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.
To build our capacity as an organization, we rely on our members, organizers, leadership team, 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 to foster a sense of community among 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 and organizers use issue identification to focus the scope of their campaigns. Organizers work together to research and analyze root causes of the issues at hand to develop the appropriate action to take. We conduct collection drives, education and awareness workshops, and community improvement projects around youth-related issues that impact young people living, working, and going to school in Rockaway. Organizers identify key stakeholders and decision makers crucial to the end goal of their campaign. Organizers then carry out and evaluate their campaigns.
Through street outreach, mailers, and door-knocking, Rockaway residents ages 15-25 are recruited to become members of the Rockaway Youth Task Force. After filling out an online application, residents are invited join the organization as a member, where they will participate in learning projects and attend community meetings. Dedicated members are invited to participate in CORE (Community Organizing & Resistance Education), where they learn about the history of Rockaway, the basics of community organizing and campaign development, and about the movement today. CORE is offered three times a year: in the Fall (October-December), in the Spring (March-April), and in the Summer (July-August). Upon completion of CORE, members are invited to join RYTF as Organizers. Organizers cycle through three four-month long cycles including Stronger Schools, Food Justice, and Youth Engagement to learn about movements and campaigns that are important to the organization. Organizers are then able to develop campaigns and actions based on local youth-related issues.
RYTF believes strongly in using community organizing as a tool to develop our youth. Teaching young people about the tenets of community organizing and empowering them to take the reins on our campaigns lets them see the impact of their actions in a personal way. Often, young people in underserved communities are portrayed as powerless and helpless. They are subjected to the actions of others and have little say in the trajectory of their lives. We want to flip the script and empower the youth in our community to lead the charge in advocating on behalf of themselves and others. Community organizing equips people of all ages with tools and experiences that will support them in their personal lives, the workplace, and beyond.
RYTF believes that effective youth engagement is essential to long-term, sustainable change in the under-served communities of the Rockaways. Helping youth realize the impact of civic processes on their future fosters a personal stake in civic engagement and community development, while paving the way for young people to carry the torch by becoming leaders in the community. Empowering youth to lead real change in their communities allows them to take control of their personal futures and the future of their community.
The RYTF Playbook is a great resource for everyone looking to learn about our cause.