Youth Mobilizing for Youth

“My summer matters”: a sign held by a NYC teen in Albany for Youth Action Day.


At 5am on a frosty winter morning, Red Hook Initiative’s (RHI) Youth Organizers boarded a bus bound for Albany. Despite the season, they were already thinking abo

ut summer jobs, and wanted their elected officials to do the same. Knowing firsthand what was at stake, the Youth Organizers urged their local representatives to allocate additional funding for the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). Thanks to a city-wide effort coordinated by United Neighborhood Houses, RHI Youth Organizers joined hundreds of NYC teens in Albany for Youth Action Day. 

Each summer, with support from RHI staff, dozens of youth submit competitive applications for summer jobs paid for by the city-wide SYEP program. Before heading to Albany, Leslie – an RHI participant since middle school – considered how best to convey the importance of increasing funding for the program. Leslie pointed out that, “SYEP gives youth early job experience, responsibilities, and a chance to be independent and not reliant on their parents.”

By investing in Leslie and hundreds of Red Hook youth like her as early as middle school, RHI is able to provide critical academic support, leadership development, and employment opportunities. With RHI’s help, youth like Leslie are empowered to mobilize and advocate for their futures. 

Clint’s First Stop


Clint registered to vote at RHI as soon as he was eligible.

As soon as he heard the results, Clint came straight to Red Hook Initiative (RHI) to share the news: after months of hard work, he had earned his High School Equivalency diploma (formerly known as GED). For over a decade, Clint has relied on RHI as an outlet for academic assistance, job preparation, and emotional support. He excelled as one of the first members of RHI’s Youth Leaders Program in high school, found employment at IKEA through the Young Adult Program, and honed media and tech skills as a Digital Steward. In reflecting on Clint‘s recent achievement, Meghan Ryan, RHI’s Young Adult Program Manager, proudly credited Clint‘s “persistence and commitment, even when things got hard.”

91% of RHI’s High School Youth Leaders graduate or are on track to graduate high school. In 2017, RHI will empower youth, organize residents, and invest in the Red Hook community. Our work will impact the lives of over 5,000 residents, like Clint, who confront barriers at every turn.

Data Compiled by Red Hook Initiative Shows Rampant Mold Problem in Brooklyn’s Largest Public Housing Development, Linked to Lasting Health Problems for Residents

moldreportimageforsmAs the 4 year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy approaches, we are shifting our focus to a long standing issue highlighted by the storm, the impact of mold on public housing residents in Red Hook. While Sandy brought to light mold problems in deteriorating NYCHA buildings, exposure to mold and its harmful effect on health have plagued residents in Red Hook Houses for years. We are calling for immediate and long term solutions.

With the support of resident led research and conversations with nearly 150 community members attending input sessions, we’ve released a report today entitled: The Impact of Mold on Red Hook NYCHA Tenants: A Health Crisis in Public Housing. Read our Press Release here.