Urban Leaders Academy
“ULA offers a door of opportunity for becoming a leader…I don’t think that any after-school (program) can compare to the information given here. We talk about violence…about how other people are being treated…how we can help our communities…” – Joshua Cherry, 12, ULA Participant
Urban Leaders Academy (ULA) is an after-school program based in three junior high schools in Brooklyn that both boys and girls can partake in. It is a holistic program designed to advance leadership skills, social justice principles & values, and self-determination within our young people of color. Staff and mentors view youth as catalysts for change to improve gender, race, and class rights for communities of color.
ULA is offered in JHS 78 – Roy H. Mann, IS 14 – Shell Bank and MS 381 – Middle School of the Millennium.
Serving as many as 50 students at each location, ULA intentionally collaborates with each school to meet the students’ needs by filling in the gaps with enrichment programming that schools are unable to provide. Over time, we have created strong partnerships with organizations that have greatly impacted our program:
- Kaplan Learning provides ELA, Math, Regents and Specialized High School Test Prep
- Arts Horizons provides artistic programming, such as Chorus, Dance, Clowning, Book Making and Mural Arts
- The Leadership Program provides social justice drama workshops
- Anti Violence Project leads youth workshops around issues such as bullying (with an LGBTQ focus), internet safety, dating violence, media messaging etc.
- THEO (Teens Helping Each Other) hosted a peer-led workshop series on topics such as puberty, healthy decision making, gender and stereotypes, conflict resolution, time management etc.
As a part of our after-school program we also have a Service Learning component where students get the opportunity to learn about Non Profits and Community-Based Organizations by visiting their spaces and learning how they serve the community. Students have participated in exciting exchanges and worked on engaging projects with organizations such as AIDS Walk New York, Brooklyn Food Coalition, Lit World, The Door and Materials for the Arts.
In addition, ULA offers Health and Fitness programming to encourage students to take an active role in their health and fitness. Depending on the year we have offered rock climbing, spirit boxing, Hip Hop dance, African dance, Zumba, Martial Arts, basketball clinics etc.
ULA, as a program, follows GGE’s Youth Development Model and considers and addresses the ‘whole person’ when designing programs for our youth. At ULA, students are afforded a ‘safe space’ to share and grow as individuals, critical thinkers and contributing members of society.
GGE’s Youth Development Model
- Social Growth and Identity: youth explore the concept of identity and build character in relation to self and the larger community through a broad range of enrichment and support activities.
- Consciousness Raising: challenging oneself and influencing others to think critically about systems of oppression and the roles individuals and communities play in these systems.
- Education and Career: promote cross disciplinary academic excellence and exposure to nontraditional career goals.
- Health and Fitness: building nutrition and fitness awareness and practice.
- Youth Leadership: playing an active role in self determination, which in turn has an impact on the community at large.
- Community Organizing for Social Justice: building organizing skills and implementing strategies that mobilize the community to change gender, race, and class dynamics for people of color living in urban communities.