Early this summer, Johanna Zwirner, Sahana Mehta, and I, along with other kids from schools all around the city, embarked on a week long fellows program and research project at The Robin Hood Foundation. Robin Hood is an incredible organization that uses 100% of its generous donations to fund charities and non-profits in order to end poverty across New York City.
Our first day at Robin Hood, we met the other kids and some of the staff, and were introduced to the project we would be doing. The energy at Robin Hood was instantly recognizable. Everyone working there was so clearly passionate about the foundation and the issues it addresses. It was wonderful to be surrounded by such inspired and motivated people. After meeting the staff, we were organized into 4 groups and we were each assigned an organization. We would be meeting and interviewing the social change makers responsible for these organizations (all ones that Robin Hood financially supports). The groups did in-depth research on the organization and prepared questions for our interviews. The first group met with Charles King, the founder of Housing Works. He spoke about what Housing Works does, how he started it, and why AIDS was such an important issue to him. The second person we met was Dr. Charles Marmar, who runs the NYU clinic for veterans. The clinic helps veterans and their families get back to normal, which can be incredibly challenging due to high rates of post-war PTSD and depression. On the third day we met Nisha Agarwal, who works on immigration reform for New York City. After watching a short film about immigration reform in the US, prior to meeting with Nisha Agarwal, the entire group of fellows became really interested and curious about the issue, which made it fascinating for everyone. On the fourth day, my group interview Dr. Michael Carrera who runs the Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program, a part of Children’s Aid Society. Dr. Carrera is the most wonderful speaker I have ever heard. He was so articulate, clear, and engaged while we were interviewing him. His energy and passion for what he does was more than obvious and inspiring. Dr. Carrera keeps at-risk teens busy (as he puts it) in order to prevent adolescent pregnancies. He calls it “pregnancy prevention from the waist up” – meaning, although there is an available sex-ed class for the kids to take, the objective is more to keep teens busy and engaged in school and learning, so they do not have sex out of boredom.
Thursday night, we worked late putting together a presentation about our interview. We made a short film with parts of our conversation with Dr. Carrera as a voice over. Friday, every group presented their presentation to parents, Robin Hood investors, and the staff.
I had an amazing experience at Robin Hood. I learned about issues and organizations I am interested in, met incredible people who work so hard to make social change, and had a great time doing it.
Lunch after our final interview (Johanna left, Sahana right)