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.