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Category Archives: B-READY 2014-2015

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Thank You Jeremy!

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SSYP’s Mass Promise Fellow Jeremy Kazanjian-Amory with new high school graduate Michael Cordero.

St. Stephen’s Youth Programs could not be happier with the hard work and major accomplishments of Jeremy Kazanjian-Amory this year! His contributions — career panels, mentoring pairs, new partnerships, college visits, service projects, and leadership development — have helped NINETEEN seniors graduate from high school with solid plans for the future. With his encouragement, many other teens in our programs have begun to imagine their paths to success! THANK YOU, JEREMY! #PromiseFellowWeek, #ThankAFellow!


Fostering The Next Generation of Musicians

Music Panel“Be true to yourself above all else,” was a common theme heard during the Music Career Panel recently held at St. Stephen’s Youth Programs as part of our S2POT Program. Teens listened to speakers from a variety of musical professionals talk about their personal journeys. What became clear early on was not only how much passion the panelists have for music, but also how central music is in the lives of our teens.

The panel was made up of individuals from very different areas in the musical world. Jeeyoon Kim who is a current Mass Promise Fellow at Zumix, spoke about her experiences as a DJ and web director for WERS 88.9FM, as the program director for WECB: The Underground Sound of Emerson College, and as a contributor and community manager for a local online publication, Allston Pudding. DeeJay Daz One, a local DJ spoke about his journey in the arts, first as a dancer, then a singer, then an emcee and now as one of Boston’s biggest deejays. He says his role in music is to bridge the gap between popularity and purpose, and to teach the next generation how to be accepted just by being themselves. Finally, brothers Dante and Denzel Patterson spoke about their experiences. Dante has been in the music industry for four years doing marketing and management, and helped bring the first Boston Hip Hop stage to the A36 Hip Hop Fest in Atlanta last year. His brother Denzel, aka “FlyBoiDizzy,” spoke about his career as a rapper. FlyBoiDizzy credited a lot of his success to perseverance, and not taking no for an answer.

The panelists’ stories and experiences — including triumphs and failures — captivated the teens, who were able to ask questions and get valuable advice. They heard about how to market themselves as artists, the importance of developing business skills, and the importance of traveling and experiencing as much as possible.

The panel was a huge success, and we look forward to bringing these panelists back to speak to other teens in the future. Our next career panel on Social Justice will take place on June 10th, at St. Stephens.

Posted by: Jeremy Kazanjian-Amory, College and Career Program Coordinator

B-ready Kids Visit Frederick Douglass And Harriet Tubman

IMG_0852This year’s B-READY Media Arts class has been all about the history of social justice in the Americas. We recently took advantage of the gorgeous springtime weather to check out local memorials to two abolitionists we’ve been studying: Fredrick Douglass and Harriet Tubman.

For our Lower Roxbury students, this meant a trip the edge of Douglass Park to see a sidewalk medallion with a quote from Fredrick Douglass: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” Here, one of our teen Counselors-In-Training remarked that she lives within view of the memorial and had never noticed it before. Then we went to the corner of Hammond and Tremont IMG_0855Streets to see a large mural of Douglass with a quote from his visit to Boston.

Our South End students visited the Harriet Tubman memorial. Here, it was my turn to see something I had never noticed before. One of the students pointed out that the sculptor had included a scar across Tubman’s forehead. “Is that where the man hit her with the weight?” she asked, remembering the stories told in class the previousweek (and providing one of those wonderful moments that makes teaching at SSYP so rewarding). Posted by John Dwyer, Media Arts Specialist


Friends Of Ramsay Park Kick Off A Summer of Action

On Saturday, more than10405384_477936565709024_233524735128358965_n 150 people gathered in Ramsay Park (across the street from our year-round program site at the Church of St. Augustine & St. Martin) for a Memorial Day weekend block party. The event which kicked off the summer was the first of many social, cultural, and athletic events the group plans to host in the park.
Neighbors enjoyed hamburgers and hotdogs served by young people from Lenox’s Julia Butler Youth and Family Center and cooked by an expert grill crew that included Fr. Evan Thayer of St. A&M, Fr. Julian Fredie of St. Cyprian’s, Pastor Ron Verna of Crosstown Church, and Juanita, a long-time friend of Ramsay Park. Kids including current B-READY students and future B-SAFE campers played soccer and foursquare, hula-hooped, and shot baskets. Families enjoyed frozen treats from the We Bring It To You ice cream truck which had set up shop in the park for the day. People from all over the neighborhood came together to dance, eat and play in their park.

