Make the Road New York offers intensive and sustained support to a core membership of over 60 youth leaders in Queens and Brooklyn combined. We provide leadership and community action programming to an additional 2,000 teenagers through our work in area high schools, including our partner high schools, the Bushwick School for Social Justice and Pan American International, and school-based college access programs to hundreds more.
In our weekly Youth Power Project meetings, we continue to push forward on four major campaigns:
High School Reform
With our partner organizations in the Urban Youth Collaborative, the Youth Power Project is working to ensure that New York City schools are well-funded, safe, and privilege the rights of students. They are challenging the way that large public high schools are policed, and pushing the New York City Department of Education (DOE) to take more humane and respectful approaches in making our schools safe. Youth regularly participate in public efforts to challenge cuts to the education budget. They have also successfully pressured the DOE to replicate MRNY's innovative youth-led college access program on the Bushwick campus at other schools throughout the city.
Police Accountability After the unlawful arrest of 32 Bushwick youth in May 2007 on their way to a friend?s wake, MRNY?s youth leaders initiated a campaign to promote equitable policing in the community and hold law enforcement officials accountable for injustices. MRNY was able to help connect the youth to legal representation, get the charges dropped and obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages for the affected youth. MRNY youth members continue to lead efforts to foster more equitable relations between police and the community. Each year, the Youth Power Project organizes public events to draw attention to the issue, works with public officials to fix policing problems, and holds a ?copwatch? during the Puerto Rican Day parade to monitor police activities and distribute ?Know Your Rights? pamphlets to thousands of community residents.
Bushwick Research and Action on Gentrification In conjunction with MRNY?s Environmental Justice & Housing Committee, the Youth Power Project works to halt the gentrification of our communities by preserving affordable housing, protecting rent-stabilized tenants from landlord abuse, and reclaiming vacant properties for community use. In particular, youth leaders have been working to secure public investment to build more schools in Bushwick, where schools have been historically overcrowded and under-funded. The project is also working with the Right to the City coalition to reclaim vacant condominiums across New York City for low-income housing. Youth have created a wide-reaching public education campaign and continue to fight for citywide housing reform.
Access to College for Undocumented Students In Queens, MRNY?s recent-immigrant youth base organizes to improve educational opportunities for undocumented youth. The Youth Power Project is working in coalition to pressure the City University of New York to obey state law and allow New York City high school graduates the right to pay in-state tuition. At the federal level, the project is working to pass the DREAM Act, legislation that would guarantee undocumented students across the country the right to pay in-state tuition and access financial aid.
"Today, with 12,600 dues-paying members, MRNY is a unique amalgam of worker center, legal clinic, citizenship school, mutual aid society, policy shop, protest factory and church. Its four offices in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island are an egalitarian oasis for members, who gather there for conversation and classes..."