Summer Program Empowers Washington Heights and Inwood Youth

Bashar Makhay
September 15, 2020

This summer, the Office of Government and Community Affairs’ (GCA) Connecting Youth Initiative (CYI) had the pleasure of participating in the Uptown Hub’s Learn-Try-Apply (LTA) Summer 2020 program. The eight-week internship program was a mostly virtual experience for over 200 young participants. The program’s main objectives were to improve the local economy by providing a paid workforce development opportunity for youth and to improve the health and well-being of local young adults through social-emotional support and civic engagement.

In late June and for the duration of the program, Henry Danner, GCA’s director of Youth Initiatives and CYI’s lead facilitator, partnered with Uptown Hub leadership staff to design and facilitate LTA’s leadership “track.” This section of LTA worked with a group of young adults employed as “youth captains," a group of 18-24 year olds tasked with the supervision and development of the younger interns participating in other predetermined “squads.” Danner also participated in a social justice working group brought together to ensure that the program activities addressed the various ways leadership relates to advocacy and community development.

During the eight weeks of the LTA program, the youth captains participated in CYI’s signature soft skills workshop series and additional leadership skill development sessions, covering topics such as active listening, constructive feedback, collaborative negotiation and emotional regulation. The participants also engaged in thought provoking training focused on racism and implicit bias. By the end of week eight, the youth captains were sad to see the program come to an end. "Working with the youth participants in the Uptown Hub's LTA program was an enjoyable experience," said Danner. "Participants and staff came to the program ready to learn and work towards becoming better versions of themselves."

The Uptown Hub is a collaborative project of New York Presbyterian and Columbia University Irving Medical Center funded by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office's Criminal Justice Investment Initiative (CJII). The grant provided through CJII allowed NYP and CUIMC to establish a Youth Opportunities Hub in Washington Heights/Inwood with the goal “to serve over 250 youths aged 14 to 24 years each year who have been or are at risk for involvement with the juvenile or adult judicial systems,” according to NYP.