2023 ONS Youth Leadership Council

Cohort 4


Meet the 2023 ONS Youth Leadership Council!

Who we are?

The ONS Youth Leadership Council is an initiative of the NYC Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS), in partnership with the Center for Justice Innovation (CJI), and the CUNY Intergenerational Change Initiative (ICI) that brings together 65 youth leaders ages 16-22 from 30 NYCHA developments across New York City. Youth Leadership Council members are positioned as advocates for safety in their communities through leadership and skill development, research, community engagement, and a series of community projects. This initiative is dedicated to supporting and amplifying youth voices to achieve youth-determined social justice and policy change on a citywide and community level.

Participatory Budgeting Process

Each year, the ONS YLC leads a participatory budgeting process that engages a larger group of young people across the 30 MAP NYCHA communities. Through analyzing community-centered discussions, research, and youth-identified community/policy issues, ONS Youth Leadership Council members create a ballot of Action Plan projects to address their communities’ priorities. From June-July 2024, they launched a six-week voting period, asking young people ages 13- 24 to vote on a winning project for their community. With $65,000 in funding provided by the Office of Neighborhood Safety, the Youth Council asked their peers to determine which project from the ballot to implement.

Learn more about Participatory Budgeting Process here.

Action Plan

After the ONS YLC tallies the votes gathered during their participatory
budgeting process, the ballot item with the most votes is selected as their Action Plan project. Youth Council members then transition into project planning, where they continue to discuss parameters and feasibility, refer to existing research, and partner with local organizations and vendors to inform the project’s implementation. After scoping the project, YLC members mobilize to engage community stakeholders to participate in Implementation. This year, the YLC collected 1,391 votes, and the winning project, Health and Wellness, accounted for 27.9%.

There are three parts to the 2023 ONS YLC Action Plan project. First, the YLC assembled healthy recipes in a cookbook with neighborhood-based resources such as pantries and food preparation tips. Second, YLC members starred in three recorded cooking demos, preparing recipes from the cookbook. Third, the group hosted community pop-up events, Youth Got Served, in five locations (one per borough) to provide residents of all ages with meals prepared by an on-site chef. Each participant received a YLC cookbook and bags of produce and pantry items.


Learn more about The Intensive Photography Workshop here.



Meet the 2023 Cohort!

Amina M.

My name is Amina Mack, I’m 17 years old. I’m a nonbinary lesbian who uses they/them pronouns. I joined YLC too make my voice be heard. Ever since I’ve lived in the projects I noticed the huge difference between here and a regular apartment complex. The unfairness and dirtiness, I want too see a change. I hope too see my community become a better place.

Andrew S.

I’m Andrew I just graduated from high school going to be college student. I’m going to study accounting and try new activities. I like to protest against things I don’t like.

Ashley B.

I join ylc to make a bond with people who want to help there neighborhoods just as much as I do. Im happy to say I have met so many nice people at ylc from the ylc leaders to the my coworker. The ylc leaders are just as determined as we are they make sure we are okay mindedly and physically in and outside the work place I love that at least once a week we get to talk to our assigned ylc leader

Ashley V.

I’m Ashley I like to enjoy life and to explore the city. I joined ylc because I care for my community and want to fix some of the issues in my community.

Bryant D.

I’m a laid back guy who loves to explore new places, I joined the YLC because I come from a place where I believe community outreach needs more help and support from large government organizations such as the YLC. I’m looking forward to giving back to my community since the people in my community have made it such a memorable place for me, especially those who work at the Jacob A. Riis settlement center

Chanel B.

I love to perform

Dashawn K.

I’m Dashawn and I love to play basketball.I’ve been playing basketball sense age 2 and haven’t stopped sense.I’m on my own journey to my basketball career and I just hope it goes well.Besides that i just want my family to live a nice life and I want to be able to provide for the ones I love and care for.

Dayviyana M.

Hi my name is Dayviyana and I’m 16. I joined the ylc to help my community be represented in projects/laws. I love music and I eventually wanna be a nurse or just become someone that can return back to my community, be a role model and help those in need; whether it be family, friends or strangers who need it the most. I also love adventures and traveling with friends, and I constantly change my hair.

Egypt B.

I am 18 years old. I love animals, sleeping, working out, and watching shows. I play basketball. I go by “Da Don” sometimes.

Fahmida I.

I am a young woman with an aspiration to restore human rights and development in my community. This is why I joined the ONS Youth Leadership Council, it allows me to express my ideas and concerns for my neighborhood and its inhabitants. The team and I are working together to formulate courses of action to reform various civic issues in New York City.

I tremendously look up to Martin Luther King Jr., and likewise, I have a dream that one day everyone human would be respected despite their social identity or any other factor.

Franklin G.

Hi my name is Franklin Gutierrez and heres a brief summary about me. First things first I am funny, loving, outgoing, and great person to be around that just brings good energy. On my free time I work, go out with my friends and play sports like basketball. Good looking *cough cough* and i know how to dress, but yea theres many more things about me, but you’re gonna have to chill with me to find out 🙂



My name is Jada. Im from Brooklyn and I’m from Gowanus houses. I joined the YLC because I love to see positive change being made in our communities.

