DYCD History

Seventy Five Years of Serving New York City Youth and Communities.

Milestones in:

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DYCD served a record 343,673 young people and 80,066 adults in Fiscal Year 2023, along with participant increases in nearly every DYCD-funded program, including afterschool and other community programming.

The Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS) is transferred to DYCD as part of Mayor Adams’ priority of keeping New York City safe.

The Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) celebrates its 60th anniversary.

The expansion of the year-round Work, Learn and Grow (WLG) program to 7,000 slots maximizes opportunities for youth in six precincts noted in the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force as high crime areas.

Seven new Saturday Night Lights (SNL) sites opened to offer even more programming on Saturdays, a day when young people are typically vulnerable to trouble.

DYCD collected a record 3,422 responses for the 2023 NYC Youth Count, a point-in-time census of sheltered and unsheltered young people.

DYCD collected a record 28,491 Community Needs Assessments (CNA), a 119 percent increase over the previous CNA in 2020.


Keith Howard was named DYCD Commissioner by Mayor Adams.

The Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) served 100,000 young people at more than 18,000 worksites, the highest numbers in its six-decade history.

Summer Rising expanded to serve a record enrollment of 110,000 K-8 young people.

The number of Saturday Night Lights sites across the city grew to give young people safe places for learning, recreation, and forming new friendships.

DYCD and our sister agencies cleared a backlog of contracts—resulting in 1,580 previously unregistered, retroactive contract actions being registered or submitted for registration. $117.5 million was released to the sector, and more than 450 providers were freed up to better serve New Yorkers.


DYCD celebrated its 25th anniversary (1996-2021) as its budget hits a billion dollars for the first time.

The Adult Literacy and CareerReady Work, Lean & Grow (WLG) programs saw their funding baselined, SYEP recorded all-time high numbers of participants and worksites, and Summer Rising was created to keep young people engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Youth Connect is rebranded as DYCD Community Connect to better reflect the resources and referral services available for communities and families of New York City. Community Connect aims to increase awareness of opportunities and services available to ALL New Yorkers.

The final 813 beds for runaway and homeless youth aged 16-24 went online, while NYC Unity Works, a joint collaboration of DYCD, the NYC Unity Project, the NYC Center for Youth Employment (CYE), the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, and the Ali Forney Center, was launched. The program is the country’s largest and most comprehensive workforce development program ever created for LGBTQI communities.

Five new centers brought to 99 the number of Cornerstone Community Centers located in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments.

DYCD launched Saturday Night Lights (SNL) in partnership with the NYPD and the District Attorney offices. SNL is a youth development program that activated 100 spaces throughout the City to provide free high-quality sports and fitness training for youth aged 11-18.


DYCD modified services and programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Initiatives such as Learning Labs, SYEP Summer Bridge and DYCD at Home were built from the ground up to keep services flowing. Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY), COMPASS, Beacon and Cornerstone programs became lifelines by providing food as well as Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), and DYCD continued to address the needs of New Yorkers through literacy, immigrant services, anti-poverty and discretionary programs.

The agency prioritized civil engagement to promote voter registration and the 2020 Census. Youth from DYCD-funded NDA Opportunity Youth, Train & Earn and Learn & Earn programs worked tirelessly from mid-April through mid-August to help spread the word about the Census and to make sure everyone was counted. In all, they made hundreds of thousands of calls to New Yorkers, and staff reached out to providers and community members, especially in areas that had the lowest response rates.

The “We the YOUTH, You the People” youth town hall series was launched to provide a safe space for young people to harness their voice and power and to develop their own youth agenda. Given the pandemic, social unrest and racial tension facing the City, DYCD also kicked off the Barbershop Talks webinar series to promote healthy dialogue among men.

Program services began for participants of the Advance & Earn program. Through an innovative career pathways approach, this new model accommodates opportunity youth at different stages of skill development and provides them with positive short-term outcomes, as well as the skills and tools they need to reach their goals and achieve long-term career success. The revamped CareerReady Work, Learn & Grow (WLG) program got underway to offer participants career readiness training, college-level CUNY courses and paid employment opportunities.  

