2021 MAP Youth Leadership Council

What is MAP YLC?

MAP Youth Leadership Council convenes nearly 50 young residents ages 16-21 from 17 MAP developments in the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). The Council bolsters young voices to define community safety and well-being and achieve social justice goals in their communities. For nine months, the Council meets weekly to explore self-narratives, group identity, and social justice using various multimedia tools.

MAP positions youth leaders as advocates for safety in their communities and throughout New York City. The Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ) and the Center for Court Innovation (CCI) work together to introduce a wide range of social justice concepts to the Youth Council through art, photography, guest speakers, story-telling, and more.

The Inaugural Cohort
Meet the 2021 MAP Youth Leadership Council!

Arts & Justice

The first cohort of the MAP Youth Leadership Council worked with artist and activist Sophia Dawson to capture stories of hope and inspiration. Participants learned an array of techniques, including painting, audio recording, and interviewing, to share the experiences of meaningful people in their lives. To explore Sophia’s work, visit her website!

Social Justice Portraits

Youth participants practiced image transfer techniques to portray activists, key figures, and places representing their ideals of inspiration and hope, and their interests in public policy. Each piece addresses a social justice concern most relevant to the artist.
Check out the Social Justice Portraits!


Testify is the latest art exhibit from the YLC inaugural cohort. Participating youth artists captured the testimonies of resilient individuals in their lives. Each testimony includes an interview and original photography of subjects related to the interviewee’s experience. The stories explore trials and triumphs that are vivid, layered, and span a range of cultures and generations. Check out Testify!

Note: The first installation of Testify will feature the original photography on mesh canvas in an outdoor facility in Brownsville, Brooklyn.

Policy and Justice Sessions

The MAP Youth Leadership Council explores issue areas that are critical to community safety and well-being. In a typical session, members discuss a range of topics, including:

  • Spatial Justice
  • Social Determinants of Health
  • Public Safety
  • Racial Justice
  • Environmental Justice
  • Civics and Advocacy

The Council also hosts guest speakers to highlight their community work and explore best practices to address critical issues. These discussions, led by CCI and MAP staff, equip Council members with interdisciplinary strategies to analyze the concerns they will ultimately address in their communities through the Action Plan and Action Agenda.


Meet the 2022 Cohort!

Aleasha H.


My name is Aleasha. I’m a 17-year-old Brooklyn native who is an aspiring political scientist! I joined the YLC in hopes of helping my community grow and making a change. I hope to continue to help my community and surrounding communities fight against oppression and high crime rates. I will be attending the illustrious Morgan State University and will continue working as part of the YLC.

Alyssa M.


My name is Alyssa! I love music and reading books! One thing that I have really enjoyed about the Youth Leadership Council is that I have gotten to meet new people who care as much as I do about the communities and developments that we live in.

Aminata C.


I’m Aminata, pronouns she/her/hers. I’m a current sophomore at Brooklyn College on a Public Health track. I joined the YLC because I was eager to learn about issues and make changes within my community. I’m very happy and proud of all that we’re doing and hope to do more towards the next couple of months.

April Jennings

April J.

Castle Hill

In my free time, I enjoy playing games as well as learning about different medical diseases and random facts. Guilty habit: scrolling through gossip forums and reality TV.

Ashanti B.


Hey everyone, my name is Ashanti! One thing about me is I love to dance. Another thing about me is that I am a friendly person. Last but not least, I really like to play basketball. I joined the YLC to continue doing community work that I am really passionate about.

Avonnie C.

Red Hook

I am from Brooklyn and have always felt in the dark about what happens in my community and others like it. I joined the YLC to learn about current issues and come up with plans to take action against them. I have enjoyed the variety of topics we’ve discussed and how much input we have on discussions and pending projects. This program teaches and inspires while also keeping you involved.

Blake B.

St. Nicholas

My name is Blake and I am a 16-year-old upcoming senior. I have been playing basketball for both my school and for my own youth initiative called JumpShots Over GunShots that was created in the St. Nicholas Projects. I’ve joined the YLC to learn about community change, meet new people and learn about social injustice. Through the YLC I have learned about topics such as redlining and even applied for my first grant from reading the weekly newsletter!

