, our neighborly connections and spaces need some love and attention. The festival will strengthen the bonds within our neighborhoods and create lasting memories for all attendees.

The festival will run from 11 am – 3 pm every Saturday this summer beginning on July 8th and concluding on August 12th. The north side of Sara D. Roosevelt (SDR) Park – between Rivington and Houston Streets – will serve as the central hub where local residents can find ROAR events.

This year, an impressive lineup of over 40 free community-building programs awaits visitors, with activities and services presented in Cantonese, English, Mandarin, and Spanish. The Stanton Building in SDR Park will be the focal point, featuring diverse cultural performances on the main stage. Surrounding the area, our partners will offer engaging activities for all ages, including workout classes, ballroom dancing, calligraphy workshops, chess competitions, and children’s art workshops. A talented balloon twister artist will be found in the Houston Street playground.

As the festival ramps up, interested community members are invited to learn more about the festival on its website,, which is presented in Traditional Chinese, Spanish, and English, or by stopping by the ROAR Info Booth at the Stanton Street walkway in Sara D Roosevelt Park every Saturday from 11 am – 3 pm. You can scan the QR code at the info booth, take a questionnaire, and spin our prize wheel to win some ROAR swag. Prizes include tote bags, tumblers, sunglasses, keychains, and toy bears.

“The connections ROAR forges between neighbors on the Lower East Side and Chinatown are invaluable to empowering and protecting the community,” said Mark Levine, Manhattan Borough President. “ROAR’s multicultural, multifaceted programming is a visionary, unifying approach to reclaiming and activating local space, and building stronger relationships.”

“We’re looking forward to another summer full of community and connection – and we hope that all our neighbors in Chinatown and the Lower East Side will stop by to join in the fun,” said Melissa Aase, CEO, University Settlement. “Many thanks to our elected officials for their support of ROAR, as well as to all of our community partners, without whom the event couldn’t take place.”

“The Sara D. Roosevelt Park is a vital outdoor space that connects our Lower East Side and Chinatown communities,” said Congressman Dan Goldman. “The ROAR Summer Festival brings incredible resources to underserved communities and celebrates the vibrant people and cultures of both Chinatown and the LES. I am excited to see the return of the festival and appreciate the efforts of University Settlement and our community partners in making this amazing festival series a reality.”

“Our coalition has worked in partnership with leading local community anchor University Settlement since our founding almost forty years ago. CEO Melissa Aase and staff have never failed to offer a vision of a better future and then they back it up with the work to make that happen,” K Webster, President of the Sara D. Roosevelt Park Community Coalition. “With other generous organizations and people here, ROAR will brighten our summer, provide resources, fun, involvement, and a reminder that this public park is our backyard, summer get-away, and public meeting space. We intend an offer of welcome to all while aiming to create a safe haven in this environmental justice area.”

“Houston Street Center is honored to play a key role in this year’s ROAR Festival, through weekly ballroom dance workshops that feature the instructor and students in our Senior HeART program, and a Zumba performance by youth and young adults with developmental disabilities in our EXCEL Program,” said Adam Blackman, Director of Houston Street Center, University Settlement. ”In reclaiming and activating SDR Park, this one-of-a-kind summer festival aligns with Houston Street Center’s mission to provide opportunities for all ages to Organize and Rejoice.”

“The NYPD 5th Precinct Auxiliary Police is delighted to participate in community gatherings and events, offering our dedicated volunteers to ensure the safety and enjoyment of everyone involved,” said David Tam, NYPD Auxiliary Police Inspector.

“The Performance Project at University Settlement is thrilled for the return of the ROAR Festival and the great events it will bring to the Chinatown and Lower East Side communities. We look forward to supporting ROAR and being part of this new summer tradition,” said Emma Rivera, Space and Production Manager, The Performance Project  @ University Settlement.

