We're so excited to offer a new opportunity this fall for young people of NYC to get involved with RAP and their communities! We're recruiting six young people to serve as paid policy fellows. The fellows will spend 9 months researching a social justice issue affecting their community and, with the support of RAP, develop a campaign to tackle this issue head on! Sound interesting? Read some thoughts below from Yacine and Angelis, the YouthVoiceNYC interns who helped develop the fellowship, on why this opportunity could be perfect for you!
Yacine Fall, 18, is a recent graduate of the Beacon School in Hell’s Kitchen from Harlem, who is headed to Smith College next week. Yacine was an active participant in RAP’s Youth Leadership Council and also served as an Intern for YouthVoiceNYC 2016-17. While at Beacon School, she also ran her school’s Black Student Union and participated in other social justice clubs. She is passionate about educational and racial equity and wants to use her passions to impact her larger community. Yacine loved her time at RAP, where she felt like she made a positive change with a collective group of motivated students. This Fall, she will be helping design RAP’s alumni advisory council, so that previous RAP participants can build on what they’ve learned and the projects they’ve initiated, together.
Yacine: 2017 has been a year where many people who were never involved in activism or policy felt the urge to change something and make a difference. As teenagers, we find ourselves wanting to be active parts of our communities but never having our voices taken seriously by adults. We turn to our educational institutions and find more barriers like “strict curriculums” that prevent us from having conversations about pressing issues in society. A lot of us stay resigned and say there's nothing we can do, but this fellowship says otherwise. You and a group of students will be granted an amazing opportunity to focus on an issue in your community or society that you want to change, and with the help of the RAP staff, push for that change. This opportunity allows for essential conversations that are deficient in our class rooms to bloom. The staff is very supportive and all resources they and their network have to offer are geared towards your success in the project. This fellowship is unique because it is built on the principle that youth voices should be the most prominent in agendas and our ideas matter. This fellowship gives you an introduction to the process of making a change, the leadership skills needed to do so, and an invaluable support system. The question is, how bad do you want change?
Pictured above: Yacine Fall (left) and Angelis Harvey (right) hard at work in the RAP office!
Angelis Harvey, 17, is a rising senior at NYC iSchool in SoHo, from East New York. She moved to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic when she was nine years old and has been living in New York City ever since. She’s just finished her second year with RAP as both YLC member and YouthVoiceNYC intern. She has a very strong desire to see her community aspire to do great things and puts her determination, hard work and skills toward helping them. Angelis has been a huge force behind the design of the Youth Policy Fellowship, helping RAP staff evaluate what youth needs the program must fill to be successful.
Angelis: Adolescence is the time where people start to discover who they are and it is also the time where lots of changes take place physically and mentally. This is also the time where people start to come to terms with their political identity, and having a safe space where they can learn about different tools at their disposal that they can use to push for change is very important. In addition, teenagers and youth in general are often invalidated and are often pushed to the side when decisions that also affect us are being made. I think a space like RAP and this fellowship opportunity is a way in which students can really learn necessary skills like leadership skills that they do not learn in a traditional classroom setting that help them thrive in the world after their school years. This fellowship gives young people the autonomy that they do not typically get when working on issues that they feel very passionate about. The staff will guide you and give you the necessary tools that have helped them when they have worked on projects that are meant to push for social change. This fellowship is unique and more teens and young adults should know about it because it actually values the voice and ideas of young people instead of pushing us to the side and saying that our ideas do not matter while at the same time taking credit for an entire project/campaign. Often times we are told that we are the future of this society and as such we should be politically active, yet when we go out and do activist work and actually research on issues like racism and education inequity, we are told that what we are doing is wrong. This is a safe space where research and taking action on what we feel passionate about is celebrated and encouraged.