Impact Investing

Newest Cohort of Aspen Young Leaders Fellows Ready to Reshape Newark

March 9, 2017  • Youth Leadership Programs

In partnership with Rutgers University-Newark and Newark Public Schools, the Aspen Young Leaders Fellowship (AYLF) welcomes 20 Newark youth to The Aspen Institute’s Youth & Engagement Programs family. Drawing from local public, private, and charter high schools, universities, and the workforce, the Newark cohort of AYLF Fellows is diverse, dynamic, talented, and eager to lead the change they want to see in Newark.

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AYLF Newark Fellows will convene for the first time at Rutgers University-Newark on March 17, but the group isn’t waiting until then to make their feelings know about how they plan to change Newark.

Here are are some of AYLF Newark Fellows’ responses to how they would solve a problem facing their community:

“Newark has the potential to be a great city, and with everyone’s participation and endurance, we can make a difference in our community… The amount of violence [in Newark] needs to be put to rest. Young children’s lives are being taken before they even get a chance to live them. [In order to solve this], I would create programs and job opportunities for young children…to get them off the streets… We need to uplift our young people and…tell them that no matter what situation they are in, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. We need to let them know [that]…with hard work and determination, you can accomplish anything you put your mind to.”

“There [are] a lot of drugs and killing going around [in] my area. Drugs are…not just killing people, [they’re] killing families. I want to be a cop to stop the drugs in my community.”

“One recurring issue in my community is the lack of guidance for the youth. Without guidance and support, the youth get into a lot of mischief and mayhem. Some kids are harmed in places they shouldn’t be, and others deal with internal conflict that can lead to detrimental actions. To change this in my city, [I would] refurbish original recreation centers that kept youth busy and out of trouble when I was younger.”

“The lack of opportunities to grow outside of the classroom has been a prominent issue that I have observed in the Newark community. Throughout my life growing up in Newark, I have witnessed many children including myself struggle to live up to their full potential because of the lack of opportunity to discover their talents. In other wealthy communities, there are after-school programs where children can participate in robotics, business clubs…the arts, and social activities…allowing children to be more confident about themselves [and] build a positive self-image. However, in Newark, I have witnessed a lack of strong social, cultural and educational unity. [To solve this problem], I would connect with a variety of professionals and corporations to speak with the youth of Newark to show them that there is more to life than what they are exposed to right now. Mentorship and guidance are critical to building a strong foundation.”

The Newark cohort of AYLF Fellows displays empathy, compassion, and dedication to lives of service. This much is evidenced by their mission statements.

“My passions are helping people and and making the world we live in a better place. There are many issues we face in society today, and anything I can do on my part to make it better, I will. Any little thing that can make the world we live in better matters. My long term goal is to especially make my home, the city of Newark a better and safer place to live in. By working hard, it is very possible.”

“To constantly strive to be the best version of myself that I can be and never give up even when things seem to hard to bear. I want to never lose sight of what is most important to me and always fight for what I believe in. I want to live a life of positivity and inspire those around me through a quiet and inner strength.”

“My mission is to give back to the community by creating my own foundation, where I could empower leadership, academic, and professional [growth] in the youth to help them follow their dreams.”

 “I have always had a passion for doctors. I love to help others. Seeing people happy, makes me happy, pushes me to be and do better. With that being said, the medical field, yes, is difficult, but it involves all of the things I love and I am passionate about.”

“My personal mission statement is to always strive to evolve and better myself through uplifting and supporting those around me.”

“I always tell myself to defy labels, as i am not what society wishes me to be. I am an independent, strong, and unique person, who wants to be an attorney, in order to make a difference, and make a significant impact on my community.”

Meet the 2017 Aspen Young Leaders Fellowship Newark Fellows

  • Rasheed Adewole (17), Marion P. Thomas Charter School
  • Laïssa Alexis (18), Wellesley College
  • Dante Apaestegui (18), Rutgers University-Newark
  • Stephanie Avila (19), Rutgers University-Newark
  • Nefertia Bratcher (17), Marion P. Thomas Charter School
  • Dyllan Brown-Bramble (20), Rutgers University-Newark
  • Shakiya Chance (18), Technology High School
  • Anthony Conte (20), Rutgers University-Newark
  • Erika Dominguez (18), Science Park High School
  • Alexis Mathieson (17), Bard High School Early College Newark
  • Joshua Owusu-Gyimah (20), Rutgers University-Newark
  • Dionysus Rodriguez (19)
  • Claudia Saavedra (20), Rutgers University-Newark
  • Bradley Tapia (18), Rutgers University-Newark
  • Kevin Thomas (18), Fast Track Success Academy
  • Joshua Toler (19), Fast Track Success Academy
  • Onyx Turpin (18), North Star Academy College Preparatory High School
  • Brenda Velarde (17), Saint Vincent Academy
  • Angeles Vivanco (20), Rutgers University-Newark
  • Xi’Asia Wright (18), Weequahic High School