Wednesday, December 23, 2015

First Annual Osborn Street Plaza Tree Lighting

On December 11, 2015, the Brownsville Community Justice Center hosted the first event to unveil the Osborn Street Plaza to the Brownsville, Community. The Tree Lighting brought out over 100 families that enjoyed cookies and hot coca, music, crafts and pictures with Santa. The event included a toy give-a-way, with presents donated by Brownsville Ascend Charter School, located on Pitkin Avenue. Brownsville’s youngest residents from Brightside Daycare colored and decorated ornaments that adorned the tree. The night was made possible with a generous donation from Home Depot, who provided the tree.

Check out pictures below:
Santa and the Tree

Santa arrives!!

Brownsville Builder, Sydneta, handing out cookies

Santa handing out toys to all the good little boys and girls

Happy to see Santa!!

Face painting
Arts and Crafts

The Brownsville Community Justice Center would like to thank all of our community partners who helped make our first Tree Lighting a great success:

Community Affairs 73rd PCT
Community Board 16

Monday, December 14, 2015

Justice Community PLUS presents: "The Classic Man and Woman"

Justice Community Plus participants from Bedford Stuyvesant and Crown Heights were part of a phenomenal experience that included style, grace and professional mentoring.  As participants approached phase three of their programming, they began exploring career fields.  Aside from planning their own professional goals, participants sharpened work readiness skills such as workplace etiquette, thirty second elevator pitches, resume writing, team building, and dressing for success.

 Career Gear Staff Stylist Oscar J Prado, Director of Programs CG, Justice Community PLUS participants and
Tarisse Iriarte Community Engagement Specialist from the Brownsville Community Justice Center
To help the participants learn about workplace attire, the Brownsville Community Justice Center, the Justice Community PLUS program, Dress4Success, and Career Gear partnered to offer a one of a kind opportunity for participants.

Sheba is ready to work!
Career Gear is a New York-based non-profit organization designed to assist young men with professional opportunities by offering suits, personal and professional development, financial literacy and a wealth of other resources.  

Monty is a boss!

Marvin's shoes are cleeeaaann!!!
As a community partner, Career Gear has been one of the Brownsville Community Justice Center’s greatest supporters.  Our participants were not only  invited to take part in a media campaign with Defy Media called Made Men (using the hashtag #formalfriday to promote dressing up on Fridays rather than wearing casual wear), but they were also offered free suits and shoes!

Rashuni, an aspiring veterinarian, expressed how happy he was with his suiting experience. “I really like how they helped me match the suit…I feel confident wearing it…it feels good!”
Hannah is ready to take care of business!
Career Gear takes great care with each of the participants by providing them with an individualized fitting. Every shirt, tie, jacket, and pair of shoes is hand-selected by the participant and an on-site professional stylist.
Shaiiquan is envisioning what the view from his future office will look like.

Andre, an aspiring graphic designer/performer is pictured above wearing a Ferragamo suit that he said makes him feel like he could do anything.

Beyond introducing the professional aesthetic to participants, expanding their sense of identity to include "working professional" has become a pivotal point of their professional development. 

Charisma sporting her brand professional attire 
Actress Blake Lively once said “The most beautiful thing you can wear is confidence.” As we prepare our young people for a journey into the next phase of their lives, we are excited for them to bring these new found professional qualities of confidence with them into the classroom and the board room.

Sunday, October 25, 2015


When individuals mention Brownsville, their first thoughts might race towards violent crime and poverty. But, Brownsville is more than that. Brownsville is a growing community that is banning together to make their vibrant voices, ideas, and aspirations heard. 

Vacant lot before the construction of MGB Pops 
One way that Brownsville Justice Community is helping residents of Brownsville in uplifting the community is through the construction of innovative businesses, such as pop-up marketplaces. Brownsville Justice Community worked in collaboration with Community Solutions’ Brownsville Partnership, Ocean Hill Brownsville Neighborhood Improvement Association, and New York City’s Economic Development Corporation in the creation of MBG POPS, a seasonal pop-up marketplace that is located at 425 Mother Gaston Blvd.

