A Head Start on TV Careers, With the Garden as a Lab

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Moses McRae and Jazmyn Benjamin, both 15, were at Madison Square Garden, where workers, officials and athletes served as interview subjects and mentors to the students.

The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund recently featured this Children’s Aid story, written by Vincent M. Mallozzi, about Moses McRae and Jazmyn Benjamin and their recent opportunity to interview workers, officials and athletes at Madison Square Garden. Below is an excerpt from the original article.

Last month at Madison Square Garden, Moses McRae, 15, conducted an interview with Danilo Gallinari of the Knicks:

“Who do you think are the toughest opponents in the league?” Moses asked Mr. Gallinari, a 6-foot-10-inch forward, shortly before a game against the Atlanta Hawks.

“There are many tough opponents,” Mr. Gallinari said. “But I would have to say that Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are two of the toughest.”

Moses, a sophomore at the High School for Environmental Studies in Manhattan, is studying television production — but not in high school. He is one of 10 children from low-income communities who are taking part in Hope Leadership Academy, which is run by the Children’s Aid Society, one of the seven agencies supported by The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund.

“My interview strategy was to memorize as many questions as possible and to write some key words down on paper to help me remember questions I might have forgotten to ask,” Moses said after the interview, which he conducted along with Jessica Gooden, 15, a student at Frederick Douglass Academy II in Harlem, where she lives.

Since 2007, Hope Leadership Academy has worked with the Garden of Dreams Foundation to form the MSG Classroom program, which teaches children about jobs in television, including announcing, producing, directing and creating graphics.

The students use Madison Square Garden as their laboratory, and Garden employees and officials, as well as athletes — from the Knicks, the Rangers, the Liberty, MSG Entertainment and the music channel Fuse — serve as interview subjects and mentors.

“This has been an extremely successful partnership,” said Michael Roberts, assistant division director for adolescent services at the Children’s Aid Society. “This is a very unique program, because it is not just about giving something to a child to help out in an immediate crisis, but these are real-world skills these children are learning, skills that will help them find jobs in the future.”

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Photo courtesy of Earl Wilson for The New York Times