ALP is unique as it not only fosters personal development, but it also encourages youth to work towards the development of their community. ALP exposes youth to their history and to contemporary issues facing the Black community. At the same time, ALP teaches the critical thinking skills needed to analyze issues, instills the leadership skill, and promotes the self-confidence needed to tackle the issues facing their communities.
Student attendance is mandatory to maintain membership in ALP. We work closely with parents to keep students on pace with the demands of ALP as well as their school work. ALP recruits a new cohort of students every 24 months. The program operates year round for 12 to 24 months (Rising seniors experience one year of the program, while rising juniors experience two years). During year one, the program coordinator and alumni lead all the training modules. During year two, the students practice what they have learned by leading all of the modules. The program modules are detailed below:
To supplement the formal school education of its members, ALP brings in lecturers that focus on the African Diasporan experience. Every Sunday during the school year, ALP provides weekly classes where students meet and learn from some of the prestigious Black scholars and activists in the New York City area. Lecture topics include, but are not limited to, Community Development, Sociology, Surveys of Political and Social Movements, Professional Development, Entrepreneurship, and Health and Wellness.
Past lecturers include:
Yosef Ben-Jochannan (African Historian)
Dr. John Henrik Clarke (African Historian)
Naomi Simms (International Model, Entrepreneur, & Humanitarian)
Jamal Joseph (Ex-Black Panther & Founder of youth performance ensemble, IMPACCT)
Dr. Camille Yarborough (Children's author, Professor of African-American Studies)
Sister Genie Baines (African-American Family Studies)
Dr. Lenworth Gunther (Professor of African American History)
Dr. R. L’Heureux Lewis (Professor of Sociology)
During the summer months, ALP conducts weekly book discussions. Students are required to read and analyze some of the autobiographies, historical accounts, novels, and plays that cover different elements of the Black experience (i.e. Things Fall Apart, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, When I was Puerto Rican).
Every other month during the first year, ALP provides a tranquil setting for constructive and thoughtful interaction. ALP members leave the city for a weekend (Friday evening to Sunday afternoon) and hold discussions and workshops on topics that are relevant to young black people today. Additionally, the retreats include public speaking and debate activities where youth develop communication skills. Each weekend is organized around a theme that reflects an aspect of leadership, such as "Excellence", "Respect", and "Male/Female Dynamics". Retreats are directed by the ALP Coordinator with the assistance of senior ALP alumni. Retreats are intense, yet rewarding, with students putting in 30 hours of work/participation during a retreat.
At least once a year, the cohort makes visits to select colleges and universities throughout the New England and mid-Atlantic regions. These visits enable members to witness the demands of college life and to learn more about the differences among visited schools. This will aid members in making more informed choices about their educations. Students are often hosted by ALP alumni who work at the schools or are current students. Some of our frequently visited schools are Wesleyan University, Brown University, and City College New York.
Drawing on the vast offerings of New York City’s cultural life, the group attends a variety of cultural events that are of particular interest to those of the African Diaspora. Past groups have experienced performances by the Alvin Ailey Dance Troupe, works by noted black playwrights, and exhibits at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art (founded by 1993 ALP alumna, Laurie Cumbo).
Community Engagement Projects
ALP members are required to design a comprehensive community engagement project where she or he gives of her or his time and talent to help those that are in need. This is not a simple community service project, we work diligently to connect student with non-profit organizations, which exposes them to professional networks. In their second year, ALP participants put on a youth community development fair where students and families attend and learn about opportunities to change their communities through local service. Projects include voter registration drives, volunteering in a local hospital, and partnering with other community development programs.
Recognizing the importance of parental involvement, the group conducts quarterly parent/student meetings where members and their parents are invited to discuss the progress of the group in an open forum. This provides the parents with an opportunity to witness students’ mastery of program learning targets. In addition, parents periodically participate in field trips. Each year, the parents also organize a fundraiser for the group to help defray program costs.