The program, run by ICA's program director Faudia Baijnauth and program coordinator, Vedesh Persaud, is a one-year pilot program combining mentoring with academic support, social guidance and career exploration.
The mentors were honored at the Queens Museum of Art. They include Shivika Rajkisore, a teacher, Yuri Mohan, a life insurance agent, and Farah Husain, a physician's assistant.
The ICA will relaunch the program in January as the Youth Leadership Program. The pilot phase worked with 13 students and nine mentors, and used a combination of one-on-one and group mentoring.
“We had a lot of success including students returning to school after missing years, students successfully writing scholarships for college, doing community service, exploring various careers and developing an understanding of Indo-Caribbean culture and history,” said Richard David, executive director of ICA.
The program works with several schools in Queens, but most of the students who benefited from the program hailed from John Adams, Richmond Hill and Thomas Edison high schools.
“We started the program because our high schools were failing and our students, especially some recent immigrants, were falling through the cracks,” David added. “We also wanted these kids to have access to information and programs that are available in other communities, but not enough in South Queens.”
David said ICA made it its duty to involve many stakeholders to get the program functioning effectively, including teachers, social workers and residents.
The program was funded by small donations from residents, Citibank and a discretionary grant from councilmen Ruben Wills and Eric Ulrich.
“We are proud of the outcomes,” he said.