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 experts and central players in making decisions around supporting youth-centered and youth-led projects.
A Youth-led Grantmaking Process
Each year we welcome a new cohort young people with a strong interest in civil service and social justice to our Brooklyn Youth Fellowship. Over a 10 month period, Fellows participate in trainings, strategic planning discussions for the Foundation, and design their own youth-led grantmaking process called the Youth Voice Awards.
In fall 2016, we welcomed 12 outstanding young people nominated by youth-serving nonprofits from across Brooklyn to our second fellowship cohort. Inspired by widespread civic action in the wake of the 2016 Presidential Election, the Fellows not only produced the Youth Voice Awards grantmaking program, but also traveled to DC to advocate for immigrant rights and shortly thereafter designed and facilitated a Youth Resistance Conference to engage other youth in taking on civil rights and social justice issues.
Several exciting project ideas emerged from that conference, many of which went on to be funded the Youth Voice Awards process. Grant decisions were made entirely by Fellows, and represent the vast potential of young people in our communities to create solutions to the challenges they face in their own lives.
Youth Voice Awards
The Youth Voice Awards celebrates outstanding youth-led projects selected for funding by the Foundation's Brooklyn Youth Fellows. The Youth Voice Awards is a youth-led and youth-designed grantmaking process that supports projects submitted by young people in partnership with local nonprofits. Projects are designed to address the Fellows' seven justice pillars: LGBTQ Justice, Economic and Housing Justice, Public Health and Reproductive Justice, Food and Environmental Justice, Immigrant Justice, Education Justice, and Racial and Gender Justice.
The 2017 Youth Voice Awards receipients are:
- KELCY HERCULES for “BLOSSOM, BE YOU!” with Crown Heights Mediation Center: A 10-week summer program for young women focused on self-love and sisterhood
- JESSENIA GUAPISACA AND JAZMIN PEREZ for “WALL OF HOPE: Tu vales, You can!” with Atlas DIY: A 5-week political education program for immigrant and undocumented youth
- SUSAN OBATOLA, TONI-ANN ADRIAN, JADA ATHERLEY, BREANNA TONEY, ZENZELE FRANKLIN, and SYDNI SNAGGS for “NO EYE CANDY” with YWCA: An interactive and inclusive community discussion on street harassment
- NYIESHA MALLETT for “REAL ROOTS” with UPROSE: Youth-led workshops on natural skincare and beauty that incorporates indigenous teachings
- LOREN CAHILL for “HEALING JUSTICE MOVEMENT” with H.O.L.L.A: A 5-borough tour starting in Brooklyn featuring youth-led trainings and workshops that focus on healing injustice, oppression, and violence
- ESRAA SALEH for “NORTH AFRICAN RADICAL EDUCATION PROJECT” with YWCA: Workshops for Arab/North African youth focusing on embracing their identities and understanding their connectedness to the Movement for Black Lives
- SHAHANA ABDIN for “OUR VOICE - Bangladeshi in Brooklyn” with Bangladeshi American Community Development & Youth Services: Production of a video that features young Bangladeshi women navigating their cultural identities and agency
- OLUWADEMILADE OGUNLADE, XAVIER PHIFER, MELANIE GARO for “PROJECT LOVE” with Osborne Foundation: Workshops and peer support groups for young people with incarcerated parents
Youth Voice Awards Selection Criteria
Brooklyn Youth Fellows reviewed and evaluated projects using the following criteria:
- Fit into one or more of the justice pillars
- 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.