Youth Census Review Spurs Dialogue and Collaboration

Zoom Group Photo of Attendees at CUNY SPS State of NYC Youth 2021 Event

The Intergenerational Change Initiative (ICI), a nonprofit run by the youth studies program at CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS), hosted the event State of NYC Youth 2021: An Intergenerational Data Deep Dive on December 14.

During the online gathering, youth and adult researchers from the ICI met with representatives from New York City government agencies and their youth councils to discuss the findings from ICI’s 2021 Youth Ask Youth (YAY) census, which surveyed 1400 youth on important issues like economics, learning, community, health, and relationships.

“ICI was hugely excited to host this deep dive into our 2021 YAY census, where we shared some eye-opening findings and discussed how we can use youth-generated data to drive action,” said Dr. Sarah Zeller-Berkman, director of the CUNY SPS youth studies program and the Intergenerational Change Initiative. “We welcomed members from New York City agencies and organizations and spent our time together exploring the experiences of hundreds of NYC youth and their vision for how the city can build back better. The engagement of city agencies and their eagerness to engage with youth-generated data has huge implications for fostering more intergenerational policy-making in NYC. Making time to meet and have these conversations is crucial to our efforts to build youth power and spur change.”

Organized to encourage community-building, idea sharing, and action planning, the event was structured so that attendees spent most of their time in smaller breakout rooms, where they discussed the YAY census findings, how the data might be useful to their work, and actions on which they wanted to collaborate. These conversations, which touched upon topics like gentrification, affordable housing, restorative justice, and mental health, were later shared in the larger group discussion.

Supported by city agencies like the Department of Community & Youth Development, private foundations and CUNY, the Intergenerational Change Initiative (ICI) is an organization that brings together teams of young people from around NYC with CUNY SPS students and professors to engage in critical participatory action research with the goal of making the city a better place for youth. The group conducts the YAY census as an annual temperature check on the city by its youngest citizens, in addition to other data-driven projects, including one examining the effect of COVID-19 on New York City youth.

About the MA in Youth Studies program

The CUNY SPS MA in Youth Studies, the first program of its kind in New York, was established in 2017 with the goal of supporting the needs of individuals ages 12 to 24 by training qualified frontline youth-workers, directors, and administrators. In addition to offering a high-quality degree, the youth studies program has a research agenda that uses youth-adult partnerships and a critical participatory action research approach to inform youth policy and practice in NYC. Current projects include partnerships with ACS and DOE and Amplify, a set of new and innovative research tools designed to engage young people in city-wide policy making and drive local action.

About the CUNY School of Professional Studies

For over 15 years, the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) has been leading online education in New York. Notable for offering the most online bachelor’s and master’s degree options at the City University of New York, and for serving transfer students as the University system’s only undergraduate all-transfer college, CUNY SPS meets the needs of adults who wish to finish a bachelor’s degree, progress from an associate’s degree, earn a master’s degree or certificate in a specialized field, and advance in the workplace or change careers.

The School’s growth has been remarkable, with twenty-four degrees launched since 2006. Enrollment has risen by more than 30% in the last four years to over 4,000 students in the credit-bearing programs. Thousands more are enrolled in non-degree and grant-funded workplace learning programs. In addition, the School has an active alumni network and has established the CUNY SPS Foundation, which offers multiple scholarship opportunities to current students.

CUNY SPS has consistently been named by US News & World Report as one of the country’s top online institutions. This year, the School was ranked in the top 2% in the nation on the publisher’s list of the 2021 Best Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs.

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