PBHA's Leaders! provides teens from Boston and Cambridge with full-time teaching and mentoring during the summer and college access, mentoring, and leadership development during the term.
Samir Damji, Austin Dawson & David Gutierrez
The Phillips Brooks House Association’s Leaders! program provides 95 teens from Boston and Cambridge with full-time teaching and mentoring for 10 weeks during the summer and engages 25 of those same teens in intensive college access, mentoring, and leadership development during the school year.
Leaders! is wholly committed to empowering these teens by providing more than just workshops. Our program puts into practice these workshops through service-learning and teaching while also applying these skills like facilitation, public speaking, and curriculum design into their workplaces. It is this commitment of giving the teens the opportunity to take initiative and develop leadership skills that nicely complements PBHA’s mission of empowering the Greater Boston communities. Since each teen is a member of the community they are serving, Leaders! builds off the knowledge they already have of their communities to increase the capacity of those communities to serve themselves.
During the Summer
Each summer, 90 teens serve as Junior Counselors – full-time teacher’s aides and role models – in one of PBHA’s 10 neighborhood-based Summer Urban Program camps. Each teen is paired with a college student to develop a seven-week curriculum focusing on literacy, math, and community history. Teens co-teach a class of 10 children, supervise field trips and community service projects, and participate in leadership workshops designed by the teens themselves and facilitated by the Leaders! directors.
The majority of our Leaders once attended the same camp in which they work, and nearly all have grown up in the neighborhoods served by their camp. For many, the Junior Counselor position is their first job and/or opportunity to cultivate a sense of community responsibility and leadership skills. Our hope is that through our curriculum, the teens will want to take on a greater responsibility during the summer and demonstrate their unique capabilities. Most importantly, Leaders! hopes to bring about a generation of youth willing to speak up for themselves and their communities, take meaningful action towards improving their own lives, and to advocate solutions for issues affecting their communities.
In all, teens in Summer Leaders! receive 50 hours of training (including resume writing, interviewing, financial literacy, and college access), more than 200 hours of one-on-one mentoring, and 12 hours of group mentoring from college students.
During the School Year
Once the summer has ended, 25 of the Leaders are selected to take part in the school-year component of the program, designed to help them become change agents in their communities and prepare them for the future. The program helps them achieve their goals through:
- year long one-on-one mentoring, including homework help, individualized support plans, MCAS and SAT preparation, and college/career advising.
- leadership development and social justice empowerment curriculum.
- part-time placement (at least four hours per week) at a community service organization.
- responsibility for workshop facilitation, curriculum creation, and training for the next summer’s Leaders.