DYCD implemented new approaches to external and internal communications in terms of content, frequency and delivery, and continued to invest in professional development opportunities and the streamlining and modernizing of our systems, including discoverDYCD and DYCD Connect.


DYCD launched the new and improved version of discoverDYCD, a major milestone in our agency’s history. This initial release provides search capabilities for New Yorkers to locate DYCD-funded resources. The platform will be expanded to include a sign-up feature which allows users to apply for services directly from the web or a smartphone.

Commissioner Chong joined Mayor de Blasio to announce construction of the Marcy Houses Rec Center in Brooklyn. When completed, the new center will have more than a hundred middle school, high school and adult slots.

DYCD was part of the announcement from First Lady Chirlane McCray launching the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence to enhance the City’s strategic response to intimate partner violence, family violence, sexual assault, stalking and human trafficking.

The Smiles of Love Gift Drive donated to Children of Promise, a DYCD-funded organization that embraces children of incarcerated parents and empowers them to break the cycle of intergenerational involvement in the criminal justice system.


Under the De Blasio Administration, and with the support of City Council, DYCD’s budget is the highest in its 22–year history.

DYCD identified three–year agency priorities in areas such as strategic planning,community input, use of data, human resources, partnerships and communications.

The Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) provided job opportunities for over 74,300 teens and young adults at more than 13,700 diverse worksites.

DYCD unveils Workforce Connect, which coordinates NYC’s workforce development programs by assisting youth between the ages of 14 and 24 to gain work experience and further their education.  

Under the de Blasio administration, the number of School’s Out New York City (SONYC) slots has nearly quadrupled, and overall the number of middle school students served has nearly doubled. The 2017–18 school year marked the fourth straight year that target enrollment was exceeded as part of the middle school afterschool expansion.

The City announced a new $9.5 million investment preventing and addressing homelessness for LGBTQ youth across the City, including expansion of hours at the City’s youth drop-in centers, ensuring that every borough has a 24-hour center where LGBTQ youth can go to feel safe and supported any time, day or night. Baselined funding will add 60 new Runaway and Homeless Youth beds for 21–to–24–year olds.


Eleven new Beacons opened in 2017 (bringing the total citywide to 91), serving 13,000 additional young people and adults. The first major funding increase since the program started in 1991 brings the per-center funding to an all-time high of $550,000.

In the 2016–17 school year, more than 116,000 young people were served by City-funded afterschool programs—double the number receiving services under the previous administration. 

For the first time ever, the Community Needs Assessment (CNA) included a youth survey and electronic submissions, and expanded from just one area of DYCD to an agency-wide commitment, collecting nearly 60,000 pages of surveys. 

DYCD-branded materials are now translated into 11 prominent languages used in New York City: English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, French, Russian, Polish, Arabic, Urdu, Hindi, and Bengali.

The City once again increased funding for adult literacy services by $12 million in FY17. DYCD invested about $7 million to expand and enhance adult literacy programming, providing services for an additional 5,000 individuals.

City-funded Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) beds continue to open; by 2019, a total of 753 beds will be available citywide—a nearly 200 percent increase from 2014. A new 24-hour drop-in center in Queens joins the Harlem center in providing services that specialize in the LGBTQ community.

With baselined funding, the number of Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) jobs available to New York City young people is at its highest level in recent history (70,000+).


For the first time in 25 years of Beacon programming, the budget includes a major funding increase that will enhance services at all 80 centers.

A record 60,000 jobs at 10,000 worksites are offered as part of the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP).

The Cornerstone program expands to 94 New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments across the City.

COMPASS afterschool will be available to thousands of additional elementary school children in the 2016-17 school year.

Launch of COMPASS Explore and COMPASS High programs. Explore targets elementary, middle and high school students and offers them the opportunity to devote time and energy to a particular interest or passion. For COMPASS High, school-based programs for students entering grades 9 and 10 will offer peer support and positive adult role models and will motivate students to remain engaged in school, pursue their goals and interests and explore post-secondary and career options.

Funding for Adult Literacy will support programming for 5,000 New Yorkers.

DYCD launches its new website.


