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 provide opportunities for teenagers and young adults to become productive citizens of the Rockaways.
We operate on four principles of success: Advocacy, Volunteering, Mentoring, and Professional Development.
Advocacy: Our strength comes from our ability to know public leaders in our community. By attending community meetings, sitting on numerous committees, and planning communal events, our members become deeply rooted in the civic culture of Rockaway.
Volunteer Work: We operate under the belief that working for the social good is instrumental in personal and professional development. By committing to volunteer opportunities, our members establish a working relationship with community stakeholders and residents.
Mentoring: We believe in leading by example. Through mentorship, we develop mutual relationships between members and assist each other with college applications, job readiness, and everything in between.
Professional Development: Our ultimate end goal is to ensure that young people in Rockaway become productive leaders within the community. Building on the other three principles, professional development is the result of diligence, partnerships, education, and networking.
In our to build our capacity as an organization, we rely on our leadership, members, volunteers, and supporters. To build our power and create youth-empowered solutions, we take part in coalitions, alliances and networks. We provide numerous volunteer opportunities, political education and civic engagement opportunities in order to foster a sense of community amongst our members and program participants. We seek to take on a “for the youth, by the youth model” because we understand the importance of having an organization that young people control and lead.
Our members use issues identification to identify focus issues for their campaigns. Members work together to research and analyze root causes of the issue at hand in order to develop the appropriate action to take on that issue. We conduct collection drives, education and awareness workshops and community improvement projects around youth-related issues impact young people living, working and going to school in Rockaway. Members identify key stakeholders and decision makers crucial to the end goal of their campaign. Members then carry out and evaluate their campaigns.
Through street outreach, mailers, and door-knocking, Rockaway residents ages 15-27 are recruited to become members of the Rockaway Youth Task Force. After filling out an online application, residents are invited to sit through our Leadership Course, where they learn about the history of Rockaway, basics on community organizing and campaign development, and about the movement today. Upon completion of the Leadership Course, participants are invited to join RYTF as formal members, entering into a year long Junior membership program. Through this program, members cycle through three, four-month long cycles including Stronger Schools, Food Justice and Youth Engagement. After the year-long program, members move up to become Senior members, developing campaigns and actions based on local youth-related issues. Upon successful completion of a senior membership campaign, senior members graduate from the Rockaway Youth Task Force, or are invited to take part in a year-long fellowship program.
Our Leadership Course is offered three times a year: in the Fall (October-December), in the Spring (March-April), and in the Summer (July-August). Upon graduation from the Leadership Course, members enter unto the appropriate Junior Member Cycle – Youth Engagement, Food Justice or Stronger Schools – and rotate between all three until completion of each four-month cycle at least once.