The Member Program strives to make access and entry to advocacy and civic engagement accessible to all members of the Rockaway community. This program provides a structure in which residents can be involved in advocacy work in an impactful, yet not time intensive, way. General Members are the Member Program’s primary constituents. General Members can expect to attend monthly town hall meetings and participate in volunteering efforts coordinated by Organizers. The Member Program is RYTF’s most basic level of programming and requires the least amount of commitment.
CORE stands for Community Organizing & Resistance Education and serves as RYTF’s primary education vehicle. CORE is an 8-week social justice course that teaches the basics of movement building and advocacy. General members who are in the Member Program are encouraged to enroll in the course to learn more about community organizing and how to become more involved in advocacy issues. CORE is a prerequisite for membership in the Community Organizing Program.
The Community Organizing Program provides youth in Rockaway with a more structured way to be involved in civic engagement. This program builds on the work of the Member Program and CORE to provide resources for politically conscious leaders to engage with their communities and government on behalf of youth developed campaigns. The Community Organizing Program requires a larger time commitment than the Member Program and Organizers are the program’s main constituents.
The Rockaway Advocate program is a two-part project that serves to allow RYTF members the opportunity to engage with the media. The first part is the RYTF Blog. The online blog gives RYTF a chance to add to media commentary on current events and related topics as an organization. The Citizens Journalism Program is a monthly newspaper written by RYTF youth. Both projects serve to give members a platform to dissect and share information in our community through a structured program.
Issue: Low Voter Turnout Within the Rockaway Peninsula
Campaign: Far Rock the Vote
Partners/Allies: New York Civic Engagement Table
Goal: Far Rockaway has some of the lowest voter turnout rates in the entire city. Many residents are absent from the polls because of political skepticism that stems from years of governmental neglect. Others abstain from voting because of a general sense of apathy and a belief that their vote does not matter. Our Far Rock the Vote campaign is a powerful non-partisan voter registration, education and mobilization program. This project utilizes highly effective phone banking and door-to-door canvassing techniques by RYTF members to increase civic participation on the Rockaway Peninsula.
Issue: Poor Performing Public Schools
Campaign: Rockaway Equal Education Project
Partners/Allies: Urban Youth Collaborative, Dignity in Schools Campaign
Goal #1: Ending the School-To-Prison Pipeline
The School-to-Prison Pipeline is the direct and indirect push out of young people from the school system and into the juvenile justice and criminal justice systems. Across the country, and in New York City, we experience this through the overuse of suspensions, zero tolerance policies that involve the police in minor incidents, school based arrests, referrals to juvenile detention, and incarceration.
Students know that punitive discipline practices do not reduce conflict or get at the root of behavior problems, disproportionately impacts students of color, students with special needs and LGBTQ students, and fails to make students safer. To begin to keep students in the classroom and out of the courts, we are calling for:
Goal # 2: Investing In Our Schools
RYTF successfully advocated for the introduction of Participatory Budgeting to the 31st Councilman District, which covers portions of the Far Rockaway Peninsula. Participatory Budgeting allows residents to decide how to over $1 million dollars of taxpayer money. Community members exchange ideas, work together to turn ideas into project proposals, and vote to decide what projects get funded. RYTF has fought to secure over $800,000 in capital improvements to Rockaway high schools through participatory budgeting.
Issue: Rockaway is a Federally Labeled Food Dessert.
Campaign: Rockaway Food Justice Project
Partners/Allies: GrowNYC, East Rockaway Growing Coalition, Lunch4Learning
Food Justice is the act of communities exercising their right to grow, sell, and eat healthy food. Healthy food is fresh, nutritious, affordable, culturally appropriate, and grown locally with care for the well being of the land, workers, and animals. People practicing food justice leads to a strong local food system, self-reliant communities, and a healthy environment.
RYTF’s transformative Food Justice work began as a response to the widespread damage to the Rockaway peninsula after Superstorm Sandy, resulting in the shuttering of many small stores and supermarkets. Lack of healthy food options in the wake of this destruction – particularly for lower income families and individuals in the community – prompted RYTF members to develop sustainable solutions for access to locally grown, low-cost fresh produce that could be easily available to residents. The result was the successful launching of a youth-led Farmers Market and the building of one of the largest youth-run Community Garden on and empty half-acre lot secured through the NYC Parks Department.