SYEP provides jobs to more than 54,000 youth – a new record for the program. The City creates more than 200 positions in the tech industry and more than doubles the number of Ladders for Leaders internships and opportunities for young people who are homeless, court-involved or in foster care.

The tenth anniversary of City-funded afterschool sees the unprecedented expansion of afterschool for middle school students continue. More than 106,000 middle school students are served Citywide, with new SONYC pilot programs for justice-involved youth and young people living in Department of Homeless Services (DHS) family shelters. Forty-nine new SONYC programs are awarded to add more than 2,500 afterschool seats and nearly triple the number of existing middle school seats at non-public schools and community centers.

Runaway and Homeless Youth providers will offer Crisis Shelter and Transitional Independent Living (TIL) services with a focus on the LGBTQ community, including a TIL with specialized services for transgender youth.

The newly-launched Neighborhood Development Area (NDA) Opportunity Youth: Supported Work Experience programs will offer work-readiness training and counseling, paid short-term work experience, and opportunities for career exploration to over 700 young people who are not in school or working.

Launch of discoverDYCD, which allows users to search for DYCD-funded programs in their area, and provides contact information, lists of activities offered and a mapping feature with navigation.


Mayor de Blasio and DYCD Commissioner Bill Chong launch School’s Out New York City (SONYC), the City’s largest-ever expansion of afterschool for middle school students. The afterschool expansion will reduce inequality across all communities and provide sixth, seventh and eighth graders with safe, high-quality learning and recreational opportunities during an especially challenging time in their lives. OST is renamed the Comprehensive After School System of New York City (COMPASS NYC).

SYEP employs more than 47,000 young people – the highest number in five years.

Forty-five new Cornerstone Community Centers open in partnership with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).

More than 55,000 students participate in Summer Enrichment programs, and summer evening hours are extended at Cornerstone Community Centers to offer safe havens for teens and young adults.

NYC Summer Quest doubles its number of sites by expanding beyond the Bronx into Central Brooklyn.


With a $13 million investment from the DOE, the OST initiative expands with 4,000 additional slots.  The Cornerstone Initiative also grows with 45 new centers, and DYCD receives $13.7 million from City Council to support adult education classes and literacy and legal services for New York’s young immigrants as part of the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.


NYC Summer Quest welcomes more than 1,200 students on the first day of a three-year pilot program developed by DYCD, the NYC Department of Education (DOE) and the Fund for Public Schools to address summer learning loss. The program was expanded the following year.

DYCD staff responds in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, immediately fanning out to evacuation sites and DYCD Cornerstone and provider locations to help with Citywide recovery efforts.


DYCD helps launch the Young Men’s Initiative (YMI), Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ambitious and comprehensive effort to address the disparities faced by black and Latino young men. With funding from CEO, DYCD expands YAIP and the Young Adult Literacy Program, and adds volunteer mentoring in Cornerstone Community Center programs.


DYCD begins Cornerstone programs at 25 NYCHA Community Centers. Each Cornerstone provides year-round out-of-school time activities for youth and programs for adults and seniors. Youth programs are designed to help young people acquire the skills they need to stay on track, graduate from high school and pursue a chosen career. Adult initiatives focus on activities that enhance skills and promote community engagement.

The first-ever New York City Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) Runaway and Homeless Youth is convened by Mayor Bloomberg. The following year, the Commission releases “All Our Children: Strategies to Prevent Homelessness, Strengthen Services and Build Support for LGBTQ Youth.”


The Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) expands and enrolls a record 52,255 young people.

DYCD receives more than $80 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus funds. These funds enable the Department to develop 14 initiatives to create and retain jobs, serving communities in need.

In conjunction with NYC Service, DYCD introduces Summer of Service, which channels the power and enthusiasm of the City’s youth and connects them to the rewards of service. The DYCD Fatherhood initiative partners with the CEO-funded YAIP and provides 952 fathers with subsidized internships.


DYCD partners with Mayor Bloomberg’s CEO program to launch a literacy pilot for disconnected youth ages 16-24. An Adult Literacy Initiative with 35 new programs is implemented serving nearly 11,000 New Yorkers.

DYCD revamps YouthLine to Youth Connect, with the intent to help youth take advantage of the many resources available to them through DYCD and New York City.


