What's Ahead for Incubator Project's Youth Advocacy Corps: "We have a lot to do in the next 18 months!"
As the Founder of Youth Advocacy Corps, I feel especially fortunate to have been selected by the Brooklyn Community Foundation to be part of the 2017 Incubator Project. There are so many reasons to be excited about the next 18 months at the Foundation, but, most significantly, we are thrilled to have a home that not only supports our work and programs but also serves as a model of excellence and shares our vision for young people throughout Brooklyn.
Youth Advocacy Corps was founded upon the belief that the power to make change lies in the people living in communities most impacted. And like the Foundation, we focus on empowering youth, which we think is the key to achieving greater equity of opportunity and outcomes in those communities.
Youth are, at their core, promising young leaders, and we treat them as partners, leveraging their insights and experiences and giving them tools to serve others and become role models and leaders.
Founded in 2015, Youth Advocacy Corps’ mission is to build a cohort of young social justice advocates by providing them with learning and service opportunities and supporting them as they develop and build their own social justice campaigns.
The idea grew out of my personal frustration with the systemic, deeply racial and gendered mechanisms through which poverty is perpetuated in New York City, and by the daily reality of poverty I witnessed working as a social justice lawyer. I found that my clients were so often disconnected from vital resources and opportunities, and I was dismayed by the lack of opportunity for youth to be heard, express their opinions, and take part in the effort to effectuate change.
In June of 2015, Youth Advocacy Corps launched its first service program—Youth Advocacy Summer Institute (YASI) —a full-time summer program focusing on health justice. YASI was implemented for a second time in 2016 with a significantly larger corps, and we are now getting excited to launch the third YASI program on July 5, 2017.
Further, just this year, Youth Advocacy Corps launched a new Mental Health Awareness Project (MHAP) in East New York. Conceived of by a 2015 YASI corps member as his individual action project, MHAP is a full-year program that focuses on understanding and addressing the stigma of mental health and works to ensure greater access to mental health care.
We have a lot to do in the next 18 months, and being part of the Foundation’s Incubator Project allows us to focus on the most important aspects of our work–our programs and our corps members.
Now that we have a home and central meeting space, we can work on continuing to grow YASI, MHAP and other projects our corps members develop moving forward.
And on a personal level, working at the Foundation allows me as the Director to focus on meeting our fundraising and operations goals, so that we can hire additional staff and continue to build a stable infrastructure.
Building a nonprofit from scratch brings a fair share of challenges, especially in today’s political climate, and I am incredibly grateful for the many benefits this opportunity brings to us as we forge ahead and help develop the next generation of Brooklyn’s social justice leaders. Thank you Brooklyn Community Foundation!