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The City Must Continue to Fund Nonprofit Youth Programs

Young people across the city are constantly surrounded by violence and instability. We need nonprofits that help us to stick around.
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Stock Image. Photo: Julia M Cameron/Pexels

Young people across the city, particularly youth like us living in certain neighborhoods, feel like we are constantly surrounded by violence and instability. According to city data, the number of teens involved in shootings in the city tripled from 2017 to 2022. Too many of us get caught up in this chaos.

But we are determined to not be a negative statistic. We have plans for our future, as we testified at a hearing at City Hall earlier this month.

We both got the chance to participate in Second Chances, a program paid for by the City. That's good news for us, but not for the other youth who could not get in. Last year, 60 of us should have joined, but there were only 15 spots available.

Since 2017, youth between the ages of 12-17 have come to Second Chances, which is run in Brooklyn by the nonprofit JCCA, to be part of something positive. The program is for young people who have already become part of the juvenile criminal system, and other teens who are at risk of being criminally involved. The goal is to avoid the juvenile criminal system and build a better future.

Before becoming part of the program, we were both getting in trouble. We didn't want people telling us what to do.  And, to be honest, we resisted anything that adults told us to do. But, at Second Chances we found people our age we could look up to. And we watched a bunch of strangers turn into a group of people who cheer each other on and support each other in thinking about a different and better future.

In the year we participated in Second Chances, we got mental health help, education and job help.  We also met with other teens like us and talked in groups and learned we are not alone.

We started to think about dream colleges and career goals. We got tips to prepare ourselves for jobs and found out which skills will make us stand out.

We learned about soft skills like accountability, responsibility, time management and professionalism. We got to choose services, from anger management training to job training. 

We had a lot of work, but it was worthwhile. We grew in self-awareness. Our confidence increased. 

Our experiences with the staff inspired us to be positive.  One of us became a youth advocate and is working to guide young people on the verge of being entangled with the court system and be a role model for them in making better choices and see a better future. And the other of us is determined to make a difference by becoming a lawyer.

We both agree: We all want a safe city with productive young people.  As the City Council makes the budget, the JCCA’s Second Chance program deserves funding to continue giving us a second chance. There are too many of us who need it.

Noura Tayeh and Isaiah Santos, both Brooklyn residents, participated in the Second Chances program run by the JCCA.