Equity and Education

1954, Brown vs. the Board of Education established that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional, but here we are in 2020 and there is still an overwhelming DIVIDE in how young people are being educated in NYC. With all of the advancements in the approaches to teaching, the playing field still lacks equity.

The tale of two schools illustrates the unequal funding for schools in wealthy and poor neighborhoods. Young people seeking higher degrees are often left in debt or can't afford to attend college, and the digital divide has left educators and students alike in a no-win situation.

Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor articulated it best when she said" Until we get equality in education, we won't have an equal society"

If you are or know a young person 14 - 24 years old, join the conversation. VOICE your recommendations, and let's GET REAL about Education and Equity in New York.

Abasiono Etuk

Abasiono Etuk
Abasiono hails from Nigeria and moved to New York City in her primary years. During her assimilation to a new country, culture and new life, she quickly realized her uniqueness from her peers. This did not stop Abasiono from excelling academically and participating in sports at her local afterschool program. As a young adult, she held various retail jobs and experienced firsthand the inequities of being an immigrant and a woman in the workforce. This led her to realize how important it is to have self-awareness and self-love in a world that does not see past labels. After an injury on the job, she looked to healing mentally and physically. Now as a freelance Social Media Manager, a Proofreader and Editor, hairstylist, and wellness coach, Abasiono prioritizes sharing as much information as she can with her community about mental and spiritual wellness.

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Elijah Green
Elijah Green is a 16-year-old student at Broome Street Academy whose passion for community, racial equity and the arts has led him to activism and service. Elijah’s participation with The Possibility Project has given him the opportunity through theater arts to bring awareness, life and voice to issues that young people face every day: bullying, social acceptance, sexual orientation discrimination and gender identity bias. In addition to volunteering with the Bravo EMT Youth program in Bay Ridge, he is part of the NYPD Explorers program, where he is considering a career in law and public service. Most recently, Elijah helped form the grassroots NYC Marchers movement to speak out against police brutality. Elijah’s belief in equity constantly inspires him to “act as a bridge and be a catalyst for change while standing firm as an advocate for those most in need."


Ebube Nwaeme
My name is Ebube Nwaeme. I am 17 years old. I currently attend the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) and I'm going into my second semester in the fall of 2020. -I found out about Mbsk in high school through the recommendation of an mentor from my after school program. I joined the council because I saw it as a platform to use my voice as a young person to effect change in my society. I also joined because I saw it as a great opportunity to participate and engaged in youth related activities. My main interest has always been to bring more awareness to the power and voice young people have in the society. I sincerely believe the days of “you are the leaders of tomorrow” are gone and the leadership should start coming to actualization NOW. I believe I’m in the right path through MBSK. -I don’t stress about my future. But I think about it from time to time. I want to do things that are based on my skills and my personality. I see myself doing to tv/radio work and also music.

 Chelsea Zuniga

Chelsea Zuniga
Hello my name is Chelsea Zuniga. I’m 17 years old and I’m a senior at Fashion Industries High School in Manhattan. I’ve always been interested in the fashion; my favorite color is green and I am from the South Bronx. I am a member of My Brother’s Sisters Keeper Youth Council, the National Honor Society, and my school’s gaming club. After high school I plan on continuing my studies in fashion design. I want to use my voice to raise awareness of issues that people in my community face. I also believe I can use my passion for fashion as a platform for change.

Sue Najm

Sue Najm
Sue Najm is a rising senior at Fort Hamilton High School. She’s an active advocate for social justice regarding education and youth as well as foster care while working with multiple organizations and programs. She hopes to continue writing and speaking about civil rights and youth in the future to demand change within the system.

 Adofo Abdullah Muhammad

Adofo Muhammad
Adofo Muhammad has dedicated his professional life to the upward mobility of New York City youth through academic achievement and working tirelessly to ensure students in public schools receive the best education possible. He earned a master’s degree in secondary education from the City College of New York, and a master’s degree in School Administration and Supervision from Fordham University. He has been part of the New York City Department of Education since 1998; as the Assistant Principal of Middle School 258 where he worked to help change the environment and create conditions that were more conducive to academic achievement, and as the principal of Middle School 143 where Mathematics and English Language Arts test scores dramatically increased. Since 2008, Mr. Muhammad has been the Principal of Bedford Academy high school in Brooklyn. Most recently, he has worked with a collective of educators called the Blueprint Group sponsoring legislation that promotes equity and educational access to Black and Brown scholars of New York State. Mr. Muhammad is currently a member of the NAACP, the Poor People’s Campaign, and the National Action Network.

