Brooklyn Youth Fellowship: A Youth-led Grantmaking Program

Brooklyn Community Foundation is committed to supporting the leadership and agency of youth in creating community change. The Brooklyn Youth Fellowship is a youth-led grantmaking program that sees youth as central players in making decisions around supporting youth-centered and youth-led projects. Meet our new 2016-17 Brooklyn Youth Fellows!


Brooklyn Youth Fellowship: The First Year

In the summer of 2015, we welcomed the first 20-member cohort of the Brooklyn Youth Fellowship. Over a 10 month period, Fellows between the ages of 16-24 with a strong interest in civil service and social justice worked with youth-serving nonprofits in Brooklyn. The group as a whole participated in trainings, strategic planning discussions for the Foundation, and youth-led grantmaking.


Youth Voice Awards

Over eight months, the Fellows worked together to create and implement the Youth Voice Awards, soliciting projects from youth who are working in partnership with community organizations. The Fellows chose eight funding areas, including economic and housing justice, racial and gender justice, and public health and reproductive justice. 

The Youth Fellows selected these six projects for funding at a total of $12,500:

  • Brooklyn Free School - "Let's Talk About It! Housing Justice" is aimed at educating and creating a documentary on housing justice and gentrification. The project will engage youth by arranging visits to town hall meetings, reading articles and watching interviews addressing housing, gentrification and justice, as well as opportunities to engage with the Mayor’s office and participate in local shelter events. As part of the project, the youth team will create a documentary and facilitate a workshop for youth on housing rights.
     
  • Sevonna Marie Brown with Ancient Song Doula Services - "Reproductive Renaissance" uses grassroots political philosophy to foster a restorative space for women of color to come together and seek refuge in reproductive justice and education. Black girls and women of color have a history of using their personal spaces—the living room, grandma’s bedroom, the kitchen, the beauty salon, the front porch—as spaces for women-centered empowerment and healing.
     
  • Iyeshima Harris with Eco:StationNY - "Farm to Cafeteria" is a student-led outreach project focusing on healthy eating and self-empowerment that engages students at a place and time they are thinking about food: the lunchroom. The project will use school lunch and culturally relevant food to teach youth how to healthfully and affordably prepare meals they love. Through cooking demos, students will learn how they can combine fresh produce with goods from their supermarket, instilling in them the knowledge, access, and creativity to needed to transcend and redefine what food means in a low-income neighborhood.
     
  • Yamil Torres with the Center for NuLeadership - “Bridging the Healing Gap” will facilitate gatherings that provide space and educate youth who are affiliated with gangs and/or are street involved about how, why, and where gangs originated, explain political and racial history, and principles of what gangs were founded on. The second half of the project will focus on changing the way the larger community views the youth by opening up dialogue with an intergenerational event.
     
  • Shaqur Williams with Off the Page, Inc - "All American Boys" is a show, adapted from the book by the same name, that addresses different points of view between a black teenager and a white teenager in a community and the way police officers approach them. The project brings black and white actors together to work on this production and to talk about the problem facing the black community and how to work together to address it.
     
  • Hasiba Haq with Arts and Democracy - "Sari Project" aims to connect young Bangladeshis with women in the community in an intergenerational exchange of stories using the idea of Saris, a traditional outfit for Bangladeshi women, to explore their immigration stories and their histories. The project will help young immigrants and second-generation youth connect with elders in their society, and help carve an identity for them in a diverse borough.

Each project was awarded a grant of $2,100 for work that will take place over the summer and fall of 2016. 


Justice Pillars

Youth Voice Awards support Brooklyn’s young people working in the following justice pillars, provided here with examples:

  • LGBTQ Justice: Creating a safe space for LGBTQ identified youth at your mosque, church or temple
  • Economic and Housing JusticeCreating a community art project that tells the stories of people living in your neighborhood and the impact gentrification has on them
  • Public Health and Reproductive JusticeHosting a Self-Love or Community Health Fair in your neighborhood where people can learn about ways to take care of themselves and connect to community resources
  • Food and Environmental JusticeStarting a Cooking Club at your school where students learn to make healthy meals and snacks on a budget
  • Immigrant JusticePlanning a film series in your school or community that showcases the voices of undocumented and immigrant youth
  • Education JusticeCreating a big sib/little sib mentoring program where upperclassmen at your high school mentor youth at your local middle school 
  • Racial and Gender JusticePlanning a day of action at your school where all students meet to talk about identity and the impact our identities play in our lives

Selection Criteria

Brooklyn Youth Fellows reviewed and evaluated projects using the following criteria:

  • Fit into one or more of the justice pillars, outlined above
  • Position youth as leaders and decision makers in their own lives
  • Provide opportunities for the growth and development of young people
  • Help young people deepen historical and cultural understanding of their experiences and community issues
  • Engage young people in political education and awareness
  • Help young people build a collective identity as social change agents
  • Have a neighborhood-based and community-driven approach
  • Promote safe(r) spaces for young people to build, create and MAKE CHANGE!

