Good Life Foundation Uses Hip Hop and Youth Culture Engage Youth in Syracuse
It’s not always easy to have a conversation with youth -- let alone those in poverty – about a positive future. The Good Life Youth Foundation in Syracuse is touting some of its success by using an approach that engages kids in their ‘cultural language.’
Hasan Stephens, founder of Good Life Youth Foundation said it is important to understand youth very well.
“The way in which we are utilizing hip hop and youth culture to engage youth. The way in which we are asking youth what they need and not telling them what they need, that’s the solution to work with the top 1 percent of youth that are facing challenges in Syracuse,” said Stephens
He said kids from some of Syracuse’s areas with the highest levels of poverty and incarceration face a lot of struggles. This struggles are directly related to their surroundings in some of the lowest income areas.
“They are doing it because they are in need, they are doing it because they are hungry. Poverty is also affecting them from a cultural aspect because they are in an environment that has been shaped by poverty, segregation and marginalization. So whatever outcome and things that we see in the community are direct by-products of that.”
Stephens said the outcomes of their work include turning three of Syracuse’s zip codes with the highest levels of youth committing repeat crimes, into some of the lowest in a year-and-a-half. The goal is to fight poverty and incarceration through teaching entrepreneurship around industries that interest youth.
“We have a young lady that is a photographer and graduate from the program and she now travels from Atlanta to Syracuse back and forth and has done photography for some of the biggest artists in the industry. So whenever kids get to graduate and become entrepreneurs we love that as a success,” said Stephens
The Good Life Foundation is funded by a mix of state, local and school district program grants, as well as revenue from its own printing operation. Stephens spoke at Syracuse University’s Thursday Morning Roundtable.