It takes a village and that village begins with us

Senator Jesse Hamilton | 6/14/2018, 11:25 a.m.
Two years ago, the Brownsville community joined with me to found The Campus.
Sen. Jesse Hamilton NYS Senate

Two years ago, the Brownsville community joined with me to found The Campus. We committed to creating an in-school and after-school program that provided Campus students with opportunities such as coding classes, mentorship, field trips to cultural institutions and sporting events and much more. We made that commitment to our youth with the assistance of Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, who provided a $500,000 founding grant, Assemblywoman Latrice Walker, who helped secure $125,000 in funding, colleagues, state and city agencies, community-based organizations and neighborhood residents.

At launch, we had more than 50 organizations that committed to volunteer their services to youth in our community. With a particular focus on neighborhood youth ages 12 to 18, Campus programs include a Technology, Coding and App Development Track; a Career Development and Entrepreneurship Track; a Health and Wellness Track; a Violence Prevention Track; and a Cultural, Media and Performing Arts Track. In sum, we founded the first technology and wellness center at a public housing site in the United States with a vision to serve students who have for far too long been underserved.

Two years later, we will celebrate the second Campus graduation this June. We celebrate the Campus expanding from two schools to eight schools. We celebrate expanding from Brownsville to Crown Heights, and we look forward to expansion further still to Sunset Park. We celebrate the presentations to Campus students by luminaries such as Dr. Sampson Davis, emergency room physician and best-selling author of “The Pact,” Dr. Anna-Maria Rivas McGowan, NASA Langley’s senior engineer for Complex Systems Design, and so many more who shared their experience overcoming obstacles and pursuing great careers with our young people.

We celebrate the students who learned meditation, a valuable addition to recognizing the importance of social and emotional learning that will serve them for the rest of their lives. We celebrate students exploring visual arts, literary arts and performing arts through programs in spoken-word poetry, photography, videography, trips to MoMA and Carnegie Hall and more through the Campus. We celebrate Brownsville elementary school students gaining the most advanced 3D printers in the country. We celebrate students learning about coding, engineering, computer science and cutting edge technology, by participating in Tech Challenges and Hackathons.

This 2018 Campus graduation marks yet another milestone in an initiative that has benefited from the tireless work of parents, educators, volunteers and Campus students. The Campus began in the most difficult circumstances imaginable, with Campus leaders witnessing the shooting death of Rysheen Ervin Sept. 21, 2016. That traumatic September afternoon only served to reinforce the commitment of Campus partners to pour their all into making this initiative succeed. We who gathered that day to help launch the Campus will never forget the challenges the Campus addresses and the violent loss of a young man from the Brownsville community before our eyes. The Campus speaks to a real need, and I am grateful to have committed partners who persevered and have seen this groundbreaking initiative through to two years of remarkable success.

Since 2016, the Campus has grown to be a true “community within a community.” Thanks to these efforts, we celebrate more than 500 students participating in our Campus graduation celebration this year.

To learn how you can join in supporting the Campus, please contact my office at 718-284-4700. Again, it takes a village and that village begins with us.