(New York, NY – 10/14/2020)—Across New York, young people are raising their voices on issues such as racial justice, rights for immigrants, and gender equality. To bolster this emerging generation of advocates and activists, The New York Community Trust has recently made 11 grants totaling $1,644,000 to organizations providing young people with the tools and training they need to become leaders in the struggle for justice.
From the “March for Our Lives” that students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School organized in the wake of a mass shooting in Florida to the global youth climate strikes—young people have been making it clear that they are ready and able to advocate for their interests. More recently, the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black Americans has set off renewed calls for social justice here in New York and nationally.
Against this backdrop, The New York Community Trust has made the following set of grants, several of which will involve young people in conversations with elected officials and provide them with opportunities to participate directly in public policy debates. Others will teach youth to use theater, podcasts, social media, and other tools to draw attention to causes they care about, such as college access and school discipline reform.
Many of the grants are specifically focused on addressing gender-based discrimination and promoting gender equity—giving young women crucial opportunities to make their voices heard. Their leadership and advocacy will reach thousands more of the city’s young people.
“In recent years, there has been a tremendous surge of youth activism. We have seen first-hand that young people have the ability and the will to effect change across a wide range of important issues,” said Leigh Ross, a New York Community Trust program officer. “These grants will forward this momentum—while helping young people build important skills like leadership, collaboration, and public speaking.”
“We use theater and performing arts techniques to help participants build their leadership muscle and explore their personal stories and guide them in harnessing their innate talent as advocates for change,” says Chiwoniso Kaitano, executive director of Girl Be Heard. “The girls and young women who join our program are able to make positive decisions in their own lives and leverage those same skills to make a deep impact in their communities and beyond.”
Alliance of Families for Justice: $180,000 to develop a leadership program that will engage formerly incarcerated young people so they can learn about the socioeconomic context of incarceration, while preparing them to advocate for criminal justice reform.
Adhikaar: $120,000 to promote political advocacy among young girls and women in the Tibetan and Nepali communities of Queens. A full-time organizer will be hired to facilitate advocacy efforts, and workshops on gender equity will be held over the next two years.
Arab-American Family Support Center: $140,000 to engage with Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian girls in Queens. Over two years, various workshops will be offered to participants, including on community and campaign organizing.
The Brotherhood/Sister Sol: $180,000 for the organization’s Liberation Program, which invests in Black and Latinx students so they can learn leadership skills to advocate for a more equitable community.
Center for Anti-Violence Education: $124,000 to continue and refine the group’s Peer Educator program so teenage girls can learn about advocacy, the political process, public speaking, and self-defense. An emphasis will be placed on learning about discrimination against people of color, particularly Black people and immigrants.
Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York: $140,000 for the expansion of YouthAction NYC, a youth organizing and leadership program. It will teach 100 young people to engage with elected officials on issues they care about. The group also will enlist 25 participants to become peer trainers, who will lead advocacy workshops for youth groups.
Flanbwayan Haitian Literacy Project: $120,000 to work with Haitian immigrant girls to advocate for increasing access to college. The organization will train the girls in community engagement, conflict resolution, and the college application process so they can work with government and families to raise awareness about the need for higher education.
Girl Be Heard Institute: $140,000 over two years to double the size of a program for teenage girls that combines theater and social activism to develop original theatrical works focused on social justice issues.
Girls for Gender Equity: $140,000 to help teenage girls advocate for policy changes regarding gender equity as city leadership changes after next year’s municipal election. Participants will organize town halls, develop a policy agenda based on what is discussed at those forums, and share their findings with political candidates and elected officials.
New York State Youth Leadership Council: $180,000 to strengthen campus-based advocacy teams led by young, undocumented immigrants.
Red Hook Initiative: $180,000 to expand their Anti-Violence Project, which trains young people in geographically isolated Red Hook to organize and advocate for social reform, including efforts to curb violence and rebuild a sense of community.
About The New York Community Trust
The New York Community Trust connects past, present, and future generous New Yorkers with vital nonprofits working to make a healthy, equitable, and thriving community for all. It is a public grantmaking foundation dedicated to improving the lives of residents of New York City, Westchester, and Long Island. For more information, visit nycommunitytrust.org.