Harlem youth learn life lessons through summer internships
CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 8/18/2011, 10:54 a.m.
Last week several elected officials, including Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., City Council Speaker Christine M. Quinn and Council Members Robert Jackson and Inez Dickens, announced a new pilot program to give summer internships to youth in Central Harlem. The elected officials have partnered with Khary Lazarre-White, executive director of the Harlem-based youth organization Brotherhood/Sister Sol.
The Brotherhood/Sister Sol Future Foundation summer program, based at City College, kicked off its six-week program in late July. Forty participating students between the ages of 12 and 16 are participating in educational workshops and tours at some of the city's leading cultural institutions and businesses.
"This program was born out of a desire to engage youth this summer and provide them with unique educational and cultural opportunities," said Vance. "Learning doesn't stop when school is out, and thanks to the generosity of the City Council, these 40 teens and pre-teens are being exposed to some of the best that New York has to offer through a multitude of workshops and educational field trips."
Led by several counselors who are former graduates of the Brotherhood/Sister Sol program themselves, participants take educational and cultural field trips up to three days every week to places like Central Park, El Museo del Barrio and Fordham University.
"The Brotherhood/Sister Sol's Future Foundation summer immersion program builds on 16 years of our youth development model-we are seeking to expose young people to workforce possibilities, culture and higher education; to provide nurturing and holistic mentorship; and to empower youth to define a moral and ethical code by which to live their lives. I appreciate the work of the Manhattan D.A.'s office and City Council in facilitating this program."
When not out in the community, the students attend workshops at City College on a range of topics, including community building, conflict resolution and spoken word performance. Upon completion of the six-week program, participants will receive a $250 stipend.
"The Bro/Sis Future Foundation program exists to guide children in Harlem and open their eyes to cultural, educational and career possibilities. It is an introduction to the ideals of Bro/Sis: positivity, community, knowledge and future," said program coordinator Frantz Jerome.
Dickens said that the program embraces the young people of Central Harlem and opens numerous doors by exposing them to culture and educational enrichment.
"It is my hope that, through continued collaboration with the D.A.'s office, the City Council, law enforcement, community-based organizations, concerned parents and citizens, we will see the day when we do not lose another precious child to senseless violence," she said.