The lobby of the Red Hook Initiative Center teems with energy on a sunny afternoon in early September. It is the first day of school. A huddle of girls discusses the day as each fills out a time sheet, putting her name beside the title of health educator.
More than 2,000 people a year walk through RHI’s door. The community center offers help ranging from food stamps to job advice. But the organization specializes in youth programs. RHI has spent a decade shaping its program that helps youth move from middle school toward college or a job in a neighborhood where half of residents live below the poverty line.
RHI’s program addresses each facet of their life from health and mental well-being to math skills and resume writing. About 200 young people between the ages of 10 and 24—most of whom reside in the Red Hook Houses, the largest housing proj