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Press Release

Monday June 18, 2018
Contact:; 212-319-9437

Over 500 Seventh-grade Students Graduate From 2017-2018 NYC Junior Ambassadors Program At Historic Queens Museum

- Students and educators from all five boroughs celebrate completion of the program and showcase how they are taking local action on global issues -

NEW YORK – The Mayor’s Office for International Affairs celebrated the graduation today of the 2017-2018 cohort of the NYC Junior Ambassadors program. Comprised of seventh-grade students from across the five boroughs, the NYC Junior Ambassadors program empowers students to find solutions to global challenges by taking action in their own neighborhoods.

“As host city to the United Nations and the world’s largest diplomatic community, we have the unique opportunity to directly connect New York City seventh-grade students with the UN. Through the NYC Junior Ambassadors program, we are empowering youth from all five boroughs to become local activists for positive global change,” said Penny Abeywardena, Commissioner of the NYC Mayor’s Office for International Affairs. “We are excited to congratulate the newest program graduates and look forward to seeing how these young leaders continue to make a positive impact on their communities and the world.”

Since its launch in 2015, more than 1,000 students and educators from more than 50 classrooms and after-school programs have participated in the NYC Junior Ambassadors program. Each class selected for the program incorporated the United Nations and its work on the Sustainable Development Goals to fight climate change, end poverty, and achieve equality into their curriculum. Participating educators teach a range of subjects from science to art, and received professional training and specialized materials throughout the program. Every class received a curated tour of the UN headquarters, and a classroom visit from a senior diplomat.

At today’s year-end celebration, approximately 540 students and educators celebrated the completion of the program and showcased their final projects. Each class chose one of the Global Goals, from Zero Hunger to Gender Equality to Climate Action, to study in-depth. After learning about these pressing global challenges, students completed final projects by taking action on these challenges in their local communities. For example, students working on children’s rights launched a campaign against bullying, while another group of students created their own talk shows to educate their peers about world hunger and poverty.

"The United Nations welcomes the continued success of the New York City Junior Ambassadors programme. It's a great opportunity to connect the UN's global agenda with young New Yorkers so that they can make a difference in their communities, now and in the future,” said Alison Smale, Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications at the United Nations.

“Our young people are leading the movement to achieve a more equitable and sustainable world for all,” said NYC Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “We are so proud of our Junior Ambassadors for their leadership in tackling the most pressing global issues.”

“The NYC Junior Ambassadors program gets students and educators out of their comfort zones, and helps youth find their voices as global citizens. We are so proud of the 2017-2018 cohort and excited to welcome them into our alumni network,” said Aissata Camara, NYC Junior Ambassadors Program Director, NYC Mayor’s Office for International Affairs.

The 2017-2018 cohort joins an active alumni network of young leaders. Participants in the NYC Junior Ambassadors program have received classroom visits from UN Ambassadors representing over 25 countries. Students have organized walks for world hunger and children’s rights, written letters to elected officials about climate change, and raised funds for girl’s education worldwide. Alumni of the program have addressed a UN youth assembly in recognition of World Peace Day, spoken on a panel with the UN Secretary-General, and addressed dignitaries at the first World Ocean Conference.

“This program taught us that even a small group of seventh graders can and will continue to make a difference,” said Myra Goke, a member of NYC Junior Ambassadors from the Michael J. Petrides School on Staten Island.

“The NYC Junior Ambassador program allows educators the opportunity to give their students a voice in the affairs of the world,” said Michelle Jennings, a NYC Junior Ambassadors educator from the Brooklyn Science and Engineering Academy. “Three years ago when this program was created I saw this as an opportunity to educate future leaders. I wanted my students to understand as well as question the science that they were learning in class. Being a part of this program has opened doors for my students.”

The Mayor’s Office for International Affairs partners with the Department of Education, the Department of Youth and Community Development, the United Nations, and the United Nations Foundation to provide this unique opportunity to New York City middle school students.

To learn more about the NYC Junior Ambassadors program, please visit and follow the Mayor’s Office for International Affairs on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To view the graduation ceremony, see the full video on Facebook.

NYC Junior Ambassadors 2017-2018:

  1. Academy of Applied Mathematics and Technology (M.S. 343), The Bronx
  2. Archimedes Academy for Math, Science and Technology Applications, The Bronx
  3. Entrada Academy, The Bronx
  4. Icahn Charter School 3, The Bronx
  5. Icahn Charter School 4, The Bronx
  6. Lab School for Children (P.S. 315), The Bronx
  7. William W. Niles (J.H.S. 118), The Bronx
  8. Andries Hudde (K240), Brooklyn
  9. Brooklyn Science & Engineering Academy, Brooklyn
  10. New Heights Middle School, Brooklyn
  11. Joseph F. Lamb (P.S./I.S. 206), Brooklyn
  12. Harlem Children’s Zone Promise Academy I Charter School, Manhattan
  13. Al-Ihsan Academy, Queens
  14. Queens Collegiate: A College Board School, Queens
  15. Robert A. Vanwyck Middle School the Green Magnet School for Career Exploration (J.H.S. 217), Queens
  16. The Robert F. Wagner Jr. School (P.S./I.S. 78Q), Queens
  17. The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria, Queens
  18. Virgil I Grissom Middle School (J.H.S. 226), Queens
  19. Marsh Avenue School for Expeditionary Learning, Staten Island
  20. Michael J. Petrides School, Staten Island

NYC Junior Ambassadors Selection Committee Members:

  1. Penny Abeywardena, Commissioner for the NYC Mayor’s Office for International Affairs
  2. Richard Buery, NYC Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives (former)
  3. Kathy Calvin, President & Chief Executive Officer of the United Nations Foundation
  4. Bill Chong, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development
  5. Carmen Fariña, Chancellor of the NYC Department of Education (former)
  6. Paula Gavin, Chief Service Officer at NYC Service
  7. Phillip Hammack, Assistant Principal, Bronx Park Middle School
  8. Valarie Hunsinger, Teacher, Hyde Leadership Charter School
  9. Craig Kielburger, Founder, WE DAY
  10. Melissa Mark-Viverito, Speaker of the New York City Council (former)
  11. Valerie Rockefeller Wayne, Chair of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Board Member of the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors
  12. Jayathma Wickramanayake, Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth for the United Nations