The Mayor's Commission on Women’s Issues and DYCD team up to create Ladders for Leaders, an innovative corporate internship program that builds on previous efforts to provide deserving young people with opportunities in the private sector.

Mayor Bloomberg announces that the Out-of-School Time initiative is expanding to serve an additional 14,000 youth, bringing the total number of enrollees to more than 80,000.

Celebrates 60th Anniversary as the Youth Bureau for New York City.

With guidance and support from the Mayor’s Center for Economic Opportunity, DYCD launches the Young Adult Internship Program, which helps disconnected youth get back on track, and Teen ACTION (Achieving Change Together In Our Neighborhood), a service learning program that shows young people how to become agents of change within their community.


In collaboration with the Department of Cultural Affairs and the City Council, DYCD launches the Cultural After School Adventures initiative, which pairs Out-of-School Time providers with nonprofit cultural organizations in order to connect our young people with New York City's unparalleled artistic resources.


The City implements the Out-of-School Time (OST) initiative, the nation's largest municipally funded afterschool program.

The Department of Youth and Community Development is now the lead agency providing comprehensive services to New York City’s youth, families, and communities.


DYCD assumes control of the City’s youth employment and workforce development programs.


The Department of Youth Services and the Community Development Agency merge to create The Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD).


The Beacon Initiative is launched by Mayor Dinkins to complement his Safe Streets, Safe City anti-crime campaign.

Department of Youth Services Commissioner Richard Murphy designs the Beacon program and organizes staff and resources to fund and maintain each site. CBOs are then selected to run the first ten Beacon sites.


The Department of Youth Services is established by the New York City Council to serve youth through the age of 21.


Congress enacts the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA), which establishes the Community Services Block Grant Program (CSBG). Under CSBG, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) is authorized to make grants to States which, in turn, are required to use CSBG funds to make grants to “eligible entities.” The eligible entities are private and public sector organizations certified as Community Action Agencies (CAAs) under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964.

The Community Development Agency is designated by the Governor to receive CSBG funds.

1976 - 1980

The staff component of the Youth Board becomes the Youth Bureau. Contracts with community-based agencies are greatly expanded to include grass-roots operations, afterschool programs in school facilities, and demonstration programs for runaway and homeless youth.


All Youth Board direct services and staff are distributed to various City agencies. The planning, evaluation, and administration of contract programs, as well as research activities, remain with the Youth Board.


The Youth Services Agency is no longer a part of the Human Resources Administration, and functions under its original name, Youth Board.

1966 - 1971

The Youth Board becomes part of the Human Resources Administration, and functions as the Youth Services Agency. Satellite and Youth Council programs give youth a voice in government and an opportunity to run their own programs. As gang activity diminishes, youth service units are established in each Community Planning District to deal with employment, narcotics, education, health, and delinquency. Various job training and employment programs are administered by the Agency, including the massive Neighborhood Youth Corps program.

Mayor John Lindsay establishes New York City’s Community Development Agency as part of the Human Resources Administration. It is responsible for administering the non-public assistance components of the New York City Home Energy Assistance Program, the New York City Adult Literacy Initiatives, classes for public assistance recipients participating in the City and State Welfare Reform program, and the McKinney Emergency Homeless Grant.


President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” begins with the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. The Community Action Program is a key provision of the Act.


The Youth Board expands to serve new neighborhoods. Citywide committees are established to study various youth problems and identify available resources. Borough Coordinators are created to work with community groups.


Two direct service programs are organized: a Street Club program to work with gangs, and Services to Families and Children, a casework and counseling service for those in need of extensive assistance.


Referral Units are established in schools in order to connect children, youth, and families with community services. The Youth Board contracts with community agencies to provide family counseling, child guidance, vocational guidance, and after-school services. In partnership with the Board of Education, recreational and group services are established in public schools.


The New York City Council passes a resolution leading to the creation of the New York City Youth Board. Its principal purpose is to coordinate and supplement the activities of public and private agencies devoted to serving youth.


The New York State Commission Act is created by the State Legislature to focus on juvenile delinquency and youth development.