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'Let's set these kids up for life'

Words by Smiley Team

Not everyone has the best start in life – and often, this could lead to a downward spiral as they reach their schooling and work years. 

But that's not the case at SoBro, a youth education academy in the Bronx, New York.

Many of the pupils there are from low-income homes and require extra attention in order to realize their full potential – so the academy runs a "learning to work" program. Young people are taught academic, workplace, leadership, and life skills in SoBro's after-school programs through interesting projects.

Topics range from music and video creation to journalism and creative writing to health and wellness, life sciences, the arts, and much more. “One of the things that we are doing is teaching the youth the art of podcasting," says program manager Kyrenn Westry. "We provide hands-on tools and experience to give them exposure in areas that they would not get at home."

SoBro also has a "transformation academy", which is a full-time, education, workforce, and leadership development program for young adults ages 17–24 who have not yet completed high school. There is a secure place for people to come together and get the help they need to alter their lives. 

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It also runs a summer youth employment program, which is paid, and helps young people develop the skills they'll need when they enter the world of work. The program helps with resumes, cover lettersand interviewing techniques. 

"Our participants receive stipends of $700 and $1,000 between the ages of 14–15 and 16–21," explains Kyrenn. "It's a great way for young people to lean on the job skills." They are accepting applications now for the summer program. Applicants must be between the ages of 14 and 24, as well as New York City residents who are authorized to work in the United States.

Kyrenn says about the Youth Education Academy: “I love being a part of something that is bigger than me. I was one of the inner city youth and a program similar to this is what saved my life. If I can help save the life of a young person, then I’ve done my job.”

Inspired to act?

DONATE: Help SoBro continue its mission of providing support to disadvantaged youth by donating.

GET INVOLVED: If you have a young person who could benefit from the program, be sure to visit Youth Education | SoBro.

VOLUNTEER: Find out more about the youth education program and how you can support


This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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