Chinatown Youth Initiatives

Chinatown Youth Initiatives

CYI strives to foster the developmental growth of New York City youth socially and emotionally. In order to fulfill its mission, CYI develops curricula, projects, and other programming with the following three core values in mind: Exploration, Education, and Empowerment.

Chinatown Youth Initiatives

The mission of Chinatown Youth Initiatives (CYI) is to empower New York City youth with the knowledge and skills necessary to address the needs of Chinatown, Asian Americans, and other underrepresented communities. By providing a safe and supportive environment, CYI works to build a legacy of leaders who strengthen awareness of self-identity and community issues through project initiatives. CYI strives to foster the developmental growth of New York City youth socially and emotionally. In order to fulfill its mission, CYI develops curricula, projects, and other programming with the following three core values in mind: Exploration, Education, and Empowerment. Our programs are focused on young Asian-Americans in the greater New York City area. All programs are run entirely by high school or college students, who receive training, budget, and a playbook to manage the program’s day-to-day. Program staff receive guidance from the Board of Directors and college-age or young professional volunteer advisors.

About the Organization:

The mission of Chinatown Youth Initiatives (CYI) is to empower New York City youth with the knowledge and skills necessary to address the needs of Chinatown, Asian Americans, and other underrepresented communities. By providing a safe and supportive environment, CYI works to build a legacy of leaders who strengthen awareness of self-identity and community issues through project initiatives. CYI strives to foster the developmental growth of New York City youth socially and emotionally. In order to fulfill its mission, CYI develops curricula, projects, and other programming with the following three core values in mind: Exploration, Education, and Empowerment. Our programs are focused on young Asian-Americans in the greater New York City area. All programs are run entirely by high school or college students, who receive training, budget, and a playbook to manage the program’s day-to-day. Program staff receive guidance from the Board of Directors and college-age or young professional volunteer advisors.

organizational budget

$0 - $50,000

existence for

21-25 YEARS

Organization benefits AAPIs residing in the following state(s):

California

organizational budget

$0 - $50,000

existence for

21-25 YEARS

Organization benefits AAPIs residing in the following state(s):

California

The Issue:

Currently, Asian American studies is not taught in New York City’s high school curricula. In fact, New York City high school students learn more about China as a distant and ancient civilization than as living, breathing communities living in diasporas around the world. This type of traditional education overlooks and devalues their personal experiences that impact their everyday lives as students of color, such as the model minority myth, immigration, cultural politics, racism, and hate.
Now, more than ever, Asian American youth need the education, exploration, and empowerment that a traditional education does not provide. In addition to the unique stressors of the pandemic, the Asian American community in New York City - and across the country - is now facing a wave of physical, verbal, and emotional racial violence. Young Asian Americans, many who were already becoming more active within social movements, are yearning for the tools to understand this current moment, fight back against hate, and learn their own -- and their community’s -- role in the larger struggle for a more just world. Last summer, before anti-Asian violence made headlines in the New York Times or the Post, SLI received more than 70 applications and was only able to accept 25. The CBD Youth Conference received 400 applicants, twice the normal number, and sustained more than 180 youth participants throughout the day-long conference. New York City’s Asian American youth are clearly hungry for programming that they are not receiving in school.

The Solution:

Chinatown Youth Initiatives (CYI) aims to empower New York City youth with the knowledge and skills necessary to address the changing needs of Chinatowns, Asian American, and underserved communities. CYI works with high school and college students to build their leadership skills to reimagine a world where communities come first.
Three Pillar Programs
  • Summer Leadership Institute (SLI) is our flagship exploration and leadership program. College-aged coordinators and facilitators lead workshops centering around Asian American issues and community building for 40 NYC high school students. SLI coordinators develop a curriculum and safe space for students to discuss issues not typically taught in high school curricula. Students leave the program empowered to effect change in their own communities.
  • Chinatown Literacy Project (CLP) is an adult ESL program founded by SLI alum and run entirely by high school students who organize teachers to instruct adult Chinese-speaking English language learners of varying levels and offer 1:1 English conversation sessions with the learners free of charge. See our work in action, featuring Jennelle Ohene-Agyei, one of this year’s ESL teachers.
Chinatown Beautification Day (CBD) is an annual event, also founded by SLI alum, originally organized in response to government inaction to support Chinatown after 9/11. 150-300 high school students mobilize to clean up the streets of Chinatown and attend workshops on the changing needs of NYC’s Chinatown, covering topics such as the rise of gentrification and Anti-Asian Hate.

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