We are pleased to announce that the Foundation has awarded six community-based organizations in New York City $25,000 grants to improve the quality of their youth programs.
The Youth Service Improvement Grants program supports activities to improve the quality of direct services for young people ages 5 to 25 in the five boroughs of New York City. The long-term goal of YSIG is to strengthen existing services by helping youth-serving nonprofit organizations address challenges or remedy problems at the point of service, where staff and youth interact.
Rocking the Boat
Rocking the Boat wants to improve its after-school and summer youth programs, through which it serves primarily African-American, African, and Hispanic young people in the Bronx. Youth participate in one of the organization’s three programs: 1) A boatbuilding program, wherein youth build a boat from scratch; 2) an environmental program, wherein youth learn to study and restore the local river; or 3) a sailing program, wherein youth learn to captain and sail a boat. Rocking the Boat hires program alumni to serve as part-time program assistants who help program directors teach students in the three main programs. These assistants have technical knowledge, but Rocking the Boat’s services would be improved if they were to develop stronger leadership skills and greater familiarity with youth development principles and relevant teaching techniques. Toward these ends, Rocking the Boat proposes to work with external experts to revise the training curriculum for the program assistants and program directors and to increase the duration of the training periods.
Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI) wants to improve its LGBTQ youth services, which include mental and physical healthcare, academic enrichment, job readiness training, emergency, and basic needs services. Most participants have access to the full array of services, free of charge, and they are supported by case managers, counselors, crisis intervention staff and trainers. Recently, HMI has seen an increase in younger people (ages 13-15) accessing its services, whereas they have traditionally served youth in the 18-21 age range. HMI believes that LGBTQ young people are coming out at a younger age due to increased national social and political inclusivity, but their current services do not adequately address the developmental stages and needs of younger teens. Considering this, HMI proposes to redesign its youth service curriculum to include and meet the needs of LGBTQ youth ages 13-15. They also propose creating a tracking system to ensure that youth attend all their services and put into place adequate and appropriate plans for the future. Finally, HMI will train staff to carry out the curriculum and create an annualized on-boarding training module for future staff.
New York on Tech
New York on Tech (NYOT) wants to improve its Tech Flex Leaders program, which is a free, nine-month, out-of-school time program for New York City high-school juniors and seniors. The program embeds weekly computer science and technology classes at local companies, offers students mentorships with industry professionals, and provides internships. The Tech Flex Leaders program aligns with NYOT’s mission to create pathways for racial and ethnic minority youth to obtain degrees and careers in computer science and IT. But while program participants gain a high level of proficiency in the technical, engineering, and coding aspects of computer science and IT, they do not currently receive training in important creative and design-centric aspects of computer science. To address this, New York on Tech staff will partner with a consultant to revise program curriculum to include teaching modules and workplans on website and software design applications. Tech Flex Leaders staff will also be trained to implement the enhanced curriculum.
PowerPlay NYC wants to improve its STARS (Sports Training and Role-model for Success) Series after-school program for elementary and middle-school age girls in New York City. Girls participate in 60-90 minutes of sports and 30-45 minutes of formal instruction and discussion, which include topics such as substance abuse avoidance, bullying, body image, and positive study habits. PowerPlay NYC coaches possess backgrounds in physical education, community development, and sports, yet lack the training in youth development and conflict resolution that is necessary to run the non-sports, social-emotional components of the program. PowerPlay proposes to work with several consultants, including UP2US Sports and SPARK, to create a tailored, comprehensive training series to strengthen the abilities of the coaches. The consultants will provide guidance on topics including promoting positive behavior, creating inclusive programs, and understanding triggers and de-escalating conflict.
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center
The LGBT Community Center wants to improve its Center Youth Recovery program, which provides substance use treatment for LGBTQ young people ages 13-25. Youth are assessed and provided with individual and group services, such as counseling, harm reduction, treatment and recovery support, and referrals as needed. While the Center carries out services for LGBTQ young people, it does not have recovery curricula designed specifically for youth. Instead, staff currently adapt adult LGBTQ and youth hetero/cis-normative recovery curricula, but those curricula do not adequately align with LGBTQ youths’ lived experiences. To address this, the Center proposes to collaborate with USC’s Center for LGBT Health Equity to develop a treatment curriculum tailored specifically to the recovery needs of LGBTQ young people.
South Bronx United
South Bronx United (SBU) wants to improve the college preparation component of the SBU Academy. SBU combines recreational and competitive youth soccer with academic enrichment, and youth in the SBU Academy compete on travel soccer teams and participate in a range of academic and socio-emotional programs and services. Services include tutoring for the youngest participants, as well as math and English skills for 10th-graders, SAT preparation for 11th graders, and college mentoring for 12th-graders. Soccer practice is held twice a week and participation in weekend games is tied to academic program attendance. Currently, 91% of SBU graduates enroll in college within one year of graduation, but only 25% earn a bachelor’s degree in four years, and 46% earn the degree in six years. SBU has identified areas for improvement in its high-school programming, which when addressed may better prepare alumni for college persistence and graduation. SBU proposes to develop a New York State Regents-aligned academic college preparatory curriculum and teach it to participants earlier, in grades 8-11. SBU will also partner with qualified ESL tutors to work one-on-one with English Language Learners.