Priority consideration was also given to projects that are led by directly affected youth, youth of color, LGBTQ young people, or immigrant youth.


2015-16 Brooklyn Youth Fellows

ARAB-AMERICAN FAMILY SUPPORT CENTER
 

Isabella Arroyo was born and raised in Brooklyn. She is a rising senior at Khalil Gibran International Academy High School, where you’ll find her playing chess, coding, doing yoga, and practicing Arabic. Isabella spends her free time taking courses through College Now and Baruch STEP Academy, volunteering at the 9/11 Memorial Museum and Plaza, and working on science research papers alongside her mentor. 

Leen Shumman is a Jordanian/Palestinian American with a strong interest in social activism, especially in her community. She has recently found a new way to express her opinions through media, and is working to become a force of change in her environment. She hopes to become a human rights attorney.

 


​BROOKLYN COMMUNITY PRIDE CENTER
 

Dani Cyan was born in Guatemala, but moved to New York City at an early age. Dani is currently a fellow at the Brooklyn Community Pride Center. Dani wishes to give voice to gender nonconforming individuals, and other minorities groups in the queer community. They will attend Hunter College in the fall, and plans on majoring in Film to use the arts as activism for the queer community.

 

Eric Molina is a New York native currently studying Criminal Justice at Bronx Community College. Eric plans to become a juvenile probation officer to help teenagers get on the right track and give them support and opportunities to succeed. Eric is a proud HIV+ male and HIV advocate. He believes everyone's story can help another person

 



CENTER FOR COURT INNOVATION: Brownsville Community Justice Center
 

Raquan (Ray) Graham is a lifelong Brownsville resident. He attends Brownsville Academy and is an aspiring actor. Ray joined the Brownsville Community Justice Center in 2014, and has been Peer Advocate intern working on anti-violence, school engagement, and healthy relationship initiatives. He hopes that the work the Justice Center is doing in Brownsville could inspire youth in other communities to get involved with their communities.



CENTER FOR COURT INNOVATION: Crown Heights Mediation Center
 

Deidra Dunkley attends the High School for Public Service and joined the Crown Heights Mediation Center as a Youth Organizer in 2014. She has designed and led workshops on violence, conflict, trauma and self-care. In addition to her participation with Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets, Deidra has been involved in her school's student government and cheer leading team.

 



CENTER FOR FAMILY LIFE IN SUNSET PARK 
 

Jamie Molina is a 12th grader at the High School of Telecommunication, Art and Technology and has been a Counselor-In-Training for the past year. She became a youth volunteer to gain experience working with children.

 

 

Amber Gonzalez is a 10th grader at Franklin D. Roosevelt High School. Over the past year, she has been a Counselor-in-Training with a focus on dance activities. She loves working in the program because it is an environment where she learns to communicate with children and people her own age.
 

 



CENTER FOR NU LEADERSHIP
 

Alexander Davis was born and raised in Crown Heights, and is an aspiring activist who has experienced firsthand the struggles and impact of the drug war, the foster care system, and the criminal justice system in his community. Alex is a graduate of the Institute for Collaborative Education and is laying the foundation for pursuing college education. He is an avid music lover and cook.

 

Youngmichael (Daryl Mensah-Bonsu) is a dancer, writer, and actor known for his spot-on Michael Jackson impersonations. He has performed the roles of "Lysander" in Mid-Summer Night's Dream and "Bernardo" in West Side Story. He currently works with the nonprofit dance company Full Force and is also enrolled in an Emerging Artist in Residency with Art Start. 



FIVE MYLES

Marline Nkounkou was born in Congo Brazzaville. At 14 she moved to New York to join her mother and her siblings. Marline is a student at the International High School at Prospect Heights, where her favorite classes are English and Science. She speaks French, English, Yoruba and Lari, and interns at Brooklyn Hospital. Marline’s dream for the future is to create a not-for-profit to advocate for women’s and children’s rights in the world, and particularly in Africa.
 



GLOBAL ACTION PROJECT 
 

Jade Ureña is an educator and filmmaker originally from Bushwick. Jade is an alumni of SupaFriends (GAP's LGBTQ media program). For the past five years Jade has worked on various video productions and short films, and is committed to media education and creating counter narratives that reflect underrepresented experiences from marginalized groups.


Hatim Mohamed is a high school senior and native of Sudan, who aspires to counter police brutality and xenophobia through creative media and community organizing. He has been active in GAP’s Youth Breaking Borders program for immigrant youth and Media History Timeline project tracing histories of police abuse and mass surveillance of young people of color.
 



