New York is teeming with entrepreneurs, it always has been. Immigrants and opportunists and creative types built the city -- they made it one of the greatest in the world. But there's still room for improvement in a place with more than eight million people, which is why we've seen social entrepreneurs like Syreeta Gates and Divine Bradley and Khary Lazarre-White dedicate their life's work to providing leadership to the have-nots, opening the doors to employment opportunities, higher education and economic growth.
This summer, the New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched a campaign to identify the next generation of civic leaders, the city's most promising social entrepreneurs. The "My Voice, Our City" competition encouraged black and Latino young men, ages 16-24, local organizations, and community leaders to submit program ideas that will brighten the future of New York City. The competition's judges have selected 10 finalists and it's now your turn to have a say.
Below, each finalist makes a case for their initiative or project to win part of the $15,000 that is up for grabs. Meet them, tweet about them and be sure to vote for your favorite.
- Teen Dad Peer Advocacy Institute: building a network of teenage fathers who can become peer advocates and get connected to education and employment resources.
- Hip-Hop Debate Institute: serving black and Latino youth in New York City public schools by helping to expand debate training and opportunities, because studies have shown that participation produces dramatic results across most measures of academic achievement.
- Practice Makes Perfect: redefining the summer learning experience for underprivileged students by pairing the with older, mentor peers from the same inner-city neighborhoods.
- College Pathways from Rikers Island: by helping young men that are leaving New York City's main jail complex embark on a career path, the program develops leadership, promotes civic engagement, and reduces recidivism.
- Building Leaders and Scholars Through Soccer: using the beautiful game to teach the city's young, growing immigrant community from African, Latino and Caribbean backgrounds the academic, social, and emotional skills they need to succeed.
- ScriptEd - Teaching Kids From Low Income Communities to Code: addressing the technology gap that young black and Latino men face by training industry professionals to teach computer programming courses at high schools in low-income communities, and by offering internships for students over the summer.
- Beautiful Bronx! Young Men Take Action: introducing young men from the Bronx to community service opportunities, life-skills and education workshops, and reproductive health and health care services.
- MUSA: helping young men of color save the lives of others while saving their own, and make more money learning to swim and getting training as certified lifeguards.
- The Starter Pack Program: offering young black and Latino men accelerated internships and trainings to help them get hired.
- PUSH Youth Project: partnering with the New York City schools that have the lowest graduating rates and where students have the highest involvement in the juvenile criminal justice system by providing six-month intensive developmental workshops, connections to support services, and support for post-high school education.
This blog post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post, Ashoka Changemakers, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Young Men's Initiative in recognition of the "My Voice, Our City" competition, which aims to empower black and Latino young men ages 16-24. To see all the other posts in the series, click here. For more information about "My Voice, Our City", click here; about Ashoka Changemakers, click here; and about the Young Men's Initiative, click here.