Bobbye H.


My name is Bobbye and I’m from Jefferson Projects! I joined the Youth Leadership Council to help create change in my immediate community. I am excited to talk to youth from developments across the city and hear about how similar our experiences are. I am very passionate about theatre and I really enjoy music/art overall.

Chloe D.


Hi my name is Chloe! I joined the YLC to advocate for minority communities to showcase that our communities have as great of a potential as those with greater access to resources. Our community has always been geared towards falling behind stereotypes and by joining the YLC, it has allowed me to learn more about my own community. By learning about my community and and others like it, I have become more involved in making a change! A fun fact about myself is that I love tacos!!

Christopher G.


Hi! I’m Christopher and I am 19 years old from the Dominican Republic! I like to work out and keep myself busy. When I first joined the YLC I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’ve learned and done so much. The team has taught me so many things I would not have learned if I didn’t join. Shout out to everyone who makes this happen! They truly give me something to look toward to. I can’t wait to learn and do more!

Daijah D.

Castle Hill

I joined the YLC because I wanted to be the change in my neighborhood. I enjoyed the leadership and character-building sessions we had, along with the special guests we got to talk to. I look forward to taking the skills I’ve built here and applying them to other communities like my own.

Devin M.


Hello, my name is Devin. I love music a ton, and I even make my own! I joined the Youth Leadership Council to learn about public safety and justice. So far, I have been enjoying my time! I hope I get to learn much more in the future and can’t wait to get started on our final projects.

Enoch L.


Hello, I’m Enoch and I am a musician from Brooklyn. I joined the YLC so that I can learn more about what’s going on in my community and to find out ways in which I can make a positive impact.

Havana H.


Hi everyone! My name is Havana, and I decided to join the Youth Leadership Council to gain more knowledge on my community. Using this knowledge, I hope to be able to take some action against the things negatively impacting my community.

Jah-Quail G.

Red Hook

Hello, my name is Jah-Quail. I am a college freshman studying in social work and public health. I have always had a passion for social justice and helping my community. The YLC gave me the platform to make sure my voice was heard. In my free time I like to play volleyball, weight lift, and partake in other social justice initiatives.

Jasleen L.


My name is Jasleen and I am a rising senior in high school who’s interested in pursuing a service-oriented career path. I am still unsure where exactly which is why I joined the YLC! I am interested in event planning and working from the ground up for solutions. I have developed a lot of useful skills and have had fun expressing my creativity with art and photography! Since this council is so young, I am extremely proud to be involved in improving my community and others like it.

Jason B.


Hello, I’m Jason . I joined the Youth Leadership Council for a few reasons. Firstly, I wanted learn necessary skills to get a job. Secondly, I thought it would be great experience to have. Finally, I wanted to learn how to help my community.

Jason P.


I joined the YLC because I wanted to see numerous improvements made in not only my community, but others as well. I’m looking forward to learning new skills and having new experiences while being a part of the YLC. So far I have enjoyed the photography workshops and the Arts & Justice class. Some hobbies that I have are playing sports and playing the piano.

Jessica T.


Hello everyone, my name is Jessica. Something fun I enjoy doing is writing poetry; it really helps me express my feelings using rhymes. I also enjoy going on long walks and being surrounded by nature. Something I look forward to in my life is my future. I just wonder what the future holds for me.

Jose P. III


I joined the YLC because I wanted to see a difference in our community. It doesn’t matter if things aren’t exactly in place or there is action being taken, what matters is we’re thinking about actions we can take and trying to plan for the future. I enjoy the group conversations we have in breakout rooms as well as when we come back into one big group to have a larger discussion.In my free time, I enjoy playing games as well as learning about different medical diseases and random facts. Guilty habit: scrolling through gossip forums and reality TV.

Julio V.


Hello, my name is Julio. The Youth Leadership Council was a unique opportunity that I couldn’t turn down when I was offered it. I was able to expand my knowledge on topics I never showed interest in and even found new hobbies along the way that I enjoy. Let’s go Mets!

Kaila K.


Hello everyone! My name is Kaila and I am from Brownsville. One fun fact about me is that I am in the civil air patrol and that’s basically training for the military! I joined the Youth Leadership Council because it was an open platform for me to learn about my community and change it for the better.

