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.

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

Additionally, CYI partners with organizations to facilitate workshops on-site for their program participants. Workshop topics range from soft-skill such as communication and active listening to hard-skills such as resume building, and financial planning. If you are interested in bringing a workshop to your organization please get in touch with us.

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

    Henry Danner, LMSW, Director of Youth Initiatives, Government and Community Affairs