Rashid is 1 of 61 College Scholars receiving year round support.

Five summers ago, Rashid signed up for Red Hook Initiative’s (RHI) Middle School program. Since that summer, when Rashid was 12, he has participated in RHI’s programs year round. Like hundreds of youth from Red Hook working toward a high school diploma, Rashid has taken home a bi-weekly paycheck from RHI for the past four years as a Youth Leader. Rashid utilized mediation skills as a Peer Counselor, provided nourishing food for his peers as a Teen Chef, and used his writing skills to highlight issues of importance for Red Hook youth through a publication, “Zine.”

Graduating high school was not always a guarantee for Rashid, who relied on RHI for academic and social support every day after school. This summer, Rashid worked with RHI staff as a Program Assistant, to keep high school youth on track towards their academic and personal goals. 120 high school and young adult participants found employment through RHI this summer, and Rashid helped make this possible. Next week, he will head off to SUNY Plattsburgh, beginning his freshman year as a first-generation college student. Rashid says, “RHI opened so many doors for me.” While he packs for college, Rashid took a moment to share advice for the RHI Youth Leaders who will follow in his tracks.

Rashid Youth Leader advice


Last weekend, Red Hook Initiative’s (RHI) Middle School Program took home First Place in the Youth Council category of the Game Changers Youth Leadership Project, a contest of the NYC Department of Youth & Community Development/ SONYC. Their short film submission, Watchers of Red Hook, focuses on ways to “bridge the gap between Red Hook youth and community police.” Directed, filmed and edited by RHI middle school participants, the video represents just the beginning of a youth-led effort to improve communication and develop peaceful interactions with local NYPD.


The Watchers of Red Hook stood out among hundreds of submissions from the five boroughs and made it to the final round with fourteen other community-based organizations. By empowering RHI youth from an early age with the knowledge that community change is possible, middle school participants were able to engage with local police in an open dialog about improving relations with Red Hook residents. “This matters to me,” said a sixth-grader, referring to community relations with law enforcement. This message resonated with viewers and competition judges.

The Watchers of Red Hook embodies the first of many opportunities for RHI youth to take ownership of their own future and of Red Hook’s. On July 30, RHI participants will host a community-wide basketball game where youth and local police play on mixed teams. Come cheer for RHI youth!

“I don’t want my older brother to get hurt.” – RHI Middle School participant on why she believes the Watchers of Red Hook is important. 

His First Job Out of College

Tyshame Reid is about to start his first full-time job next month. With support from Red Hook Initiative’s (RHI’s) Young Adult program, Tyshame secured a position as a Credit Analyst at the New York Business Development Corporation (NYBDC), a longtime supporter of RHI. Eight years ago, when Tyshame was in ninth grade, he took home his first paycheck from RHI. As a high school participant, Tyshame got what he calls “a second chance” by taking on a number of different jobs at RHI after school, including Office Assistant, Peer Health Educator, Teen Chef Facilitator, and Radio Intern. The support he received year-round at RHI from an early age enabled Tyshame to graduate college at the same time he aged out of foster care.

tyshame and gregg

RHI Board President, Gregg Bishop, with Tyshame

RHI facilitates professional opportunities with wrap-around support for hundreds of young people like Tyshame. This summer, RHI will employ 120 youth through placements and internships both at RHI and with local businesses. Employment opportunities allow youth to build skills and experience, earn a steady paycheck, develop a positive work ethic and improve their community. On the brink of his new role, Tyshame reflects, “I’m thankful that there’s a place like RHI that was able to give me a job and support me over the years.”