Learning to Lead

May 17, 2013

Image courtesy of Coro New York

Last week, as we near the halfway point of an important election year, we asked you what you’re looking for in a new leader for Brooklyn in 2014. This week, we want you to think about Brooklyn in 2050.

While the borough’s skyline will surely be different, and we may have a few more professional sports teams to cheer on, much of the changes are hard to predict.

One certainty: by that time, today’s high school and college students will be occupying the highest public offices and heading our civic institutions.

While 2050 seems a long way away, we have the opportunity now to shape that world by preparing young women and men from across Brooklyn to become leaders to ensure our borough’s strengths live on well into the next century.

Brooklyn Community Foundation’s investment in youth leadership development extends through dozens of afterschool and in-school programs, as well as those that work with student alumni through their college years. The results of their efforts are remarkable: impressive, articulate young people already taking the lead in their communities.

Forming Leaders, Informing Policy

Coro New York’s Exploring Leadership works with high school students over the course of the school year to make them civic leaders in their school communities and beyond. Through the lens of education policy, students learn how the City addresses social problems and how they can craft solutions.

This year, the program’s Brooklyn Youth Advisory Council (pictured above) took on the issue of co-location, and spent the fall semester gathering perspectives and experiences of fellow students attending schools at four co-located campuses. They presented their findings and recommendations for policy changes at Borough Hall in February to representatives from the DOE, school officials, and other stakeholders.

In response, the DOE has asked eight schools citywide to pilot initiatives to include youth voices on campus issues with the hope that recommendations can be more systematically incorporated into practices.

Learning from Brooklyn’s Best   

Increasingly, college students’ experiences outside the lecture halls affect their post-graduation career choices. Yet most highly coveted internships, especially those in public service, require students to work during summers when they might otherwise have paying jobs. Through the Foundation’s Hope Reichbach Fund, ambitious area students have the chance to intern for outstanding Brooklyn-based nonprofits while receiving a much-needed stipend.

Last month, five new Hope Reichbach Fund interns were announced following the hugely successful Run For Hope 5K in Prospect Park to raise support for the program. The interns (pictured above, left to right) are Nana Serwah Amponsah of Mount Holyoke College, Janelle Anderson of Buffalo State College, Claire Margaret Beltran of Middlebury College, Natasha Pena of Swarthmore College, and Shirley Urena of Barnard College.

They will be matched with positions at nonprofits this month, and spend the summer working as advocates, meeting with local leaders, and attending career development workshops.

“For a first internship, I can say that what I learned and took from the program will be valuable for the rest of my life.” 

– 2012 Hope Reichbach Intern Nia Gumbs, who worked at The HOPE Program,
a job readiness nonprofit in Downtown Brooklyn


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