Connecting Youth Initiative

The Connecting Youth Initiative (CYI), is a community and school-based service developed in Columbia University’s Office of Government and Community Affairs. CYI serves youth and young adults, ages 16-24 in Northern Manhattan and portions of the Bronx, who are neither in school nor working. In addition, CYI participants may be:

  • Navigating re-entry to the community
  • Court involved
  • Aging out of foster care
  • Homeless

CYI's school-based model provides outreach to youth who are enrolled in school but chronically absent, truant and/or at-risk of dropout or aging out. We assist participants with re-engaging in educational activities and obtaining employment opportunities. CYI is also offering place-based services and workshops in West Harlem CBOs and Schools.

Program Offerings

CYI participants receive assistance with

  • Getting back on track for high-school completion in a NYC Department of Education public school
  • Referral to High School Equivalency programs to prepare for TASC (formerly known as GED) examination.
  • Referral to alternative school settings (such as DOE Transfer Schools, YABC programs, or Co-Op Tech and other vocational programs)
  • Enrollment or re-enrollment in a college or university.
  • Direct referral to workforce/employment skill development programs
  • Referral for job openings at Columbia University.
  • Resume writing and building
  • Assistance with job applications for positions outside of Columbia University
  • Mock job interviews

CYI grew out of the Outreach to Disconnected Youth required by Columbia University’s community benefits and services related to the Manhattanville Campus Expansion. We determined a need for more intentional program to provide participants with support for re-engaging in educational activities and obtaining employment opportunities. Through a targeted outreach and case management process CYI staff are able to reach young people who are in need and connect them to a variety of service providers.

    Qualifying Criteria

    • Age: 16-24 years old
    • Education Status: Currently not enrolled in school or enrolled but in danger of dropping out or aging out
    • Employment Status: Currently not working.
    • Residential Status-Lives in Zip Codes: 
      • Manhattan:10025, 10026, 10027, 10029, 10030, 10031, 10032, 10033, 10034, 10035, 10037, 10039, 10040, 
      • Bronx: 10451, 10454, 10455, 10474

    Staff Contacts

    Shaba R. Keys, Associate Vice President, Government and Community Affairs

    Henry Danner, LMSW, Senior Program Coordinator, Connecting Youth Initiative