HAITI CULTURAL EXCHANGE
 

Yushabel Lubrun is a recent graduate of Brooklyn College and is interested in public health and the intersection of community and arts on health outcomes. Yushabel will be working to design, implement, conduct outreach, and evaluate community arts programming at HCX.  

 



MAYDAY COMMUNITY SPACE
 

Bianca Perez has deep roots in Bushwick as a resident and activist. She is a member of Mayday's Outreach Committee and volunteers with local groups including Reclaim Bushwick, Brooklyn Solidarity Network, and El Puente. Her work focuses on tenant advocacy and solidarity, anti-gentrification efforts, and educating youth via the arts. 

 

Darian Harley has dedicated the last two years of his life to community organizing and forwarding public policy. At Make the Road NY, he has been active in citywide campaigns around Education and Policing reform. Darian is a member of Communities United for Police Reform, has testified before President Obama's 21st Century Policing Task force, and sits on the Mayoral Leadership Team around School Discipline.



RED HOOK INITIATIVE
 

Manny Strough-Perch is a student at Summit Academy Charter School and has lived in Red Hook for most of his life. He joined Red Hook Initiative in middle school and later became a Youth Leader teaching Peer Health Education to other high school students in the neighborhood. In his spare time, he likes to explore New York City with friends. Manny aspires to be a dermatologist.

 

Quincy Phillips a junior at Summit Academy Charter School in Red Hook. Quincy discovered his passion for politics as a Youth Budget Delegate in Red Hook Participatory Budgeting. He campaigned tirelessly for free Red Hook WIFI and a media room at the local library; his efforts were featured in The New York Times. Quincy has participated in RHI's 'Zine program. In addition to his political aspirations, Quincy is a budding actor.



UNITED COMMUNITY CENTERS
 

Musheerah McCray began working as an East New York Farm’s youth intern at 13. When she was 19, she was recruited by Protecting The East (PTE) to be a youth role model and went on to become a Peer Educator and Junior Health Educator. She has facilitated trainings and represented PTE at health fairs and community events. Musheerah has studied at Borough of Manhattan Community College and is interested in community work, youth services, and education.

Peace Titilawo is an alumna of the East New York Farms! Youth Internship program.  She is currently on track to graduate from Hunter College with a degree in economics and public policy. Peace was hired in 2013 as the Farm Education Assistant and led over 1000 school-aged children as a part of the ENYF Farm Tour series. Peace hopes to build a prominent career in the public sector, addressing issues like youth services and food insecurity in Brooklyn.

ARAB-AMERICAN FAMILY SUPPORT CENTER
 

Isabella Arroyo was born and raised in Brooklyn. She is a rising senior at Khalil Gibran International Academy High School, where you’ll find her playing chess, coding, doing yoga, and practicing Arabic. Isabella spends her free time taking courses through College Now and Baruch STEP Academy, volunteering at the 9/11 Memorial Museum and Plaza, and working on science research papers alongside her mentor. 

Leen Shumman is a Jordanian/Palestinian American with a strong interest in social activism, especially in her community. She has recently found a new way to express her opinions through media, and is working to become a force of change in her environment. She hopes to become a human rights attorney.

 


​BROOKLYN COMMUNITY PRIDE CENTER
 

Dani Cyan was born in Guatemala, but moved to New York City at an early age. Dani is currently a fellow at the Brooklyn Community Pride Center. Dani wishes to give voice to gender nonconforming individuals, and other minorities groups in the queer community. They will attend Hunter College in the fall, and plans on majoring in Film to use the arts as activism for the queer community.

 

Eric Molina is a New York native currently studying Criminal Justice at Bronx Community College. Eric plans to become a juvenile probation officer to help teenagers get on the right track and give them support and opportunities to succeed. Eric is a proud HIV+ male and HIV advocate. He believes everyone's story can help another person

 



CENTER FOR COURT INNOVATION: Brownsville Community Justice Center
 

Raquan (Ray) Graham is a lifelong Brownsville resident. He attends Brownsville Academy and is an aspiring actor. Ray joined the Brownsville Community Justice Center in 2014, and has been Peer Advocate intern working on anti-violence, school engagement, and healthy relationship initiatives. He hopes that the work the Justice Center is doing in Brownsville could inspire youth in other communities to get involved with their communities.



CENTER FOR COURT INNOVATION: Crown Heights Mediation Center
 

Deidra Dunkley attends the High School for Public Service and joined the Crown Heights Mediation Center as a Youth Organizer in 2014. She has designed and led workshops on violence, conflict, trauma and self-care. In addition to her participation with Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets, Deidra has been involved in her school's student government and cheer leading team.

