Summer break: a time for students across the country to relax, take a breather, and enjoy some fun in the sun. While everyone does need a break Some students took their summer vacation as a time to work and better themselves with a summer job. But not just any summer job, a job with New York Cities Summer Youth Employment Program provided by NYCID. We worked so hard this summer to be able to give our participants an experience they would never forget. Not to mention the chance to learn some responsibilities and make some money along the way. We are so proud to be able to display the hard work and determination our students showed this summer and in this post we will share the success of our Young Youth.

Our 14 and 15-year-olds participated in Project-Based Learning (PBL) that was original to NYCIDY’s vision. Our program provided work readiness experience with a personal development lens. The experience was both self-guided and facilitated by instructors in order to cultivate systems thinking and problem-solving mindsets that are conducive and demanded in 21st-century professional environments. Additionally, youth completed a career exploration process and a Project-Based Learning (PBL) experience which will cultivate vital workforce competencies and will result in the building of a Summer Society: NYCIDY.

Each year SYEP presents a new series of challenges and experiences for our team and this year we had to really bring our A-game to get it right!  After the applications, and registrations, and orientations we had to be ready to deliver a solid program.  It took an immense amount of time and effort to be able to bring the youth of New York City a great program this year. In the end, it was all worth it.

When asked about the effort that went into preparing for the 2021 NYCID Summer Youth Employment Program Associate Executive Director Michael DeVito Jr said, “We knew this was going to be a challenging year and we knew we would do everything we could to ensure that our kids had a great experience.  And we stopped at nothing to ensure we did just that – to provide something meaningful and impactful that allowed youth to use their voices to choose a path and project.”

NYCID created an asynchronous learning environment at NYCID.ORG.  Every step of the NYCID PBL Journey is showcased on this site. Each week our kids meet three times a week with instructors and performed independent work by completing a portfolio that we call The Proaction Plan.  The NYCID PBL presentations were based upon work that young people choose after having completed intensives in Career Exploration using the NY State Career Zone Platform.  And in the end, the kids competed in the NYCIDY games!

Now, you may be asking yourself what are the NYCIDY games? Don’t worry I’ll tell you: The NYCIDY games was a competition between 15 teams of SYEP younger youth participants. Teams created branches of their own city and voted on which branch would present virtually to a panel of judges at the end of the 6 weeks. At the end, the winners were announced and all of the presentations were beyond our expectations! This did not just happen overnight. It took thoughtful planning and execution from our NYCID team. Let’s take you through what went into the NYCIDY games.

First participants took some time on their own to learn about project-based learning and started on their Proaction plan to get them through the summer. They began their Proaction plan by setting their expectations. They learned that these expectations were important not to be set too high, but to be grounded in reality. Students used to show they understood this concept and were ready to get started in their independent journey. Everything that they did was recorded in their Proaction plan that was constantly getting bigger and could always be looked back on to remember their expectations. Participants learned about restorative practices and their circles of influence, how their past does not need to dictate their future. This seems like a lot but this was all in preparation for the first week of the NYCIDY games!

Week one began with a breath and body check and participants meeting with their instructors. Participants began to build their rock, their foundation of what would come at the end of this journey. They identified their emotions and used that to find their guiding principles. Each week had a different Proaction plan and week one was centered around emotions. Michael DeVito Jr. created helpful instructional videos to guide participants on this journey. Week 2 started with another breath and body check and then focused on the careerzone survey. This is a survey that unlocked potential interests for a future career and helped guide participants on their way to pick the topic for their NYCIDY. Participants learned more about how governments functioned and continued their Proaction plans to get ready for the third week.

Now that participants knew how to identify their emotions, week three focused on capturing those emotions. On the 3rd Proaction plan the participants began to unravel the core ingredients of their ‘why’ statement. Week 4 is when participants began to build their NYCIDY and dive deep into the place they live. Figuring out more about it than what is just on the surface. How are the people living? How do processes run? What is the mission statement of the city? These beliefs went into creating their final presentation for the competition. They picked their sectors for their very own NYCIDY and diverged from their team members for a short time to craft their NYCIDY’s!

The sectors available were Arts and Humanities, Business and Information Systems, Health Services, Engineering and Technology, Natural and Agricultural services, and Human and Public Services. Students chose which sector they wanted to work on based on what they learned from their emotional education and the information from their Career Zone survey. Week five began and the students were off to the races creating their NYCIDY based on the sector they had chosen. Teams formed and creativity was flowing! So much went into this process and the next week was when it all came full circle!

Finally, the time arrived for the NYCIDY games! Each group selected one sector to present to a panel of NYCID judges that consisted of full-time NYCID staff. The presentations went on all day and it was so tough to pick the winner it was so close! Coming in 3rd place was Instructor Benjamin Acri’s Arts and Humanities team – Arts for all. This group imagined a city centered around art with monthly art festivals for citizens to attend and participate in. Presenting team members were awarded $50 Visa gift cards for winning 3rd place in the NYCIDY games. In 2nd place, there was a tie with Instructor Jonathan McGee’s Business and Information Comics team who … and Michael DeVito’s Team (DeVito also took on the role of instructor) who created their own high school where inclusivity and creativity was prioritized. Both of these teams were awarded $100 Visa gift cards for all presenting team members.

Before the 1st place prize was awarded, something came up that changed the flow a bit, in a good way. There were 2 participants who forged their own path and decided to present alone. It just so happened that they were both named Sebastian! DeVito made the executive decision that he would create the Sebastian award, which would be presented each year to a participant who went above and beyond. The Sebastians really did so, creating a smartphone app for their NYCIDY and imagining a better world in their NYCIDY. The Sebastian Award winners both received $50 Visa gift cards.

Now the moment everyone had been waiting for, the grand prize winner of the NYCIDY games whose presenting team members would be presented with a pair of wireless Beats headphones. The grand prize went to Instructor Jacqueline Caruso’s combo-sector of Engineering & Technology/Arts & Humanities with their waterworks presentation! The group investigated what it would take to replace the lead pipes in New York City and researched what communities would need it the most, how much this process would cost and how long it would take. An incredibly thorough presentation to finish off the NYCIDY games.

When asked how it felt that her team won 1st place Caruso said “ We created something really amazing [my team was] a dream team. Living the dream in a city of dreams.” She went on to talk about how her participants had been very active throughout the program and it was more than well earned for them. They always completed their pro-action plans on time and even if they were not able to, they explained why thoughtfully.

This summer ran at full speed to get to where we are now. So many moving pieces that all fit together perfectly. NYCID is proud to be a provider of the Summer Youth Employment Program in New York City. We can rest easy knowing that our participants had a fulfilling and meaningful experience this summer. The participants that put in the work got paid for it and that is what we set out to accomplish. These youth are our future and we know that the future of our city is in good hands.