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NYC Youth Voice Aspirations During Conversation With The Commissioners

November 13, 2023

This Monday, over 400 of New York City’s promising youth were given the invaluable opportunity to engage directly with preeminent city leaders about pressing issues affecting their lives and communities.

Roads to Success (RTS) collaborated with The Community Initiative of New York (TCIONY) to host this momentous forum with the Commissioners of NYC at Columbia University.

The event featured a distinguished panel of high-ranking commissioners: Commissioner Ashwin Vasan - NYC Health & Mental Hygiene, Commissioner Edward Caban - NYPD, Commissioner Laura Kavanagh - FDNY, Commissioner Keith Howard - DYCD, Commissioner Juanita Holmes - Probation, Commissioner Louis Molina – Corrections, and Deputy Chancellor Kenita Lloyd – Family and Community Engagement and External Affairs.

Students raised pressing questions on mental health resources, public transportation access, school meal quality, and more. Commissioner Juanita Holmes offered sage advice to tenaciously "stay the course" academically and remain resilient against pernicious societal influences.

Commissioner Keith Howard discussed how, at DYCD, he is proud to empower young New Yorkers through paid internships, after-school programming, and by funding impactful providers like RTS and TAG (Teaching a Generation). 

The preeminent takeaway of the event was the diversity represented on the commissioner panel reflecting immense progress. The youth in attendance now have accomplished,diverse role models blazing a trail they can augment going forward.

Additionally,this event emphasized that youth voices matter and must be uplifted. Existing opportunities must be better propagated so youth can avail them. More platforms are needed for youth to voice concerns and shape the policies affecting them.

“Today’s youth have so much to say when given the platform,” said RTS CEO Sheila Duke in opening remarks. “Events like this amplify their voices and enable direct communication with leaders shaping their futures.”

Students departed feeling galvanized and resolute to catalyze change. RTS and TCIONY applaud the commissioners for their time and look forward to further youth empowerment collaborations.

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