Over the past month, East Side House has been hard at work in Albany. To hold true to our values, ESH met with elected officials, advocating for the resources that are necessary to provide our communities with the programs and services they depend on to thrive. We teamed up with United Neighborhood Houses (UNH), a convener of thirty-seven settlement house organizations in New York City, of which East Side House is a member.
Youth Action Day
Civic engagement is a theme in all of ESH’s education and youth development programs. On January 25th, young adults from our Smith Young Adult Borough Center (YABC) program joined teens from all over New York State for Youth Action Day, an annual advocacy event that gives young adults a taste of advocacy and lobbying for what they believe in: summer jobs for youth.
Organized by United Neighborhood Houses (UNH), our teens were trained and prepared to give their testimonies before 126 elected officials as to the importance of the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) and why it’s crucial in our communities. For years, UNH has been dedicated to not only preserving the program, but expanding it.
In the Bronx and Upper Manhattan neighborhoods served by ESH, many of our young adults rely on part-time jobs to help support their families. Through opportunities like SYEP, students are able to buy textbooks, school clothes, and even put food on the table. In communities like the South Bronx, with one of the highest levels of disconnected youth in the city at 35%, this program is absolutely essential.
The SYEP statewide initiative offers youth 14 to 20 years old— up to age 24 in New York City— the opportunity to earn extra money for six weeks each summer. Young adults are placed in jobs ranging from summer camps at non-profit organizations to city agencies, to illustrate the range of career fields. Not only do they earn a paycheck, they also learn valuable resume-building job skills.
Last year, 60,000 young adults in New York City participated in the program, an unprecedented number, according to UNH. However, an additional 80,000 applied but didn’t gain acceptance. Our teens continue to advocate for their communities so that all of their peers get a chance to participate in this beneficial program.
Lobby Day 2017
At the crack of dawn on February 13th, twenty-seven settlement houses from throughout New York State— twenty-one of them from New York City — convened in Albany to meet with elected officials to advocate for their support. What will this mean for communities like those served by East Side House?
On the table was a list of eighteen priorities, including early childhood education and childcare, funding for senior centers, the Summer Youth Employment program, and adult literacy programming. Communities served by settlement houses are largely low-income, high-need, and predominantly immigrant. Residents of communities like the South Bronx and Upper Manhattan — served by ESH — rely heavily on services provided by settlement houses and other community-based organizations.
Throughout history, settlement houses have played — and continue to play — a huge role in helping low-income New Yorkers move into the economic mainstream. These services are vital to our neighborhoods. They provide families and individuals with safe places for their children to learn and play, healthy food and case management for seniors, employment and educational services to adults seeing work, and much more. State funding allows us to provide these important services to the community so that they may thrive.