Goal # 1:
The Rockaway Youth Task Force continues to grow and sustain one of the cities largest youth led Urban Farm & Community Garden. RYTF’s staff is committed to securing resources to ensure that the space will be maintained and is able to provide healthy food to the community in addition to being a space for food justice education.
Goal # 2:
Job Training & Economic Development. The RYTF Urban Farm and Community Garden provides a space for residents to grow their own food. RYTF provides training to members to educate the community on growing produce. In addition, the Youth Market, a weekly farmers market jointly host with Grow NYC serves to influence the economic development of the Rockaways. RYTF will also look into creating business partnerships will local restaurants to provide more fresh and locally grown food to the c
Issue: To end discriminatory policing practices that target youth and young adults of color
Campaign: Police Accountability Project
Allies/Partners: 101st Precinct Community/ Council, Communities United for Police Reform
Police accountability involves holding both individual police officers, as well as law enforcement agencies responsible for effectively protecting our communities. Fighting for reforms that will promote community safety while ensuring that the NYPD protects and serves our communities.
RYTF organizers have the ability to respond rapidly – through direct action and media commentary – to issues and police actions that affect youth and young adults within the Rockaway community. At the same time, we work on long-term solutions that address the culture of policing and the policies that enforce it.
Increase Community and Police Relations. The Rockaway Youth Task Force is a campaign member of CPR, “an unprecedented campaign to end discriminatory policing practices in New York, bringing together a movement of community members, lawyers, researchers and activists to work for change. The partners in this campaign come from all 5 boroughs, from all walks of life and represent many of those most unfairly targeted by the NYPD. Together we’re fighting for reforms that will promote community safety while ensuring that the NYPD protects and serves all New Yorkers.”
Issue: Rockaway has poor public transportation
Campaign: Rockaway Public Transportation Improvement Project (RPT)
Partners/Allies: Pratt Center for Community Development
Transportation equity is a civil and human rights priority. Access to affordable and reliable transportation widens opportunity and is essential to addressing poverty, unemployment, and other equal opportunity goals such as access to good schools and health care services.
Goal # 1:
We are calling for the MTA to extend Q52 Bus service from its current terminus on Beach 67th street further east into Far Rockaway. This would provide faster service and a one-seat ride to over 61,00 Rockaway residents who currently only have local service on the Q22.
Goal # 2:
We are calling on the City of New York to ensure that the implementation of the city’s free shuttle ferry bus service residents of Far Rockaway. In 2016, RYTF campaigned for the extension of the free shuttle ferry bus service to Far Rockaway. In November 2016, the city responded positively and committed to extending the route. We will continue to advocate for the extension until it’s completion.
Campaign: Defend the Rock
The Rockaway Peninsula consists of neighborhoods that vary widely in affluence and available services. Despite the existence of these higher-income neighborhoods and popular tourist destinations, the Rockaways are a community facing many challenges. Gentrification of this oceanfront property has put many residents at risk of displacement due to rising rents and corporate developments.
To end displacement of people of color and to fight for the creation and preservation of affordable housing.
This program aims to supplement the college access program available to our high school members & organizers though the public education system. College Access works to prepare RYTF youth for a college career through college visits, application resources, and mentorship.
RYTF is a leader in youth development, youth engagement, and food justice. Our organization has been asked to speak about our work at venues across the United States and internationally. We also lead workshops and trainings to share our best practices with others. If you are interested in bringing RYTF to your organization or training, please contact Milan Taylor, firstname.lastname@example.org
During the summer, RYTF hosts a farmers market to bring our fresh produce to our community. We also offer a variety of weekly demonstrations at the farm. During the cooking demonstrations, we teach our community how to incorporate healthy recipes into their diet using uncommon foods like bok choy and rutabaga. We also offer demonstrations on composting to show our community how repurpose their refuse in a beneficial way. We are committed providing healthy food options to our community and educating our neighbors on healthy cooking and living techniques.