Press Releases

For Immediate Release
April 27, 2022

Melissa Grace, Rebecca Weintraub - (212) 720-3471

City Congratulates Bronx High School Student Planners

More than 60 Students Complete Department of City Planning’s First Ever Youth Civic Engagement Curriculum

A group of students give a presentation in a Bronx high school.

NEW YORK – The New York City Department of City Planning (DCP) Director Dan Garodnick and Deputy Mayor for Economic & Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer announced that more than 60 high school seniors from The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology (MSHS223) in the Bronx graduated with a certificate of Youth Engagement – Urban Planning Pilot Program from DCP’s Civic Engagement Studio.

“Engaging our students and young people as active participants in the City’s planning process is critical to ensuring all voices are heard,” said Maria Torres-Springer, Deputy Mayor for Economic & Workforce Development. “Thank you to the students, teachers, agency partners, and DCP’s Civic Engagement Studio for making this pilot program a success.”

“The future of our democracy depends on the involvement of our young people. The students in Bronx are leading the way in showing us what real grassroots engagement looks like,” said Sheena Wright, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Initiatives. “I applaud the students, teachers, agency partners, and DCP for their leadership and on completing this essential pilot.”

“I want to congratulate the more than 60 students, their teachers, our incredible DCP’s planners, and representatives from our sister city agencies for this wonderful course – one aimed at bringing youthful voices into the process of planning for our city. By creating a curriculum, these Bronx high schoolers empowered themselves and their communities. They learned about how city planning works and, even more importantly, how to advocate for themselves and their communities. Well done!” said Dan Garodnick, Director of the Department of City Planning.

Students presented their final projects today. In doing so, they had the opportunity to advocate for their projects directly to decision makers from across their neighborhood and the City, including Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer; Deputy Mayor Wright; Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz; Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr.; Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson; City Council Member Diana Ayala (CD8); Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice Director Deanna Logan; Public Design Commission Executive Director Keri Butler; Civic Engagement Commission Chair & Executive Director Sarah Sayeed; New York City Housing Authority Acting EVP for Community Engagement Ukah Busgith; Third Avenue BID Executive Director Michael Brady; New Yorkers for Parks Director of Advocacy and Programs Sherrise Palomino; Bronx Community Board 1 Chairperson Arline Parks, and many more.

The three-month curriculum was structured to build students’ advocacy skills and pique their interests in considering careers in urban planning.

The course was led by DCP staff from many different areas of expertise – including planners, human resources, and urban designers – four teachers from The Laboratory School who comprise the Government Team, and included input from City agencies with deep expertise in housing, parks, economic development, and many more issues. The curriculum was directed by the students, who chose the topics and mainly focused on planning issues in their neighborhood related to affordable housing, their local St. Mary’s Park, and use of community space in relation to the future borough-based jail coming to their community.

These topics were divided into three curriculum phases:

  • Learn: students shared their perspectives, knowledge, and questions about their neighborhood and City; students learned about planning, urban design, and how to advocate for the needs of their community
  • Create: students developed a planning related project of their choice (they chose to focus on three specific areas of interest to their community)
  • Advocate: based on what students developed in the create phase, they presented and pitched their project to relevant stakeholders and decision-makers at the April 27th presentation day

“Congratulations to these inspiring young people who are fast becoming voices for their communities. All too often our community development process leaves out the younger generation, but through DCP’s Civic Engagement Studio, more and more New Yorkers will understand the complexities of city planning and the best way to make sure they have a say in their community’s future,” said New York City Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz. “I applaud my colleagues across the City and the teachers of the Laboratory School for this innovative and engaging new certificate program, and I look forward to watching these students continue to grow as community leaders.”

“The students I meet in our schools are truly visionaries, shaping our city’s bright future and longevity; our policy makers should pay close attention to what they have to say,” said Schools Chancellor David C. Banks. “I'm excited to see the buildings, spaces, parks, and communities that our students envision come to life, and I’m thrilled to see our partners in government commit to engaging our young people as future leaders.”

“HPD, along with our partner City agencies, works with communities across the five boroughs to make sure that the City’s investments in affordable housing are fostering more equitable, diverse, and livable neighborhoods,” said HPD Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. “Young people growing up in New York City have a unique perspective on their neighborhoods, and their voices matter in discussions about the future of this city. Thanks to DCP and the Laboratory School of Finance & Technology for empowering our youth to advocate for their interests - this is the next generation of community leaders and decision-makers!”

“The children of our city are the planners of the future, and it is so important to facilitate, inspire, and support their growth and development in this practice,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “On behalf of all of us at NYC Parks, I'd like to congratulate the more than 60 students graduating from the program this year, and I am thrilled to see the next generation interested in bettering their communities and our city's park system!”

“We are encouraged by this group of talented and passionate young people who care deeply about public housing, and we continually look for ways to incorporate their ideas and voices,” said NYCHA Chair & CEO Greg Russ. “The Department of City Planning has been an invaluable partner in that effort, and we are excited to see the innovative projects and urban planning recommendations that come out of this remarkable program.”

Department of City Planning
The Department of City Planning (DCP) plans for the strategic growth and development of the City through ground-up planning with communities, the development of land use policies and zoning regulations applicable citywide, and its contribution to the preparation of the City’s 10-year Capital Strategy. DCP promotes housing production and affordability, fosters economic development and coordinated investments in infrastructure and services, and supports resilient, sustainable communities across the five boroughs for a more equitable New York City.

In addition, DCP supports the City Planning Commission in its annual review of approximately 450 land use applications for a variety of discretionary approvals. The Department also assists both government agencies and the public by advising on strategic and capital planning and providing policy analysis, technical assistance and data relating to housing, transportation, community facilities, demography, zoning, urban design, waterfront areas and public open space.