The mission of the Rockaway Youth Task Force is to empower youth in our local communities through civic engagement & volunteer opportunities.
The mission of the Rockaway Youth Task Force is to empower youth in our local communities through civic engagement & volunteer opportunities. We seek to spark social change in the Rockaways through youth leadership and provide opportunities for teenagers and young adults to become productive citizens of the Rockaways.
Personal Advancement: We work together to develop our professional character. This includes resume writing workshops, mock job interviews, and more. We are developing ourselves for productive careers in politics, business, and community activism. Our members are training to become community organizers, lawyers, business owners, doctors, and public servants. We work together to ensure that we conduct ourselves in the appropriate manner to achieve our end goals.
Milan Taylor founded the Rockaway Youth Task Force in 2011. Then 21 years old, he was the youngest member of Community Board 14. Concerned with the lack of youth representation in civic affairs, he wanted to create a way for youth to have a voice in the community. Today, the Rockaway Youth Task Force is a community-based volunteer membership organization comprised of 50 youth and young adults ages 13-25. The mission of the Rockaway Youth Task Force is to empower youth in our local communities through civic engagement and volunteer opportunities. We seek to spark social change in the Rockaways through youth leadership and to provide opportunities for teenagers and young adults to become productive citizens of the Rockaways.
To become a member, youth and young adults must live on the Rockaway peninsula, and undergo an 8- week youth leadership-training course. Once a member, they must attend weekly committee meetings and assigned community meetings and help facilitate RYTF events. Our staff members who work in collaboration with our members manage the organization. Once the 8-week course is completed, members can take part in different advocacy campaigns on a cycle bases.
Over the past two years, RYTF members have identified issues important to them and the community and organized a number of successful positive events for youth in Rockaway. We organized voter registration drives, youth town hall meetings, Farmers Markets and neighborhood beautification efforts. After Sandy, we organized contributions of food and supplies and delivered them door-to-door to disabled and senior residents (see below). We also organized a space heater drive, and a community Thanksgiving meal at Nordeck Apartments. Our members participate in marches, including the March to End the Madness, the Trayvon Martin Silent March and the March to End Stop and Frisk. We have also rallied with our local library against library closings in Queens for the last two years.
RYTF is an active member of the Far Rockaway-Arverne Nonprofit Coalition and has built partnerships with various community organizations both local and citywide. Both President Milan Taylor and Vice President Silaka Cox act as appointed members of Community Board 14, with Taylor serving as co-chair to the board’s Youth Services Committee.
When Hurricane Sandy hit the Rockaways in October 2012, RYTF members responded by distributing food and supplies to residents of the surrounding community. Our members organized the supplies at the Nordeck Community Center and managed it as a hub for donations and volunteers.
After the storm, we received attention from local media outlets, including the Daily News, NY1, and the Amsterdam News for our efforts to respond, and our ability to mobilize aid through social media and received over $35,000 in on-line donations through Go Fund Me.
Our actions in response to the storm gave our organization more local visibility and national recognition. Our relief efforts were featured on CBS National News and our President was a Do Something Award Semi-Finalist, recognized by a proclamation from the City Council of New York, and was honored on the nationally televised BET Honors broadcast in February. We are advising and/or partnering with Pratt Center, the Pratt Institute, Grow NYC, CUNY Graduate Center, Citizens Committee and New York CARES, other local CBO’s and schools, and have been invited to speak about our experiences nationally. At the same time, more youth are interested in becoming a part of RYTF. The need for our voices to be heard, especially as our community rebuilds, is greater than ever.
Milan Taylor founded the Rockaway Youth Task Force in 2011 at the age of 21. Milan has always been active in community organizing, having been appointed to Queens Community Board 14, attending various community meetings, and ultimately becoming aware of the glaring lack of youth participation in his community. Realizing that there were few places where young people in the Rockaways could grow and learn to be great leaders, the vision of RYTF came to fruition - an advocacy organization created and ran by the youth of the Rockaways to properly address youth issues in the community.
Milan’s mettle as a community activist and leader was tested only a year later, when Hurricane Sandy devastated the Rockaways in 2012. Along with his small team, Milan mobilized an extensive relief effort in his community, delivering supplies and hot meals to elderly citizens stranded in high-rise apartments throughout Rockaway, creating comprehensive delivery routes and amassing large supply caches.
Silaka has served as Vice President of the Rockaway Youth Task since 2012. In April of 2014 she became the youngest member of Community Board 14 and has served on the Citywide Steering Committee for PBNYC, the New York Communities Rising Rockaway East Planning Committee, the OEM’s Community Emergency Response Team.
In Spring 2013 she was accepted into the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University and is currently studying Business and Organizational Management and Social and Cultural Analysis. Silaka is an avid book reader and enjoys blogging, burgers, fashion and shopping at her favorite store, Target. She is also practicing minimalist.
Born and raised in North Carolina, Jazmine moved to the Rockaways in October of 2012. She has been with the Rockaway Youth Task Force since December of 2012 and is also a member of the Community Emergency Response Team. She is currently a freshman at City Tech studying Graphic Arts and Advertising. Jazmine enjoys graphic design, listening to music, and shopping at her favorite store, Walmart. She also plays the trumpet and watches cartoons late at night.
Civic Engagement Coordinator
Khaleel was born in Brooklyn, New York and moved to Rockaway in December of 2005. He has lived in Rockaway for nearly 10 years and has been an active member of the Rockaway Youth Task Force for about three years. In recent years, Anderson attends Queens College and studies Political and Computer Sciences. Khaleel is a huge Knicks fan and enjoys meeting new people!