Kate O.

Polo Grounds

I joined YLC to discuss important issues happening in the community along with other participants in the program and to learn how to work together to find solutions and plans to address these problems. I enjoyed using art and photography through social justice, contributing to our newsletter, and talking to community leaders. I am looking forward to our upcoming action plan project where we all contributed ideas to host events in NYCHA developments. My major is in criminology and I am passionate about advocating for social justice issues and resources.

Kei’asia T.


Hello, my name is Kei’asia. I am from Harlem and have two sisters of which I am the middle child. I like to dance, relax, and spend time having fun with the people I love. I joined the YLC to try to make a positive change in my community, get out of my comfort zone, and engage in new things. I look forward to helping other people move forward and do things I have not before.

Kha’lil M.


I enjoy playing football. A hobby of mine is reading. It is enjoyable to always reread a good book or even pick up a new one and potentially add new unique words to my vocabulary. I joined the YLC because I enjoy spreading positivity and love across all areas. I love the idea of bringing new opportunities and activities to low-income areas that are almost always in the dark when new opportunities do arrive.

Michaela C.


Hello, I’m Michaela from Ingersoll. I joined the Youth Leadership Council to talk about how to help clean my community and take action to bring my community together. I have enjoyed the tips. I have learned how to improve my professionalism.

Mirlene C.


Hello everyone! My name is Mirlene, and I currently have 3 jobs at 18! I speak 3 different languages and by the end of 2022, I hope to add two more languages to the list. I joined the YLC to be more connected to my community and learn how to improve my neighborhood and our public perception. I love to play soccer and read manga/watch anime. I hope to gain knowledge to know what to do if anything happens to me, my family, or anyone in Ingersoll.

Nasir T.

Red Hook

I am Nasir and I am a leader. I joined the Youth Leadership Council to stand up and actually be a part of something that is taking steps towards making positive change. I enjoy spending time outside and reading books! I also spend a lot of time at the Red Hook farm!

Paul B.


My name is Paul from Tompkins. I love music. The reason why I joined the Youth Leadership Council is because I wanted to make a difference in my community similar to how NSTAT has been doing the last couple of years. Projects like From Blocks to Beats really help my community move and unite as people.

Sirazam M.

Castle Hill

Hi everyone! My name is Sirazam and I am a 17-year-old who has lived in the Bronx all my life. Since middle school, I have always wanted to be involved in social activism and creating policies to combat issues in our city. After seeing that racism is so deeply ingrained in our lives and the fabric of this country that it has become normalized, it drove me to apply for YLC. So far, I have enjoyed being able to speak with the leaders in our city about policy changes such as Shekera Algarin and Christiana Zafiriadis from the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, Ramón Caba from CCI’s Neighborhood Safety Initiative (NSI), NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Community Partnerships Chauncey Parker, and NY Secretary of State Rossana Rosado. As of now, I look forward to working on the MAP community project with my peers and working with Sophia Dawson on our photography project.

Tyra F.


Hello, I’m Tyra! I started having an interest in practicing spirituality during quarantine. It has changed my life for the better and given me a different perspective of the world. I joined the YLC because I wanted to share my ideas and better my community. I’ve been here for a while and there’s nothing I’d rather see than the improvement of my neighborhood. I love music and without it, I don’t know where I would be right now.

Vanessa R.


Heyyyy! It’s Nessa. I enjoy dancing and love anything purple. I also really enjoy the Youth Leadership Council! I joined the YLC because I am passionate about issues in our communities and in those around the world. If we can start by fixing issues in our communities, then we are one step closer in the right direction.

Victoria S.


Hi my name is Victoria. I joined the Youth Leadership Council to help be a part of the change I would like to see in my community. I am looking forward to meeting with my peers and putting all of our plans into action.

Walter B.

Polo Grounds

My name is Walter and currently, I am 17. I joined the Youth Leadership Council to learn more about community issues as well as contribute and collaborate with fellow youth across New York City. So far I have enjoyed the different guest speakers who joined us to shed knowledge about what they do for the community. My favorite hobby is playing either basketball or baseball with friends.