The Phillips Brooks House Association’s Leaders! program provides 95 teens from Boston and Cambridge with full-time teaching and mentoring for 10 weeks during the summer and engages 25 of those same teens in intensive college access, mentoring, and leadership development during the school year.
Leaders! is wholly committed to the agency of its young people. Its model is not only about service, it is about empowering young people to serve others. While other programs develop youth as leaders through skill-building workshops, Leaders!’s youth develop leadership skills through service-learning and teaching, a hands-on, meaningful application of skills like facilitation, public speaking, and curriculum design. Since each teen is a member of the community they are serving, Leaders! builds off the knowledge they already have of their communities to increase the capacity of those communities to serve themselves.
Each summer, 90 teens serve as Junior Counselors – full-time teacher’s aides and role models – in one of PBHA’s 10 neighborhood-based Summer Urban Program camps. Each teen is paired with a college student to develop a seven-week curriculum focusing on literacy, math, and community history. Teens co-teach a class of 10 children, supervise field trips and community service projects, and participate in leadership workshops designed by the teens themselves and facilitated by the Leaders! directors.
The majority of our Leaders once attended the same camp in which they work, and nearly all have grown up in the neighborhoods served by their camp. For many, the Junior Counselor position is their first job and/or opportunity to cultivate a sense of community responsibility and leadership skills.