“The Chinatown Partnership is delighted to welcome another series of fun activities by ROAR and their team members, in these unusual times, it is great to see the community coming together to collaborate and work together as we look forward to celebrating with them this summer,” said Wellington Chen, Executive Director of Chinatown Partnership.

“We are delighted that University Settlement will again organize the ROAR event to engage this diverse community in Chinatown and LES. After a long pause due to the pandemic, our community certainly will benefit from this meaningful event,” said Gabe Mui, Adjutant of American Legion Lt. B. R. Kimlau Chinese Memorial Post 1291.

“University Settlement’s Adult Literacy Program runs free 10-month long English language classes for adult immigrants in New York. We were thrilled to hear that ROAR is back for its second summer because though it’s summer break, we know our students are still in the city looking for new opportunities to practice their English language skills and new ways to connect with nearby communities,” said Lucian Leung, Program Director, Adult Literacy Program, University Settlement. “As a program manager, I am glad ROAR is back because since the pandemic, we haven’t been getting as many walk-in inquiries about our English classes. The fact that this festival is held every Saturday at our nearby park can help us recruit more potential students for our adult English language classes.”

“We are excited to announce that as part of our participation in the ROAR Summer Festival, we will be providing complimentary Chinese learning textbooks at the event. This reflects our commitment to promoting the understanding of Chinese heritage, arts, and culture through Chinese language learning. Our primary objective is to empower the youth by equipping them with the necessary skills to utilize Chinese as a Second Language, thereby expanding their horizons and opportunities,” said Jennifer Wang, Principal, New York Chinese School Principal. “Since its establishment in 1909, the NY Chinese School has remained dedicated to providing Chinese language education to both the local Chinese communities and individuals interested in exploring the Chinese language and culture.”

“Documented is thrilled to participate alongside several local, community-powered peer organizations in ROAR’s celebration of increased belonging across and within communities seeking summer-time joy in LES and Chinatown. Our newsroom helps build empowered and connected immigrant communities here in NYC by providing actionable, community-relevant news and information in our community of readers’ preferred languages and formats, said Mazin Sidahmed, Co-Founder & Co-Executive Director at Documented. “Community correspondents Rommel H. Ojeda, serving Spanish-speaking immigrants, and April Xu, serving Chinese-speaking immigrants, look forward to engaging with and learning from community members at our listening-first photo booth, in addition to sharing Documented’s language-specific resource guides designed to promote self-advocacy and knowledge-building.”

“VNS Chinatown NNORC is the long-term community partner with University Settlement and fully supports ROAR! It is our honor to participate in the meaningful festival on the 2nd year! Let’s work together to make a difference in our community,” said Helen Sit, Manager, Chinatown NNORC.

“The bKind team is honored to join University Settlement for the second year of ROAR as we continue to promote safety and solidarity while celebrating our city’s rich, diverse heritage from which we all draw our resilience, creativity, and beauty, said Lisa Mehos, bKind and Doris Ling-Cohan, bKind bOne initiative.

“Situated in Chinatown, our institute focuses on teaching self-defense techniques while also promoting Chinese Culture and philosophy to the Western community. It brings us great pride to contribute to and perform in the ROAR event organized by University Settlement. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to University Settlement for hosting this significant event, providing the residents of Chinatown and the Lower East Side with a summer filled with joy and lasting memories,” said Tony Chuy, Chief Instructor of Praying Mantis Martial Arts Institute.

“We’re proud to support and be able to participate in the University Settlement ROAR event by providing Lion Dance and Martial Art performance,” said Wing Hong Yip, founder of Dragon Style Kung Fu and Tai Chi Club. “Established in 1974 during the global kung fu craze, Yip’s Dragon Style is dedicated to teaching traditional Chinese martial arts for improved health and self-defense. Our training integrates martial morality, empowering individuals to excel in all aspects of life with integrity.”

