Hip-Hop Center For Youth Entrepreneurship
Center’s Mission & Vision: To create a multi-use, culturally rich hub for youth entrepreneurship, centered around cultural awareness, career development and social growth for youth. To train and develop youth through the experiential synergistic partnerships with local entrepreneurs, businesses and academic institutions.
The Hip-Hop Center for Youth Entrepreneurship will provide both a permanent headquarters for The Good Life and a haven for collaboration between several Syracuse youth organizations.
The facility, a former dairy and currently abandoned training ground for graffiti artists at 215 Tully Street on Syracuse’s Near Westside, will be converted to house program offices, classrooms, a business incubator, a print studio, a recording studio, and indoor and outdoor event spaces. The building, which sits directly across from low-income housing in one of the city’s most economically depressed neighborhoods, will also include new apartments and a fully accessible green roof.
Architect and Syracuse University Assistant Professor, Sekou Cooke, a leading practitioner and researcher in the field of Hip-Hop Architecture, will guide the design and construction of the center. Hasan Stephens, the founder and Executive Director of The Good Life Foundation, will provide vision and direction for the project.
The Need Explained
Syracuse, NY is a microcosm of the epidemic of poverty and violence in the nation at large. Syracuse made national news for being the poverty capital of the nation, with the highest concentration of poverty concentrated amongst African American and Latino populations. Despite having the highest concentration of poverty amongst these populations in the nation, there is also a large population of poor whites concentrated on the North Side as well making it the 9th poorest city in the US overall.
[US Census Report 2015].
According to the latest Census report, 45.3 percent of children under age 18 in Syracuse lived in poverty in 2015. Also, 50.5 percent of Syracuse’s estimated population of 130,721 was unemployed at some point in 2015. Less than half of the city’s population, 16 years old and older, is in the workforce. Unemployed youth grow up to be unemployed adults.
According to CNY Works, the city’s main youth employment arm, there is a void for employment opportunities for youth ages 14-15, leaving a large number of youth unemployed for the summers, with idol time on their hands. With a limited number of positions, Onondaga Earth Corps is the only employment opportunity for many youth, but that starts at age 15.
Youth employment is a key factor in economic development that remains un-talked about, as the youth become future tax payers, and entrepreneurs, or tax burdens through incarceration. It currently costs approximately $300,000 to incarcerate 1 youth for 1 year.
[US Census Report 2015] [Onondaga County Regional Youth Justice]
From an educational standpoint, more than a third of those identified as poor lack a high school diploma. In 2014, Syracuse was identified as having one of the highest school suspension rates in the nation, disproportionately amongst African American and Latino students. In June of 2017, the Syracuse City School District graduation rates have, for the first time, exceeded 60%. However, that does not reflect the population of youth who are often the most severe cases of poverty and are in contact with the justice system. [Syracuse.com]
Black (46.53%) and Latino (12.71%) youth represent the highest populations of youth arrested and incarcerated, while remaining amongst the lowest populations in Onondaga County. [Onondaga County Racial & Ethnic Disparities Committee]