The Grand Opening of the MGB Pops Lot
Placing contemporary vendors in the center of one of the most prominent streets in Brownsville goes far beyond improving local business attraction and profit making. MGB POPS is a pivotal example of what can be generated when investment and hope is combined with inspiration and community. This marketplace, holds as a positive example for all community members by showing that everyone has the potential to create their own business. MGB POPS is a place where they can share their talents, artistry, and passion.

Participants of the Brownsville Justice Community have assisted in the construction of MGB POPS while learning new hand-ons on skills. They are also further enhancing their entrepreneurship and employment skills by working with the Made In Brownsville vending booth that sells the t-shirts they inspired and helped to designed. 

Participants and with Quardean Lewis, Founder and Principle Designer, Made In Brownsville.

Made in Brownsville (MiB) Vending Booth

Participants also create positive influences by being visible and interacting with local community members, especially other local youth. Participants can recruit local youth to obtain employment and assist them in learning similar management and business skills. Increasing employment skills will then allow individuals to become more competitive in the workforce as they continue on their path towards their desired career.

The MGB Pops mural Justice Community Participants helped to paint.

Having a venue where a wide range of individuals can get together in one place allows for a great opportunity to network, and create connections that might be useful in the future. Since it is a seasonal marketplace, this also allows for a variety of new vendors and shoppers each year. The presence of new vendors will enhance the diversity of connections that can be established. Vendors and shoppers will be more likely to expand their presence into the community and gather in other positive spaces, such as in parks or plazas after becoming more connected through the marketplace. MBG POPS is also a great location where adults and youth can come together in a positive environment to share their ideas and skills. Getting adults to support youth and vice versa makes an even greater impact in uplifting the community by getting more individuals engaged and involved with change.

MGB POPS seeks to be an inspiration to create future marketplaces and lively venues where community residents can come together to have fun and create long lasting memories. Preserving the collaboration between community members and local agencies will help ensure that such projects and the value of Brownsville continues to prosper.

Be On Belmont

The Belmont Revitalization Project (The Project) is encouraging all Brownsville residents to Be On Belmont. 

Since its launch in 2014, the Belmont Revitalization Project has pushed forward revitalization on the corridor. Through consistent clean-up efforts, beautification projects and place-making activities, Belmont is beginning to regain the nostalgia it once had long ago. The Project has been working with city agencies, like the Department of Transportation and Small Business Services to improve and promote positive pedestrian activity and small business resources.

In collaboration with Department of Transportation and Small Business Services, The Justice Center hosted a series of street festivals once a month over 3 months. The "Be On Belmont" street festivals ran along Belmont Avenue between Rockaway Avenue and Watkins Street. The goals of the "Be On Belmont" street festivals were to help community residents re-imagine safe and pro-social activities possible along the corridor while simultaneously driving foot traffic to the businesses. 

The street festivals featured live performances, food, interactive cooking demonstrations, face painting, inflatable obstacle courses, resource information and much more and all free to the community. 

The Street Festivals engaged over 700 community residents over throughout the summer and fall months (Aug-Oct). Check out some highlights:

Giant Chess Set drew interest. 

Cooking Demonstration the Melting Pot. The chef made some delicious chili. 

Community Partner, The Brownsville Partnership, building tree pits and side walk seating.

3 Black Cats Cafe provided cupcake decorating demonstrations. 

Row of tents filled with different resources and activities.

Face and Body Art by Watoto Entertainment

DJ Fauzi kept the community dancing. 

Street Art

Brownsville Youth dancing on stage. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Justice Community PLUS Participants Become Agents of Change for Crown Heights and Bedford Stuyvesant

Justice Community PLUS’ 2nd cohort is in full swing right now!! After graduating twenty two participants last season, Justice Community Plus has continued to engage young adults from both Crown Heights & Bedford Stuyvesant in programming to assist them with essential tools to identify and secure permanent employment. 