 



CENTER FOR FAMILY LIFE IN SUNSET PARK 
 

Jamie Molina is a 12th grader at the High School of Telecommunication, Art and Technology and has been a Counselor-In-Training for the past year. She became a youth volunteer to gain experience working with children.

 

 

Amber Gonzalez is a 10th grader at Franklin D. Roosevelt High School. Over the past year, she has been a Counselor-in-Training with a focus on dance activities. She loves working in the program because it is an environment where she learns to communicate with children and people her own age.
 

 



CENTER FOR NU LEADERSHIP
 

Alexander Davis was born and raised in Crown Heights, and is an aspiring activist who has experienced firsthand the struggles and impact of the drug war, the foster care system, and the criminal justice system in his community. Alex is a graduate of the Institute for Collaborative Education and is laying the foundation for pursuing college education. He is an avid music lover and cook.

 

Youngmichael (Daryl Mensah-Bonsu) is a dancer, writer, and actor known for his spot-on Michael Jackson impersonations. He has performed the roles of "Lysander" in Mid-Summer Night's Dream and "Bernardo" in West Side Story. He currently works with the nonprofit dance company Full Force and is also enrolled in an Emerging Artist in Residency with Art Start. 



FIVE MYLES

Marline Nkounkou was born in Congo Brazzaville. At 14 she moved to New York to join her mother and her siblings. Marline is a student at the International High School at Prospect Heights, where her favorite classes are English and Science. She speaks French, English, Yoruba and Lari, and interns at Brooklyn Hospital. Marline’s dream for the future is to create a not-for-profit to advocate for women’s and children’s rights in the world, and particularly in Africa.
 



GLOBAL ACTION PROJECT 
 

Jade Ureña is an educator and filmmaker originally from Bushwick. Jade is an alumni of SupaFriends (GAP's LGBTQ media program). For the past five years Jade has worked on various video productions and short films, and is committed to media education and creating counter narratives that reflect underrepresented experiences from marginalized groups.


Hatim Mohamed is a high school senior and native of Sudan, who aspires to counter police brutality and xenophobia through creative media and community organizing. He has been active in GAP’s Youth Breaking Borders program for immigrant youth and Media History Timeline project tracing histories of police abuse and mass surveillance of young people of color.
 



HAITI CULTURAL EXCHANGE
 

Yushabel Lubrun is a recent graduate of Brooklyn College and is interested in public health and the intersection of community and arts on health outcomes. Yushabel will be working to design, implement, conduct outreach, and evaluate community arts programming at HCX.  

 



MAYDAY COMMUNITY SPACE
 

Bianca Perez has deep roots in Bushwick as a resident and activist. She is a member of Mayday's Outreach Committee and volunteers with local groups including Reclaim Bushwick, Brooklyn Solidarity Network, and El Puente. Her work focuses on tenant advocacy and solidarity, anti-gentrification efforts, and educating youth via the arts. 

 

Darian Harley has dedicated the last two years of his life to community organizing and forwarding public policy. At Make the Road NY, he has been active in citywide campaigns around Education and Policing reform. Darian is a member of Communities United for Police Reform, has testified before President Obama's 21st Century Policing Task force, and sits on the Mayoral Leadership Team around School Discipline.



RED HOOK INITIATIVE
 

Manny Strough-Perch is a student at Summit Academy Charter School and has lived in Red Hook for most of his life. He joined Red Hook Initiative in middle school and later became a Youth Leader teaching Peer Health Education to other high school students in the neighborhood. In his spare time, he likes to explore New York City with friends. Manny aspires to be a dermatologist.

 

Quincy Phillips a junior at Summit Academy Charter School in Red Hook. Quincy discovered his passion for politics as a Youth Budget Delegate in Red Hook Participatory Budgeting. He campaigned tirelessly for free Red Hook WIFI and a media room at the local library; his efforts were featured in The New York Times. Quincy has participated in RHI's 'Zine program. In addition to his political aspirations, Quincy is a budding actor.



UNITED COMMUNITY CENTERS
 

Musheerah McCray began working as an East New York Farm’s youth intern at 13. When she was 19, she was recruited by Protecting The East (PTE) to be a youth role model and went on to become a Peer Educator and Junior Health Educator. She has facilitated trainings and represented PTE at health fairs and community events. Musheerah has studied at Borough of Manhattan Community College and is interested in community work, youth services, and education.

Peace Titilawo is an alumna of the East New York Farms! Youth Internship program.  She is currently on track to graduate from Hunter College with a degree in economics and public policy. Peace was hired in 2013 as the Farm Education Assistant and led over 1000 school-aged children as a part of the ENYF Farm Tour series. Peace hopes to build a prominent career in the public sector, addressing issues like youth services and food insecurity in Brooklyn.