For over four years, Gangstas Making Astronomical Community Changes Inc. has been interrupting violence and conducting numerous successful conflict mediations. By providing tools and resources to young and old alike, G-MACC helps people reflect, learn, act and evolve to embrace the healthy, caring, stable individual within, and to transform the surrounding community through positivity and activism.
In our partnership with G-MACC, their team provides physical mentorship through physical fitness, and counseling for young people to deal with trauma and aggressive behavior with young men and women in two facilities on Rikers.
Read more about G-MACC here: http://gangstamackin.com/
Youth Represent was founded in 2006 to fill the need for providing truly comprehensive legal guidance to young, low-income New Yorkers. Youth Represent works with young people 25 and under who have been involved in the justice system. The spectrum of this involvement is wide, and Youth Represent recognizes that system involvement of any degree can not only create legal roadblocks for success; it can also imbed a deep mistrust of our justice system and its laws.
In our partnership, Youth Represent provides youth with a continuum of legal services from admission to Rikers, during incarceration, and upon release and reentry, including advocacy for release, rap sheet review, and employment advocacy.
Read more about Youth Represent here: http://youthrepresent.org/
Yaffa Cultural Arts
Yaffa works with educational institutions and community service organizations to provide a variety of community development programs with a focus on social-cultural awareness and the arts. Yaffa programs aspire to enhance academic achievement and enrich the lives of children, adults, senior citizens, and families from a broad range of backgrounds.
In our partnership, Yaffa will provide services to young women at Rikers in storytelling, cultural identification and life skills for empowerment and personal transformation.
Read more about Yaffa Cultural Arts here: http://www.yaffaculturalarts.org/index.html
Giant Thinking’s mission is to: increase both the quantity and quality of information necessary to make reasoned choices – information that, for whatever reasons, have not been readily available – so that our primarily urban youth can be exposed to universal concepts and practices that will allow them a better understanding of themselves and society. This in turn will help our youth make positive contributions to themselves, their families and their society in a more complete, satisfying and productive manner.
In our partnership, Giant Thinking empowers young people on Rikers Island through a combination of physical fitness, gang awareness and transformative thinking.
Read more about Giant Thinking here: https://wswcf.org/projects/bartendaz-social/
The Animation Project (TAP)
TAP uses digital art technology as a tool to change the lives of youth. They capitalize on youth’s natural interest in new media to engage them in group therapy sessions, cultivating self-expression, improving self-esteem, enhancing social and emotional coping skills, while simultaneously fostering the development of practical computer competencies that transfer to many career and education paths.
In our partnership, The Animation Project provides 2 complete cycles of their foundation program – 3D Computer Animation Therapy Group. In this hands-on intensive group, youth collaborate to create an original animated film.
Read more about The Animation Project here: http://theanimationproject.org/
Established in 2008, Chess NYC is New York City’s largest chess-playing community. Chess NYC coaches and runs competitions for over 10,000 students in over 50 schools and institutions throughout the city. In our partnership, NYC Chess provides mentorship as it relates to chess in all four facilities on Rikers.
Read more about NYC Chess here: http://chessnyc.com/
Cello without Walls
In 2014, Jacob Cohen received a grant through the Transform Today competition to play music in correctional facilities throughout the United States. He worked and performed at Sing Sing prison, Graterford Correctional Facility and Eastern Correctional Facility, culminating in a TED X Talk at Sing Sing in December.
Later in the year, Jacob partnered with Friends of Island Academy to perform the cello on Rikers Island. He performed for the first time in November 2014. The performance was overwhelmingly successful, with young people and facility staff immediately asking whether he would return.
Since then, Jacob has played music at different facilities on Rikers Island countless times, accompanied by Friends’ youth advocates, and has become a permanent member of Friends’ staffHis music is adaptable: when playing background music he can accentuate speeches and group meetings (important when we try to inspire young people to examine and change their patterns of behavior); he can produce abstract music that breaks the monotony of jail facilities, and group participatory music for spoken word poets, rappers and other artists to collaborate with. The strongly positive reception of Jacob’s music has driven home the enormous need for musical expression and beauty in the midst of Rikers Island.