Justice Community participants from Crown Heights, Bedford Stuyvesant, and Brownsville engage in mock interviews to prepare them for internships and future employment with Employment Specialist Jon Smith

Justice Community Plus members work closely with Brownsville Community Justice Center staff members Kayin Latson, Tarisse Iriarte and Jonathan Smith on work readiness topics such as workplace etiquette, dressing for success, “30 second” elevator pitches, resume writing, and team building. The group, who at times had reservations about meeting new people and “trying something new” have now gelled as a team and tend to encouraging each other through their development.  With workshops being facilitated twice a week at The College of New Rochelle Campus at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza and a third day of one on one individualized support, participants attain soft and hard vocational skills during their career exploration.

Justice Community Plus participants learn about “Go Green” energy employment opportunities with Green City

While working on basics skill sets that promote their viability as candidates for employment, participants have also volunteered with community partners on a host of events. The Chris Owens Foundation’s Back to School Event was a huge success as well as S.O.S. Crown Heights Safe Play Street & Book Bag giveaway.  

JCP members stocking bags with school supplies at the Chris Owens Foundation Back to School Event at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza
Justice Community Plus members engaging community residents at S.O.S. Safe Play Street & back to school event

Justice Community Plus participants have attended a number of events hosted by local elected officials. From Anti-Violence to Gun & Gang Violence Awareness, members have heard valuable messaging from community leaders.

The Justice Community Plus participants from Crown Heights and Bedford Stuyvesant will look to surpass their efforts in the coming months ahead as they land internships, continue exploring new careers, and continue to gain valuable information and lessons learned along their pathways to personal growth and success!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Legal Resource Center coming to Brownsville! Volunteers Needed!

The Brownsville Community Justice Center will be opening its doors to a new Storefront Community Legal Resource Center. Residing at 519 Rockaway Ave., the Legal Resource Center will serve as an aid to the community to receive legal assistance in areas of child support, public benefits, work benefits, immigration, and much more! Despite the gains in the funding for civil legal services in recent years, the reality is that many New Yorkers have no one to turn to for help with civil justice problems. Requiring those in need to come to courthouses or downtown office complexes is an enormous barrier to receiving help with a range of legal problems. The Legal Resource Center will offer immediate assistance to low-income New Yorkers in the neighborhood in which they reside.

The Legal Resource Center is currently looking for volunteers to help assist residence with receiving the information or referrals needed for the issues they may be facing. Volunteers will be trained on a variety of topics they may come in contact with and be supervised by a Volunteer Coordinator and attorney. All volunteers will receive compensation for their time. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please contact Jonathan Smith ( at 646-416-3661 or Erika McSwain ( at 347-404-9940. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Welcome BCJC Project RISE Street Team Interns!

The Brownsville Community Justice Center’s RISE project recently began its newest internship, the BCJC Street Team. The Street Team is comprised of young people that want to make positive changes in Brownsville, specifically to reduce community violence. They will learn about community violence and community healing, while designing community engagement projects on these topics. The street team will also represent the Justice Center at community and city wide events. On their first day of internship, the interns had a special appearance by our very own Project Director, James Brodick. The Street Team interns had some thoughtful and meaningful conversations with James about the needs of the community and the justice system as a whole.

Members of the Street Team meet with Project Director, James Brodick.

Members of the Street Team take notes while staff members present on their role at the Justice Center

Fun On The Run Is In Full Swing For Summer!


Fun on the Run, the Justice Center's mobile recreation program, is in full swing for the summer, travelling across Brownsville providing fun for local children. Fun on the Run, operates Monday through Thursday from 12pm to 3pm. Brownsville Leadership Project interns are working hard providing mobile recreation programming and serving as positive role models for younger children. BLP interns lead arts and crafts, playground activities, and various organized games including basketball. Many young children in Brownsville make sure that they are at the park during our drop in hours in order to enjoy the free programming and continue to develop relationships with their favorite intern!


BLP interns teach youth how to do pull ups on the monkey bars at the Children’s Park on Sutter Avenue and Christopher Street.

BLP interns prepare Fun on the Run the arts and crafts table!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Brownsville Justice Community Program Participants Create Powerful Documentaries

Every program cycle, the Brownsville Justice Community Program hosts multiple tracks that range in content based on the interests of the participants.  In each track, participants work on personal and community projects that speak to their experiences in Brownsville, their goals as they develop as young adults, and tangible ways they can use their development to build their community (activating desolate spaces, increasing public safety, exploring economic and employment opportunities, etc.).