Tracey Scronic

Tracey Scronic
Tracey serves as an Instructional Lead at the Brooklyn North Borough Office of the NYC Department of Education, specializing in K-8 Mathematics. She began her education career as a Dual Language (Spanish/English) teacher in District 17 in Brooklyn. After leaving the classroom, she helped found a progressive bilingual school, and later served as a Math Instructional Coach and Curriculum Developer, a Teacher Development Coach with the Office of Teacher Effectiveness, and a Middle School Assistant Principal in District 13. She completed her undergraduate studies in American Civilization at Brown University, holds an M.S.Ed. in Bilingual Childhood Education from Hunter College, and has an M.S.Ed. in Educational Leadership with School Building and School District Leadership certification. Tracey is a passionate advocate for developmentally appropriate, challenging, and joyful public education for all children, so that they may grow up to become outspoken and empowered participants in whatever life pursuits they choose.

Liliah Majia

Liliah Majia
Lilah Mejia is a native to the vibrant culture found in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. At an early age, she was introduced to the value of community and has dedicated her life to social advocacy. Lilah earned a degree in Human Services from the State University of New York, Empire State College, and has championed her advocacies to empower the community both locally and internationally. Lilah has worked with organizations such as Good Shepherd Services, Green Chimneys, LES READY, and following hurricane Sandy established a disaster recovery network for the Lower East Side.
Lilah is an organizer advocating on behalf of low-income families, and as the Vice President to the Community Education Council, is committed to working on desegregating Public Schools. Additionally, Lilah’s district is the first ever to implement a Socio-Economic grant through the Department of Education that was targeted at diversifying the admissions process. When Lilah is not working, she enjoys raising her six children.

Edyson Julio

Edyson Julio
Edyson Julio is a native of the South Bronx, and a recent graduate of Harvard's School of Education, where he was awarded an Urban Scholar's Fellowship. At Harvard, Edyson worked on a social theory that examines the relationship between urban culture and civic duty. Since its finding, his Performing-to-Survive theory has been cited by academics at universities across the country, and used widely in classrooms to improve the teaching and learning process. Before making the move to Cambridge for graduate school, Edyson was a Creative Writing instructor on Rikers Island, and a Workshop Facilitator at Horizon Juvenile Detention. Outside of his commitment to the incarcerated, Edyson has worked as an educational consultant for public schools in New York City. He was awarded the Paul Afolabi Award for Commitment to Educational Justice at Harvard University, and was the commencement speaker for the 2018 graduating class. Edyson also holds an Master of Fine Art in Fiction from Hunter College, and is a Board Member for the Kalief Browder foundation. His work has been profiled by the Bronx Documentary Center, Channel 12 News, and the New York Times.

Reinaldo Maristany

Reinaldo Maristany
Reinaldo Maristany is a graduate of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of International Studies. He was raised in the Bronx, attended private Catholic school, a boarding school, and currently lives in Harlem. Reinaldo is a Program Associate at the Association to Benefit Children (ABC) a nonprofit that supports early childhood education and mental health programs, serving disadvantaged children and families in East Harlem and the South Bronx. Reinaldo looks forward to having the opportunity to share his story at this Youth Town Hall and is hopeful his personal experiences will encourage young people and help advance positive change as it relates to education in New York City.

Jessica Rosario

Jessica Rosario
Jessica Rosario is a 21 year-old first-generation college student and Higher Education advocate. Jessica worked at New York Edge afterschool program for three years as a leadership specialist while attending Queensborough Community College. From her time at QCC and on she continues to work tirelessly to push for increased funding of the City University of New York (CUNY) through campus organizing, peer education, and lobbying in Albany. Currently Jessica is enrolled at John Jay College of Criminal Justice pursuing a B.A. in Political Science and is Chair of the CUNY University Student Senate Student Voter Awareness Committee.

