Teens head to state capital to advocate for more after school funds

A group of teenagers from Kingsbridge made their way to Albany to advocate for more funding for a local after-school program.
Star Browder is a member of the Youth Leadership Council at the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center and is a high school graduate planning to pursue a social work and business degree. She credits the after-school program at KHCC for helping her figure out her dreams.
“They really helped [me] find myself, they helped me a lot,” said Browder. “Freshman year, lord knows, I was lost, 14, not knowing what I wanted to do."
Ayonna DeJesus is a 2024 graduate of that after-school program, and she and Browder were a part of the group of teens who made their way to the state capital last month to ask lawmakers for help to keep their program up and running.
“Right now, we are losing funding for that program, which breaks my heart because that’s where I started out in,” said DeJesus. “I didn’t know what advocating was until coming to KHCC, and they taught me to stand up for myself and what I believe in.”
KHCC’s after-school program offers social activities, sex education, and mental health screenings – all things that teen program director Derwin Greene says are crucial to helping these kids stay on the right path.
The community center is now looking into foundations and federal grants to help keep their program running the way it should to help those in the neighborhood pursue a bright future.