2011 Youth Speak Out on Education Conference

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On Tuesday, May 10th, hundreds of youth attended the  7th Annual Youth Speak Out on Education Conference held at New York University’s Kimmel Hall and presented by The Children’s Aid Society, The Department of Education and The Audrey Miller Poritzky Education Fund for Children. This year's conference theme was “Preparing Students in Transition to Succeed in College.” Middle and high school students from throughout New York City and Children’s Aid community centers and schools came together to present their research on issues affecting the academic success of students in transitional housing.

The event opened with welcoming and inspirational remarks by Elayna Konstan, Executive Officer, Office of Youth Development, and Susana Vilardell, Director of Students in Transitional Housing Programs of the New York City Department of Education, and New York Ranger Adam Graves. As in the past, the youth presented their topics and solutions using power point presentations, skits and poetry. Among the many academic obstacles faced by students in transitional housing, the ones touched upon at the conference included inadequate spaces to study or do homework because of overcrowding, loss of supplemental academic services and programs due to budget cuts and strict curfews at shelters that prevent teens from visiting colleges. One very moving presentation was given by Angel from Children’s Aid's Dunlevy Milbank Center, who spoke about the importance of peer mentoring and extended day services in the life of students in transitional housing. He said that too often he sees “kids hitting each other instead of hitting the books” and that “these programs help unleash talents.” Speaking of his own journey, he believes that these programs give children in transition the opportunity to be a kid.

This year the conference presented two Q&A panels, one featuring college students who were successful while in transitional housing or facing issues with immigration. This first panel discussion was moderated by Toure, host of FUSE Network’s”Hip Hop Shop” and “On The Record with FUSE.” The second panel included The Children’s Aid Society’s very own President and CEO, Richard R. Buery, Jr., along with Anthony Orzo, Deputy CEO, Office of School and Youth Development, New York City Department of Education. Both panelists shared their personal stories about the obstacles they had to overcome and advice on how to stay focused on the road to college. Mr. Buery, who was one of the few residents of his block in East New York to go to college, credits his education for his success today.

Please visit our complete Youth Speak Out Photo Gallery.