Photo Credit: COJO Flatbush
COJO Flatbush SYEP Teen Program participants administer CPR to mannequins.

With summer fast coming to an end, COJO Flatbush can look back on yet another year as a prime mover in New York City’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) – and on successfully implementing a new element of that program.

The city’s Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) this year issued a major challenge to SYEP partner agencies, asking that each one develop a new approach to serving the 14 and 15 year olds participating in their program. Rather than placing these youngsters in work settings, DYCD asked that they be guided through an experience of career exploration, work skill development, and project-based learning.


COJO Flatbush developed two curricula which met DYCD’s demanding standards, one focusing on the food service and nutrition industry, the other exploring the healthcare sector.

The six-week program prepared students for workplace responsibilities with classroom presentations and teamwork-building events. The healthcare program, for example, featured an emphasis on emergency treatment and collaborative response, with classes that ranged from CPR and Heimlich-maneuver training to the dangers of smoking and vaping. More than 350 teens participated through the auspices of COJO Flatbush.

“Our participants,” said Zev Stein, COJO Flatbush SYEP YY Coordinator, “feel a great sense of accomplishment and gain new confidence when they can walk away from the program with skills such as working on a project successfully with other team members, the ability to save people in emergency situations due to their training in CPR, and hands-on experience with the concept of food security by rehabilitating a plot of land and cultivating it for growing food.”

“It’s very rewarding as a facilitator,” he added, “to watch these young people find new talents within themselves and contemplate a broader world full of career opportunities.”