“University Settlement is committed to changing the trajectory for people on the Lower East Side and in Chinatown, empowering them and increasing their access to opportunities for success. On behalf of JPMorgan Chase, we are so proud to partner with them, provide financial health workshops and ensure everyone, from youth to senior citizens, has the skills and knowledge to take charge of their lives and achieve their goals,” said Wendy Velazquez, Vice President, Community Manager, Lower East Side, Chase.

“Rendr is honored to join the ROAR Summer Festival hosted by University Settlement. We are the leading primary care-focused, multi-specialty medical group dedicated to providing world-class, value-based healthcare to the underserved Asian community in New York City. Through our participation in this event, we aim to enhance community awareness, understanding and discover better healthcare services by providing valuable health-related resources. We extend our best wishes for the success of this event!” said Cherie Huang, Project Manager, Rendr.

“The NYP Lower Manhattan’s Chinese Community Partnership for Health brings healthcare professionals into Chinese communities in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn to help residents overcome language and cultural barriers and address unmet medical needs.”, said Ada Wong, Program Manager, Chinese Community Partnership for Health (CCPH), NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital. “CCPH is a unique program that has been educating and supporting the Asian American community for over 30 years and we’re happy to participate in this important community event. The purpose of our program is to encourage people of all ages to live a healthy lifestyle, take steps to help prevent and fight chronic disease, and maintain physical and mental health.”

“We are pleased to once again participate in the ROAR Festival this summer.  This festival is a fun, grassroots community effort bringing together the diversity of Chinatown and the Lower East Side.  This year, you’ll see us at the festival with information and activities for people of all ages to promote civic engagement, voting, Asian American Pacific Islander history, and more”, said Mae Lee, Executive Director,  Chinese Progressive Association.

“It is my privilege to be entrusted with the responsibility of orchestrating and organizing this remarkable event by connecting the vibrant communities of Chinatown and the Lower East Side,” said Faye Qiu, Project Manager, University Settlement’s ROAR Festival, “I envision ROAR 2023 as an influential catalyst that will bridge the gap between these two historic neighborhoods, nurturing deeper bonds and cultivating a collective sense of joy among both residents and visitors.”

Neighborhood organizations participating in ROAR include:

  • Alliance for Positive Change
  • Allure Group
  • American Legion, Lt. B. R. Kimlau Chinese Memorial Post 1291
  • Anti-Violence Project
  • Apex for Youth
  • Asian American Federation (AAF)
  • Bilingual Birdies
  • BKind
  • CAIPA (Coalition of Asian-American IPA)
  • CAMS (Chinese American Medical Society)
  • Charles B. Wang Community Health Center
  • Chinatown Partnership
  • Chinese Culture Art Association
  • Chinese Progressive Association
  • Documented
  • EmblemHealth
  • Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Empowerment of Asian Americans
  • FABnyc
  • Goles
  • Happy Music DJ
  • Healthfirst
  • How Our Lives Link All Together (H.O.L.L.A.)
  • Immigrant History Initiative
  • Immigrant Justice Corps
  • Jade Ling Long Dancing Team
  • LANtern® (Lupus Asian Network)
  • LiveOnNY
  • Loisaida Center
  • M’Finda Kalunga Garden
  • Museum of Chinese in America
  • New York Chinese School
  • NYP Lower Manhattan Hospital – Chinese Community Partnership for Health
  • NYPD 5th Precinct
  • New Yorkers for Parks
  • New York-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital – Kress Vision Program
  • New York-Presbyterian Gracie Square Hospital
  • Ninja Ballet
  • NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs
  • Praying Mantis Martial Arts Institute
  • Rendr
  • Public Justice
  • Sara D. Roosevelt Park Community Coalition
  • Send Chinatown Love
  • Stanton Street CSA
  • VNS Health
  • Wing Hong Yip Dragon Style Kung Fu
  • Yellow Whistle
  • YMCA

A full event schedule will be released on July 8th on  Stay tuned and get ready for the fun!

ROAR is funded by the New York State Department of State.

Download a copy of this news release in English

Download a copy of this news release in Chinese

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