Youth development is a hot area in the non-profit sector. Unfortunately, most energy and resources are being misapplied in areas where the least amount of difference can be made. On the one hand, a vast amount of human and financial resources are deployed each year to reach the highest-need youth with the least supports in their life. On the other hand, billions of dollars are poured into athletic, theater, and music opportunities for youth living in middle or upper-middle class communities. The kids in the middle of the need-spectrum are in the most desperate need of intervention, and intervention has the strongest possibility of real life change. Though these children are tremendously talented and desperate for real connection, they are more likely to be sucked into the false community of gangs and drug dealers rather than joining sports teams, debate teams, choir, or theater.
New City Kids exists to fight the despair of urban inter-generational poverty by reaching these kids in the middle. These children eagerly respond to the invitation to become purpose driven leaders. Empowering these kids who are “lost in the middle” of the need spectrum is absolutely critical to bringing renewal to the urban centers in America, and to helping break generational poverty. With an innovative model that activates the potential of teens to catalyze change in their communities, New City Kids offers a range of programs and leadership opportunities to provide youth the hope, encouragement, and responsibility that leads to transformation. The unique program model leverages a teen’s desire to lead in serving younger children looking for guidance.
Through an after-school center with a focus on leadership, college readiness, spiritual development, and music, New City Kids creates a safe environment for holistic learning. Teens help run programs and mentor younger children, gaining the work and leadership experience they need to build self-confidence and dream for a better future. Through internships and leadership experiences, teens grow a sense of ownership over their learning and develop attainable goals. At the same time, younger children have a safe place to go after school and develop supportive relationships with teen mentors. At New City Kids, 100 percent of teen interns have entered college in the past eight years, and 90 percent of them have finished or are still in college.
Not long after launching in Jersey City, New City Kids witnessed a growing demand and the rapid success of its after-school program. New City Kids opened two more centers locally and began expanding into new urban areas. Now in three cities — Grand Rapids, MI; Jersey City, NJ; and Paterson, NJ — New City Kids is preparing for national growth into new urban communities.
Trevor and his wife Linda met at seminary, where they both became captivated by the question of poverty. After starting a church in New Jersey, they grew a vision to seek the renewal of their city by serving and empowering kids to become agents of change in their families and community. No strangers to failure, Trevor and Linda experimented with various youth programs before ultimately growing New City Kids into what it is today. By listening to the needs of their community, activating teenagers’ potential to lead, and seeking whole-life transformation in broken youth, Trevor and Linda found a transformational model that is now in five locations — and growing.
New City Kids is a 2017 S+ Catalyst. Through participation in the Catalyst Program, New City Kids receives training from industry experts in organizational development, branding, measurement and growth, and strategic relationships to amplify their impact and strategically expand their reach.