YBNers as Storytellers

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How do you use storytelling to drive social change? This year YBN students and graduates learned just how as part of Rutgers University-Newark’s (RUN’s) newly launched Urban Civic Initiative (UCI) course. Along with RUN students, they discovered how to use personal storytelling as a vehicle for better understanding social equity and cohesion.

The UCI “My Story” Project is an education-based experimental collaboration between YBN, the RUN Department of Arts, Culture and Media, and the Poland-based Borderland Foundation. The course culminates with a performance by RUN and YBN students.


Graduate Spotlight

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Yuleika, Class of 2012
Many YBN students have multiple co-existing challenges that can make the path to upward mobility difficult. But throughout the program, they regularly demonstrate their resiliency and a steadfast commitment to improving their lives. Yuleika is one such case.

Yuleika entered the foster care system at the age of 13. When she was 17 years old, her daughter was born. Having dropped out of school a few years prior and a new mother, Yuleika decided she had to do something. She decided to apply to YBN after learning about the program through her sister who happened to be a YouthBuild Paterson graduate.

Although she at first found the program difficult, Yuleika remained motivated. “It was hard because I didn’t want to leave my daughter [but she] kept me in the program. I had to set an example for her,” she said.

During her enrollment, Yuleika interned with Newark Community Health Centers without pay or a guarantee of employment. But she persisted. She now works there full-time providing administrative support and plans to start college in the spring to pursue an associate’s degree in nursing.

Although she works full-time, Yuleika has committed to sharing her story with others. She recently spoke with participants of YBN’s Fall 2015 Mental Toughness Orientation, a two-week process that introduces applicants to the YBN program and its expectations. Her simple advice to youth who are facing obstacles that may seem too large to overcome is, “Don’t stop.”


Local Community Mapping Project Enters 2nd Year

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For the second consecutive year, YBN graduates hit the pavement to survey two neighborhoods in Newark’s South and West Wards.

With a focus on Upper and Lower Clinton Hill, and Fairmount, graduates collected information on vacant properties, different housing types, commercial uses, health and safety issues, illegal dumping, and other conditions that impact the quality of life for residents. The community mapping project was developed in coordination with the Strong Healthy Communities Initiative, the South Ward Children’s Alliance, Leaders for Life/South Ward Youth Development Center, and the City of Newark.


New Jersey Communities Forward Train the Trainer Session

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A partner of New Jersey Communities Forward, YBN hosted a full-day training session to prepare community volunteers to facilitate small discussion groups around issues of community policing, police body cameras, the impending consent decree, and other concerns associated with Newark police community engagement. The session was a lead-up to “The Future of Policing: What Does it Mean for Our City?”” an event that brought together more than 100 individuals to discuss effective policies concerning law enforcement issues facing the city of Newark.

Volunteers included Rutgers University-Newark staff and students, retired police officers, the Urban League of Essex County, YBN staff, and the New Jersey Institute of Social Justice. Check out video coverage of the event here.


Introducing ServiceWorks

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This year, YBN welcomed LaRhonda and Jessica, two AmeriCorps VISTA members who are working to design and implement ServiceWorks’ Service Scholar curriculum at YBN and its partner schools.

As Service Scholars, students will have the opportunity to further strengthen their leadership and project management skills, and be challenged to apply them in ways that address community needs through service. Powered by AmeriCorps, the Citi Foundation and Points of Light, ServiceWorks is a national program that offers a service-based approach to helping young adults build 21st century professional and leadership skills in preparation for college and careers.

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An International Exchange of Best Practices

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Representatives from several South Africa-based agencies visited YBN to learn about the agency’s holistic youth development model and best practices around youth engagement.

Individuals from the Department of Public Works, the National Department of Arts and Culture, the National Treasury, and Department of Small Business Planning took a tour of YBN’s program facility, spoke with YBN staff and graduates and toured partner school Newark Leadership Academy. This is the fourth international group YBN has hosted – we have previously hosted YouthBuild Israel, YouthBuild South Africa, and YouthBuild Brazil.

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YBN Co-Hosts LEAD Charter School Open House

Youth Opportunity Fund Partnership

Community stakeholders gathered at YBN to learn about the proposed LEAD Charter School that will serve as an additional option for comprehensively preparing Newark youth for college and careers.

The mission of LEAD Charter School is to help students ages 16-20 in grades 9-12 master the essential skills crucial for success in postsecondary education, career, and community leadership within a global society. LEAD Charter School has been approved by the New Jersey Department of Education to move to Phase II of the charter school application process.

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