At the end of the day, everyone was clamoring for this to be a regular happening in Ramsay Park. To make this hope a reality, the next Friends of Ramsay Park Meeting will be held on Wednesday June 10th at 6:30pm at 31 Lenox Street (Church of St. Augustine and St. Martin). Food and childcare will be provided and all are welcome to participate. On the agenda will be planning future fun events in the park, including sports and health-care related activities in July and August, and advocating to gain more resources for Ramsay Park so it can be filled it with positive activities this summer and beyond.

To be a Friend of Ramsay Park or get involved in event planning there, please email

 Posted by Sarah O’Connor, Lower Roxbury Community Organizer, JOIN Fellow

“Life is About Relationships.”

20150423_170342The title of this blog is borrowed from a phrase a mentor of mine says all the time. “Life is about relationships,” is a phrase I’ve always kept in mind and paid attention to, but it struck me as particularly apt when we were in Marshall, North Carolina, meeting many new people and places.

It became clear to me from the very beginning of the trip, that it was about building relationships, just as much as it was about new experiences and service. When we had breakfast with folks at Holy Spirit in Mars Hill, I was reminded about the particular hospitality that a relationship with God or a church fosters. When we were welcomed at our worksite by June and Jake from the Community House Coalition, I was struck by the instant camaraderie that a common goal and mission build.
As we spent our week with Che and Devin, I was reminded of the joy and gratitude that comes with intentionally learning about someone and letting them learn about you.  Our week with Che and Devin was noting short of awe inspiring.  They way we were welcomed into their family and they way we welcomed them into ours, made the week all that much more special. Che shared with us her love and knowledge of the earth — telling different teens about plants with healing properties. Devin shared with us his love of jumping on trampolines and sugary sodas.  We shared our willingness to work, to learn an to welcome them into our hearts.
Submitted by Meg McDermott, School and Community Organizer

Senior Spotlight: Nelisha Carrasquillo

NelishaWith a passion for the outdoors and pursuing her own dreams of studying ecology, Nelisha will be heading to Sterling College in Craftsbury, Vermont on a full scholarship. As one of the leading voices in higher education for environment stewardship, Sterling College offers Nelisha a really unique opportunity to utilize nature as a classroom. Nelisha says she was drawn to the one-on-one attention that students get at Sterling, both by teachers and advisors. She is also really excited to have classes that focus more on the outdoors then on textbooks, and to be in a new environment where she will be able to meet a diverse group of new people. When asked how she thinks St. Stephen’s has helped prepare her to be successful, Nelisha said “In more ways than one. Blake, my mentor was always there to keep me focused on school and my grades so that I could be successful after.” Nelisha has a wonderful sense of adventure and is thrilled with the opportunity to be able to test a new environment and venture away from home. Kasey and I both are so excited for Nelisha, and can’t wait to hear about all the adventures that Nelisha will be having in Vermont. We just hope she doesn’t forget to send us a postcard or two.

Posted By: Jeremy Kazanjian-Amory, College and Career Program Coordinator

Senior Spotlight: Leatrae Gooding

Leatrae Gooding“It will help me conquer the world,” said Leatrae Gooding when asked about how he thinks Year Up will help him achieve his goals. Trae is a one of a kind personality, who is driven by his passion for creating his own legacy in the music and business world. Next year he will be participating in the Year Up program, a one year bridge program that combines six months of professional development and a six month paid internship with classes at Cambridge College. This unique program allows for students to be able to learn all the tools they need to be successful in the business world with a dual enrollment program at Cambridge College, where the students can choose between the Business Management or Informational Technology program.

With the dreams of starting his own Sneaker Exchange Company, Trae is excited to pursue a business management degree while also learning how to navigate the professional world. He is most excited about “being able to learn, not only about school but how to be successful in life.” He credits Jeremy Kazanjian-Amory and Kasey Boston as two people who have helped prepare him for the next step, and says that the most recent BRIDGE trip to North Carolina was a transformative experience that helped humble and ground him. Trae is pumped about this next opportunity, and I am personally excited to see how he can take advantage of this amazing program.

Posted By: Jeremy Kazanjian-Amory, College and Career Program Coordinator