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An Organization Engaging Teens in Service and Social Justice

By Eleanor Keohane

New York City, New York

Shoreline cleanup at Randall's Island is a regular group service project (Photo Credit: YouthServe NYC)

YouthServe NYC is a service initiative founded and run by young people who want to become more involved in the work of rebuilding New York City in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Created this past summer, YouthServe NYC engages peers in community service and social justice. YouthServe NYC has three primary pillars: hands on service (done in a COVID-safe way), virtual volunteering, and an online speaker series.

So far, the regular in-person and group service projects have included grocery packing and meal distribution with New York Common Pantry, a shoreline cleanup on Randall’s Island, and meal deliveries with the Stanley Isaacs Center.

YouthServe NYC also offers a range of virtual volunteering opportunities from tutoring to calling and writing to homebound elders (this fall, YouthServe NYC added staffing the polls and census outreach to the listed virtual volunteer activities to meet pressing and timely needs).

The final pillar of YouthServe NYC is the online speaker series. As Zoom offers an unusual opportunity to hear from civic leaders who might not otherwise be available, YouthServe NYC has been able to organize an exciting speaker series to learn more about important issues across the city. Speakers to date have included Nancy Park from the Robin Hood Foundation; Dianne Morales, a candidate for NYC mayor; Councilman Mark Levine; Julie Menin, the director of NYC Census 2020; Stephanie Moshier from the West Side Campaign Against Hunger; Adureh Onyekwere from the Vera Institute of Justice; and Liam Elkind, the founder of Invisible Hands.

During this Holiday season, YouthServe NYC has also organized a food drive with New York Common Pantry and a coat drive through New York Cares. For the month of December, YouthServe NYC is continuing its meal deliveries with the Stanley Isaacs Center and will hear from speakers Desmon Lewis and Derrick Lewis, Co-Founders of the Bronx Community Relief Effort and the new Bronx Community Foundation.

All of YouthServe NYC’s work and activities will continue in the winter and spring, volunteers welcome! (For more information, please email or go to


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