Jariel L.


Why did I join the YLC? Well first off people like me all over nyc suffer from lack of representation. Being a Dominican/Chinese American who was raised by a single mother of 6, I’ve experienced a lot of things that I would question and just ask the simple phrase of why? The YLC gives the youth the access be educated on these topics and learn the opportunities we do have. It also gives us a voice, a place where we can communicate issues in our communities. It doesn’t stop there the YLC covers the expenses and gives the platform to enforce the resolution to these conflicts.Being a first generation American I feel as if I was held at a disadvantage in certain things like school because although my mom speaks English her first language is Spanish so sometimes the help I needed wasn’t available. Independence was something I gained at an early age. Living in Queensbridge projects I feel as if I was marginalized and not given opportunities or just couldn’t afford them. I wanna stand for the motivation of my people and bring opportunities and make dynamic change in the mentality of minorities and the community we live in.

Jasmin L.


My name is Jasmin Lora, I am 18 years old, and I live in Queensbridge. I am a shy, creative, and funny person. Some things about me is that I like to travel, spend time with my family/friends, go shopping, watch plenty of shows and movies, and I like to try new things. The reason why I joined the YLC is because I feel like this gives me an opportunity to use my voice for issues I would like to solve in mine as well as other neighborhoods.

Karla J.

Hi my name is Karla Jimenez. I am about to turn 17 years old and I’m a rising senior. I am Dominican and I was raised in Brooklyn NY all my life. I have a huge family, I am the aunt to 4 nephews and 1 niece. I am very goal driven, I’m never sitting down I always find something to do to improve my self. In the future I aspire to be a Forensic Psychologist. Some fun facts about me is that I’m strong not just physically strong but mentally and spiritually. I know how to carry my self extremely well and I’m very outgoing and friendly.

Kayla J.

Hello my name is Kayla, and I’m a young woman in my twenty’s. I graduated from my high school in 2019 and while I didn’t get a chance to go to my graduation, I still celebrated my monumental achievement considering my mother never got the chance to. Im current in school for pharmacy technician and working on graduating from the program and begin my adult journey further.

Kelsy D.

As a resident at NYCHA Wagner, i’ve lived within this community for about 10 years. There’s so many things we can change to create a safe and loving environment for other NYCHA residents and visitors.

Kennedy E.

My name is Kennedy and I’m a senior in high school. I was born and raised in Brooklyn. Growing up I’ve always been an outgoing, old soul. I enjoy writing, spending time with my family, and taking pictures.

Keon B.

My name is Keon bishop. Im 17 year old, Im the 4 old of my 13 sibling my favorite color is blue , I’m from the Bronx.

Keonna B.

Some important things that you can know about me is that I just graduated from high school and I got two diploma one for high school and one for arts. In addition another think is that very shy at first but one you get to know me I am funny smart kind and hardworking and a organize freak. Another thing you should know about me is that I like to work and branch my self and do many different things that involve with helping the community.

Kiahra M.

My name is Kiahra and I love to take landscape photos, watch scary movies and listen to music. As someone who loves taking landscape photos I love spaces where it’s clean, safe and beautiful which is why I joined the YLC. To keep my community area clan and safe, to make it beautiful for me and others to picture.

Koriana L.

My name is koriana Lucas. I joined the YLC because I want to speak for my community to help others. Also hear from other people about their thoughts on their community issues. What I have enjoyed so far in the program is the voting ideas about what we can do and how we are going to do it. Some fun facts about myself is I like to party and learn about real world history.

Lalanie H.

Hello my name is Lalanie. I’m 16 years old and I a member of YLC. I joined the YLC cause it’s a opportunity to get my voice out there on the things I feel like impact my community and what change I feel needs to be made. I’m looking forward to seeing all the great work we would accomplish but most importantly I’m looking forward to graduating June 2023!!

Lashawn W.

I am a quiet person I’m usually quiet when I meet people. But once I get to know you are open up. My favorite things to do in my past time is Play basketball spend time with my friends. A reason I wanted join Ylc it’s because I wanted to help make change. And help my community for the better.

Malcolm G.

My name is Malcolm grant , I am from the Bronx born and raised. I joined the YLC because I care about making a difference in my community and I believe that all starts with the youth in it! I enjoy theatre, skateboarding, playing video games, and anything related to the arts, superheroes or geek culture!

Maliyah M.

My name is Maliyah and i’m 18 years old. I’m a caring and loving person. I always makes sure everyone around me is feeling okay. People feelings really matter to me i hate when people are sad and angry i just want them to feel better because i understand the pain. I taken friendships very seriously so if i call you my friend i really mean it. I go extra hard for the people i love i usually put them first. Being around good energy is very important because everything goes by smoothly and you just enjoy it. Another thing about me is that i’m verily intelligent. I just graduated high school. Im not going to college just yet because i really don’t know what i want to go for and i don’t want to just waste my time there and do nothing. I’ve been thinking about becoming a registered nurse so right now i’m looking into that and stuff see what place is best for me. Until then i will be focusing on my hair career. I really enjoy doing hair and i just want to own my own salon and it’s just popping like everybody comes these and leaves out satisfied.

