In mid-August, more than 60 youth age 14-15 presented the final products of their six-week participation in CASES’ Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) . While SYEP participants age 16-24 were busy completing jobs this summer, the younger members of the program were immersed in Project Based Learning courses at CASES locations in Downtown Brooklyn, Harlem, and the South Bronx. SYEP offers a unique opportunity for working age youth to experience having paid summer employment while engaging with parallel supportive services such as career counseling and workshops in job placement and retention, job-readiness, and financial literacy. For younger SYEP participants, CASES’ Project Based Learning courses offer a stipend and focus on important job-readiness skills such as teamwork, task management, and creative problem solving, while simultaneously empowering youth in their artistic pursuits. The following recaps the final presentations of SYEP’s 14- and 15-year-old participants the week of August 12, 2019.
Tuesday, Downtown Brooklyn
The SYEP group located in Downtown Brooklyn kicked off the week’s events on Tuesday, showcasing the podcast they created this summer, “The Hangout.” They shared a series of pre-recorded segments from their various programs, which ranged from pop culture commentary to ASMR. During the live recording portion of the presentation, one participant conducted interviews with several CASES staff members about the pros and cons of television consumption. The host prompted his interviewees to think critically about their technology use.
On Wednesday, SYEP Harlem explored both the science and the poetry of various plants they discovered and photographed in Randall Park this summer. These budding botanists were excited to spend time outdoors and explore a pocket of the natural world right in the city. While honing their skills in photography and plant identification, the students closed out their presentation with a slideshow of various photos they took over the course of the six weeks accompanied with descriptions of the feelings each nature scene emitted. The students forged friendships during the program. One student said of her SYEP experience, “We learned so much by working as a team and getting to know each other.”
Thursday, the South Bronx
CASES’ Bronx SYEP participants wrapped up the week’s presentations on Thursday with a gallery walk and exhibit in the office. Their artwork captured the sights and sounds of the Bronx, giving viewers a peak into the lives of professionals and families using media the youth gathered on the street and in the subway. The project also considered the resiliency of the Bronx. Students staged a crime scene by blending costuming, prop placement, art, and acting into a provocative installation that alluded to community violence and the ability of their community to overcome hardships.
CASES is pleased to congratulate the young people who engaged in SYEP Project Based Learning at our offices this summer culminating in a remarkable showcase of their work.
“Throughout the six weeks, the young people played a continuous lead role in the planning and execution of these projects,” Aleks Filkoski, Youth Employment Team Leader, said. “Each of the multi-media presentations are unique to the teams that created them. All of our participants should feel proud of their hard work this summer.”
CASES is grateful to the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD)  for its support of the Summer Youth Employment Program. This summer, CASES placed more than 275 youth in summer jobs, including the 60 younger youth (age 14-15) completing Project Based Learning activities at our offices in Central Harlem, Downtown Brooklyn, and the South Bronx.