Our most recent graduating classes participated in the Young Adult Entrepreneurship Program track, the Community Benefit Projects track, the Mark Morris Dance Group track, and the Reel Works track.

The participants in the Reel Works track develop skills to become film makers, set designers, writers, and to get exposed to various other career paths the film industry offers.  Our first class of Reel Works participants to complete the track not only created their first films, but also had their films premiered at the New York Institute of Technology!  

Join me in congratulating our Reel Works participants by watching their newly premiered documentaries below...

Friday, July 31, 2015

Justice Community Plus: Somethin' Is Cooking In The Community

On July 24th 2015, two communities came together to offer opportunities and possibilities to a group of young people over grilled hot dogs and hamburgers.  The meet and greet took place at the S.O.S Crown Heights Mediation Center where youth from Bedford Stuyvesant and Crown Heights gathered to hear about innovative youth programming offered through the Brownsville Community Justice Center.  

Participants we’re excited to find out that Justice Community Plus (JCP) came to recruit and usher in the next cohort for the upcoming year! Our Justice Community Program Coordinator, Kayin Latson and Youth and Community Engagement Specialist Tarisse Iriarte introduced the benefits of the JCP program to over 20 attentive listeners.

Potential participants learned that they have an opportunity to earn OSHA certifications through Click Safety, take courses like graphic design through our partners at City Tech and explore a wealth of career options through our job readiness intensive. Additionally, youth were excited to know they would be giving back to their communities by participating in community benefit projects in Bedford Stuyvesant and Crown Heights.  Tarisse explained how rewarding the program is to young people who are in pursuit of their goals and just need support getting there.

We are looking forward to the community celebrating these young leaders while ushering in the newbees!  This will be a memorable time for everyone as we are so proud of all the great work our youth have done and will continue to do in the Bedstuy/Crown Heights Communities. 

Two Brownsville Justice Community Program Graduations In One Week

The Brownsville Justice Community Program graduated two separate groups of young people in one week. The first group was a part of our Justice Community Main program, a program for young people who live in the larger Brownsville community. The second group was a part of the Marcus Garvey Justice Community program, a program for young people who live in Marcus Garvey, a development located in Brownsville. Both groups worked extremely hard at their goals and also learned some new things that they can take with them. While both groups spent most of their time in their respective tracks of interest based learning, they also spent time giving back to their community and making powerful changes throughout.

Justice Community graduates and alumni across programs from Brownsville, Crown Heights, and Bed-Stuy return from their graduation trip to Six Flags Great Adventure
Justice Community main learned some awesome skills in the interest-based learning tracks that were offered. Some young people choose to work in the ReelWorks track, a track facilitated by ReelWorks staff that taught young people the ins and outs of filmography. Another track that was offered was the Young Adult Entrepreneurship track. In this track young people learned the basics of starting their own businesses by working closely with an experienced entrepreneur. The Community Benefit Projects track took a spin this go round, by working with landscaping and designing Brownsville's own MGV Pops lot on Mother Gaston Boulevard.

Participants in the ReelWorks track celebrating the premiere of their documentaries at the New York Institute of Technology
Participants in the Community Benefit Projects track touch up the facade of a local business on Belmont Avenue.
Ciara, a participant in the Young Adult Entrepreneurship Program track, plots and explains her business plan.
Meanwhile in Marcus Garvey, the young people worked hard at tackling the issues around public safety working closely with BCJC staff and Made in Brownsville, an organization that works with youth to create a future vision for their community through advocacy and education. The Marcus Garvey Justice Community program was the first in its kind. Offering this opportunity to young people specific to one development gave those young people the skills and the know how to create positive changes in their community. Even though this group of young people have graduated, they will continue to be positive agents of change in Marcus Garvey and the larger Brownsville Community. 
Justice Community participants from Marcus Garvey Village present their vision for the future of their development to students and architects from Columbia University.
Justice Community Participants from Marcus Garvey Village present their visions for the future of their development to the Marcus Garvey Village Tenant Association.

Congratulations to our newest Justice Community Graduates!