Please list all of your extracurricular activities with any anticipated extracurricular involvement for Fall 2016.
One Bed-Stuy man is responsible for putting over 500 Brooklyn teens out on the streets, but not in the way you might be thinking.
Barnabas Shakur, 31, has been a resident of the Brooklyn neighborhood for over 20 years, and has
witnessed firsthand its slow but steady progression from a gang-heavy ghetto to an increasingly safe,
family-friendly community. In fact, he was an integral part of that process.
Thanks to the volunteer-based nonprofit organization Shakur founded in 2001, Project Re-Generation, Brooklyn teens are trading in guns and drugs for brooms and mops. Through Project Re-Generation's
innovative Foot Soldiers program, hundreds of teens have hit the streets every day after school to sweep neighboring homeowners' stoops and sidewalks, clean their yards, and take out their trash.
The teens' active involvement in their community's restoration and beautification has not only helped
create a cleaner and safer Brooklyn, but has helped bridge the gap between the old and new generations of Brooklynites and the two disparate kinds of Bed-Stuy residents -- black low-income families and
middle-class young couples and professionals -- that have come to, somewhat awkwardly, co-exist in
Bed-Stuy over the past ten years.
"I wouldn't say we're responsible for the positive way Bed Stuy's changed over time," Shakur tells
The Huffington Post in an interview. "But we've definitely created something that inspires the next
generation to be better, and teaches our kids by example. It's more than just a cleaning service."
Shakur adds that initiatives like the Foot Soldiers program are almost necessary in previously gang-heavy neighborhoods such as Bed-Stuy, where reckless behavior among teenagers -- including smoking, drinking, taking drugs and premature sexual activities -- still earns them street respect. Foot Soldiers, which was
established in 2005 and is just one of many volunteer-run programs the nonprofit offers, refocuses the teens' after-school energies and activities from destructive to productive.
Though the teens are paid "wages" for their services (between $4.50 and $8.33 three times a week), the thousands of other Brooklyn residents who have donated their time, energy and efforts to the organization and its various programs and events are unpaid.
Over 5,000 collective volunteers across the borough have enabled PR-G to operate since its inception. From professionals who offer pro-bono legal services, to those who donate their teaching skills (PR-G also offers free, after-school tutoring), to volunteers who make up the crew leaders and supervisors of Foot
Soldiers, Shakur says the organization's success relies on the generosity of the wider community.
"These guys have been doing great things for the community, and in return, the community does great things for them back," says long-time Bed-Stuy resident Anita Parker, who lives on Lafayette Avenue and Tompkins Street, just a few blocks down from PR-G's headquarters. "Everybody wins."
Just this Monday, PR-G launched an intensive campaign to generate new customers for Foot Soldiers. PR-G volunteers hit the streets on a block-by-block drive on a newly-launched Youth Employment Program. The program will reward Brooklyn homeowners by offering discounts to those blocks that collectively sign up for services. On blocks where at least 10 homeowners sign up, PR-G will provide services for 50 percent off, and on blocks where fewer sign up, homeowners will receive 10 percent off.
Who are the people that comprise the Bed-Stuy community? What issue does Project Re-Generation seek to address in Bed-Stuy? What opportunities does Project Re-Generation offer Brooklyn teens? What is Project Re-Generation’s long term impact listed in the article? What are other ways that the Bed-Stuy community might benefit from Project Re-Generation?
Please respond to these questions in an essay of 200 words or less.