Mariam K.

I am a high school graduate, currently enrolling to college with a major in biology. I love to skate, listen to music, and learn more about skills I can develop and issues I should educate myself on. I’m currently apart of the YLC and I love that I can bring up issues and come up with solutions with people my age in the community helping me develop more with leadership.

Melky R.

I joined to see what change I could possibly make with my mindset. I have really enjoyed the photography lesson and learning more about the cameras. I am looking forward for more of photographing as it’s really my favorite hobbies. I’m also looking forward with the merchandise that the program.

Nefer-Auset B.

I am a life-long artist who, for the last few years, has become interested in various groups dedicated to enacting change in the city that I call home. Working with people from all walks of life and all ages is as educational as it is fascinating. Outside of the sessions, I am usually listening to music, writing or drawing.

Niaeame H.-S.

I’m 19 years old. I’m a college student and I’m studying criminal justice . I want to be a detective for missing and murdered girls. Im very into journaling.

Ramisha P.

I joined YLC because I wanted to change the environment around me and my siblings. I’m looking forward to the events that are planned and helping the communities and people. I feel like your environment effects your mood and how you look at things and by changing the environment around us step by step we can help the people in the community’s feel safe and taken care of.

Rebecca G.

My name’s Rebecca, I’m 15, I’m a Junior in highschool, and I join YLC because I wanted to join a group/environment that allowed my voice to be heard in my community and would also allow me to make decisions that would actually reflect in my neighborhood.

Sean F.

i love sports,my favorite is basketball.the reason for this is because im more talented in that sport. i make music although i know i gotta push further and actually find my own sound, thats what ima work on. i like to be outside and chill with my friends but i mostly stay home in the house the playing the game. I like to have fun.I like to learn stuff I never knew.also I like to go out places.

Shania A.

Heyy!! My Name is Shania Abbensetts. I am 22 years old. I am the oldest of 7 children, and yes, we all came from the same parents. Fun Fact about me is I may not look it, but I am a HUGE game nerd, especially when it comes to card/ board games. I am currently in school for Nursing and will soon be a Certified LPN!!!

Shanice B.

I just graduated and going to college now. On my free time I dance.

Sharaya S

My name is Sharaya Santos I’m 21 years old and glad to be 2022 ylc member. I enjoy arts and crafts, recycling outfits and redesigning them. I enjoy helping others because knowing the feeling of happiness and joy is blissful and would love for everyone to feel it and experience it too. I look forward to making changes and strengthening the relationship between the people of my communities as well as those in nyc. I’ve joined the ylc to help contribute production and positive changes to my community and those all over NY. I’ve enjoyed meeting my peers collaborating ideas and opinions learning and understanding more about mental health, physical space, safety and gun violence, and economics. I Look forward to meeting out action agenda and our goals within the timeline and seeing the impact it can have in the future. My hobbies include dancing, cleaning, dressing up, making clothes out of old outfits, and spreading love and joy all over because there’s too much hate in the world.💖💖

Suvana C.

Red Hook

I’m Suvana Cruz! I’m an Afro Latina from red hook! I’m a proud non-binary and advocator for lgbt, women and poc rights! I joined YLC to make a difference in my community and others. I want to be the change that in the world cause it all starts somewhere!

Talia B.

Hi my name is Talia Benton and I joined the YLC program because I wanted to make a change in my community and get to meet and learn about others all around New York. So far I’ve definitely enjoyed speaking to the other kids during each session. Outside of work I also do nails for myself and others as a side job.

Taniya M.

Hi, my name is Taniya I often enjoy reading and painting. I joined the Youth leadership council in order to help make positive changes within my community. So, far we have identified major priority areas to focus on, surrounding issues in NYCHA developments. I look forward to putting our plans in motion and making monumental changes really soon.

Taylor R.

hi my name is Taylor and Im here to talk to u guys about why I join YLC. I joined ylc because I wanted to learn more about the world and how we can make it a better place.

Trackamason E.

I am Trackamason Exime, a first Generation Haitian American born in Jersey. I’ve spent most of my life in New York City, a place where generations of youth are experiencing more and more drug and domestic violence, as well as drug abuse. For this reason I’ve decided to join YLC. I enjoy listening to slow songs, reading dramatic action manga, and challenging myself.

Trevis B.

So far in the YLC I have enjoyed the multiple conversations that we’ve had and its really made a lot of us comfortable with each other. My favorite hobby is basketball and playing games with my friends until 4 in the morning. A fun fact about me is that I used to draw and I was kinda good at it. I stopped though and I lost my touch.

Zaymian T.

I’m a Gay Mixed man who lived in New York. Because of my environment and circumstances, I was forced to mature well before my peers- however I don’t let this cripple me or my ambitions to allowing others like me to not experience what I have. Though I may be hard headed, I still enjoy simple joys outside of my advocacy. Playing videogames with my friends, reading love stories, watching horror movies. I’m more then one thing and I am a work in progress.