For young people in Central Harlem who are on probation, Arches offers a new path to personal, educational, and career success. The program provides curriculum-based group mentoring, which helps youth to transform the attitudes and behaviors that led to their criminal activity. In addition to group and individual mentoring, the program offers interactive journaling, and group cultural, recreational, and social activities. The support and guidance that the program offers gives these youth a chance to further their education, gain employment, end further involvement in the criminal justice system, and succeed as productive citizens.
Club Real Deal is New York City Mission Society’s proven coeducational adolescent pregnancy prevention program. Offered after school hours to teens in Central Harlem, Club Real Deal employs a holistic approach to serving teens’ needs, which includes health care services, family life and sex education, mental health and counseling, self expression and creative arts, sports, education-related services, and employment. Since its inception in 2000, Club Real Deal has served more than 300 participants and boasts a pregnancy prevention rate of nearly 100%. Two-thirds of program participants have enrolled in post-secondary studies.
For families where abuse or neglect endanger children, New York City Mission Society’s Family Preservation Services give parents tools to cope in hard times, the ability to create a safe home environment, and help to prevent children from being placed in foster care. The Beacon Center for Family Services at Wadleigh Secondary School on 114th Street provides support services, including case management, advocacy, and counseling for parents.
In Central Harlem, more than 25% of adult males have been imprisoned at some point in their lives. For these men, returning to the community poses immense challenges, which all too often lead them right back to prison. The Harlem Justice Scholars program seeks to interrupt this cycle by addressing the barriers to successful reintegration—along with the underlying factors that fostered criminal activity in the first place. By providing a range of services that includes education, tutoring, career exploration, job readiness training, employment, mentoring, case management, and civic engagement opportunities, the Harlem Justice Scholars program helps formerly incarcerated young men create a successful and crime-free future.
New York City Department of Education transfer schools offer older, under-credited high school students the last chance they have to graduate from high school. New York City Mission Society’s Learning to Work (LTW) programs at three of these transfer schools in Manhattan and Brooklyn support these students in their studies and prepare them for success in college and the work world. The programs provide four main services: 1) student support, including counseling, workshops, tutoring, and cultural activities; 2) college guidance and preparation; 3) job skills development and career exploration; and 4) supported internships. The programs serve 750 students this year, 250 of whom are in paid internships.
Harlem SNUG: Preventing Gun Violence in Central Harlem
What if gun and gang violence really were an epidemic—and spread like one? And what if its spread could be prevented? That is the premise of Harlem SNUG (“Guns” spelled backwards), a replication of the highly effective CeaseFire Chicago model. Employing street-credible “violence interrupters,” the program seeks to prevent the spread of violence in Central Harlem by persuading those who are most likely to engage in it to find peaceful solutions to conflict. The program has won the support of, and collaborates with, the Central Harlem community, including religious leaders, the police, and the public. Since its inception, the program has mediated more than 50 conflicts that could have resulted in gun violence.
At three elementary schools in Manhattan and the Bronx, and at the Minisink Beacon Community Center in Central Harlem, the Power Academy provides academic support and a range of enrichment activities after school, during the summer, and on school holidays. With a curriculum focused on academic enrichment (including STEM—science, technology, engineering and math), community service, cultural enrichment, the arts, recreation, and character education, the Power Academy reinforces school-day learning in a safe and healthy environment. The Minisink Beacon site provides a range of programs and services for students and the surrounding community. This year, 740 students are participating at our three elementary school sites and 900 at Minisink Beacon.
Special Events: Building Community in Harlem
New York City Mission Society brings together the Harlem community by hosting numerous public events and celebrations at the Minisink Townhouse, including the annual Halloween party, a Thanksgiving Dinner and turkey drive, and the Annual Holiday Toy Drive. Each year, New York City Mission Society sponsors the Harlem Family Health Conference and Fair, which features seminars and health screenings.
The Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) provides gainful work experience, educational workshops, mentoring, and regular workplace monitoring for young adults ages 14-21. For many participants, SYEP provides them with their first job and the first step towards a successful career.
Research shows that when teens engage in service activities along with curriculum-based learning, it fosters critical thinking, personal responsibility, positive attitudes toward school, and increased civic engagement. Teen ACTION, which operates from the Minisink Townhouse in Central Harlem, provides teens with a structured, highly interactive curriculum that explores the complex issues facing the world, along with opportunities to engage in service learning. Participants are supported in reducing risk behaviors, utilizing health services, and developing a commitment to academic achievement. Ultimately, the program seeks to empower young people to view themselves not only as active civic participants but as global citizens.