The Good Life Philanthropic Youth Foundation (GLYF) is using the power of Hip-Hop culture to address the issue of poverty and youth violence in Syracuse. GLYF has been awarded $661,000 from the Central New York Regional Economic Council’s Alliance for Economic Inclusion Initiative to expand its currently operating “R.E.A.L. Success" Program, evolving it into the HipHop-preneurship Academy.
The genesis for the College's involvement with this initiative was the 2019 Commencement address given by Greg Boyle, S.J., the founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, who has spent the past 30 years working with former gang members through one of the largest and most successful gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry programs in the world.
Good Life will collaborate with Le Moyne College and Key Bank to create and implement a 2-generational model of its currently successful program to reinforce R.E.A.L. Success at home and extend concepts of entrepreneurship to both youth and their parents, expand and improve access to experiential training for youth and young adults through GLYF's Social Enterprises Program, and provide greater entrepreneurial training for youth through the launch of an Entrepreneurship Bootcamp.
“Hip-Hop is incredibly entrepreneurial in nature,” said Hasan “Dj Maestro “ Stephens, founder and executive director of Good Life and adjunct professor in Hip-Hop Studies at SUNY Cortland. “It’s about creating something from nothing, a story of how inner city youth turned innate talents into a multi-billion dollar industry. It seems fitting that we combine the culture that defines so many youth with the habits necessary to escape poverty.”
Le Moyne College and the GLYF will come together to form a valuable, transformational team, helping move the needle of poverty and facilitating economic participation for Syracuse's most disadvantaged youth and their families. Le Moyne brings resources to the program as well as business and management acumen, and will support and extend the resources needed to successful boot camp participants to start their own business - bridging many hurdles small business-potentials often run into - including providing access to legal services, accounting services, and assistance with creating business plans and documents. Due to its involvement with the community, Le Moyne expertise will help open doors to economic attainment and lifelong success, representing a multitude of connections and resources that otherwise may not ever be a possibility for these young adults.
"We are honored to be a partner in this innovative program, which will help introduce entrepreneurship to new audiences," said Jim Joseph, dean of the Madden School of Business at Le Moyne. "The Madden School, through the work of Keenan Center for Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Creativity, is a vital part of the upstate New York entrepreneurship ecosystem, and the R.E.A.L. Success Program will be an exciting new element in these efforts."
KeyBank will utilize its "Business Boost & Build Program, Powered by JumpStart" initiative to direct its role as a Bootcamp sponsor. Business Boost & Build is designed to stimulate economic growth and workforce development by fostering small business success in communities throughout Ohio and upstate New York. This program will expand small business lending resources to GLYF youth and their families while also acting as a source and supporting provider of entrepreneurship training and expertise. Key Bank Boost and Build, in partnering with The Good Life Youth Foundation in their HipHop-preneurship Academy, will be providing technical assistance and support to youth and their parents who aspire to be entrepreneurs.
Overall, the program works to reverse the seemingly inevitable cycle of poverty. It positively impacts some of Syracuse's most vulnerable, disenfranchised, and underserved youth - breaking down barriers to economic participation and attainment. The target youth for the program are resource-deficient, oftentimes living in environments plagued by violence and crime. The Good Life mitigates the status quo of where these children will end up; the organization creates access to knowledge and information not received at home or in school, entrepreneurial opportunities to alleviate financial need, and builds the foundation for life-long fulfillment. The measurable outcomes of this good work include participants' ability to obtain reputable jobs and maintain gainful employment long after leaving the program. They become active and engaged citizens. With support from AEI, these youth will access resources for success that they never would have otherwise - they will truly and sustainably be given the chance at 'economic inclusion'.
By bringing the youth, community and youth service stakeholders, parents and all other interested stakeholders together Good Life and its partners look to start the work of real change. Central to this approach however, is using Hip-Hop to bridge connection to at-risk youth, to move from opportunity to access while introducing understanding and skill-sets necessary to influence meaningful change in the lives of the youth, and those charged with leading them.
About: Good Life Philanthropic Youth Foundation
Good Life Youth Foundation utilizes Hip-Hop culture as a bridge to opportunity, understanding and real transferable skills. The Life Skills and Life Coaching component is designed to allow youth to build meaningful connections with young adults that care about their success, while helping them design, implement and execute a personal plan for success. Financial Literacy curriculum gives youth a sense of responsibility, understanding of money management, hope and actionable steps to remove themselves from poverty. The Entrepreneurship curriculum helps improve academic performance, and draws a R.E.A.L. connection between life experience and opportunity with the education received in SCSD, while opening the doors for the possibility of becoming young entrepreneurs.