Jason Bohner

Jason Bohner
Jason Bohner is the founder and Executive Director of the New York Youth Civic Initiative (NYYCI). He is a recent graduate of the Bronx High School of Science and will be attending Princeton University in the fall of 2021. Jason was the NYS leader for Young Progressives for Biden, an official campaign group dedicated to advancing progressive policies in the Biden agenda. He also was a member of the Youth Leadership Initiative of DemocracyReady NY, where he co-designed and facilitated a state-wide youth survey on civic engagement. In his spare time, he enjoys hitting the gym and playing basketball with his former Bronx Science teammates. Jason is also a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation and enjoys playing the guitar. In addition to running NYYCI, he currently is tutoring two students for the SHSAT and AP Calculus exams.

Young Idealist

YOUNG Idealists from LaGuardia High School

A group of fearless female teenagers from LaGuardia High School have established an organization called Young Idealists. The mission statement for their organization focuses on “Youth leadership fighting for equity in education and the arts for the silenced majority.”

  • Co-President of the Young Idealists is Amanda Reynolds, who realizes the important need for young people to create the ability to safely assemble and discuss ways that advance meaningful change.

  • Darah Barenholtz, Media Manager for the Young Idealists, centers her focus on the need for safety in the hallways of LaGuardia High School and a desire to provide a relaxed environment where students can exchange positive and negative viewpoints.

  • Gina Lim, Executive Secretary for the Young Idealists is passionate about ensuring the opinions, viewpoints and needs of Black, indigenous, and People of Color are heard.
  • Kaila Prescott, the Graphic Coordinator, believes in addressing and advancing specific issues that will contribute to helping create a society that reflects equity.
  • Abigail Rivera, the Co- president, is advocating to increase the dynamic of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, within the student body and faculty of LaGuardia High School
  • Suha Khan, is the video and media director. Suha hopes to witness and take part in creating change, no matter how big or small.
  • New York Youth Civics Institute
    In partnership with the NYC League of Women voters, NYYCI is made up of more than 40 youth-led and established organizations. Our goal is to connect students to long-lasting civic opportunities at the frontlines of the youth activist movement that are otherwise difficult to find. We encourage students to Take the Next Step in their activism, whether it be through further advocacy or political engagement, and channel the passion shared in walkouts, marches, and social media posts into concrete action. Our platform, including our website NYYCI.org social media (@NYYCI2020), and newsletter, brings together the events, workshops, and internship/fellowship opportunities for students to discover the multitude of options to make a difference in climate change, education equity, racial justice, and more. Through our Movement Correspondent profiles, we bring to life the many types of activists and opportunities in our network, helping to connect students to a group that’s the right fit.

    How youth can get involved:
    Students can fill out this Google Form to join our student network and stay up to date with the latest opportunities from our organizations through our weekly newsletter. They can also sign up to join one of our NYYCI teams helping to connect students!

    Young Idealist
    As Young Idealists, we aim to enforce Equity in Education and in the arts. Through discussion and empathy we create safe spaces and act as a middle ground for students who have experienced discrimination and the impacts of inequity in the public school system. Being a Young Idealist involves participating in important discussions relevant to current cultural changes and events, spreading helpful information on social media, sharing your experiences and making connection, bringing justice to victims of in inequity in public schools volunteering opportunities relevant to our purpose, and so much more. We want to bring new perspectives and ideas together. We want young leaders in one safe space working together to make a difference.
    Take the survey!

    Youth Town Hall Video

    Did you get to experience the youth town hall? If so, complete the evaluation and help us vote on the next topic and let us know how we did.

    Next Town Hall in Series
    February 17, 2021 from 5 – 6:30 PM
    https: nyc.gov/youthtownhall

    Research Brief on Educational Equity: Access to Higher Education and Disparities in School Funding

    Workshop: Student Rights are Human Rights
    Workshop is a discussion led by the New York City Commission on Human Rights for an overview of the NYC Human Rights Law and how it protects young New Yorkers from discrimination and bias. The discussion will engage youth on issues of race and color-based discrimination, and ways to combat bullying and harassment in educational settings. We will also learn about resources and efforts to resist racism for a more equitable New York.
    To register click the link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/student-rights-are-human-rights-tickets-132411577593 

    We the YOUTH Advisory Council
    Want to join the movement? Complete the application to join the We the YOUTH Advisory Council and help shape the Youth Agenda and future town halls. Complete the application here.

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