Youth Engagement & Sports (YES) Program

Our YES Program employs a holistic approach to youth leadership and athletic development using basketball as a vehicle to increase participation in physical education and empower the youth participants to become leaders on the court and in their community, lead healthier lifestyles, and overcome socio-economic hardships. Each program cycle runs for 8-weeks and we operate three cycles throughout the academic school year: (i) October – November, (ii) December – February, &(iii) February – April. We also offer a summer camp program that runs from July through August.

Our youth participants are divided up into four groups based on age. Group 1: Ages 5-7; Group 2: Ages 8-11; Group 3: Ages 12-14 ; 4: Ages 15-18 . Each group participated in a two-hour session which includes warming up & stretching exercises, basketball drills and scrimmages, and a group workshop. Parents also receive packages with nutritional tips.

Addressing Endemic Community Issues

Community Need

A 2015 report conducted by the Office of the New York City Comptroller, concluded that over 28% of New York City public schools did not have a physical fitness space during School Year 2013-2014. In addition, the report–citing data from the New York City Department of Education (DOE)–revealed that over 23% of students enrolled in public elementary and middle schools in DOE District 6 (Washington Heights, Inwood, and parts of Morningside) were obese, ranking #1 in NYC.

Similarly, data from the NYC Department of Education show that 47 percent of kids living in Washington Heights and Inwood are overweight or obese.

NYC Public Schools With & Without Physical Fitness Spaces

  • 28% of schools do not have a fitness space
  • 72% of schools have a fitness space
Source: “Dropping the Ball: Disparities in Physical Education in New York City Schools“, Office of the New York City Comptroller, May 2015.

Our Solution


A sample list of some of the exercises during our sessions. As the kids improve their athletic abilities, we also incorporate more technical and complex drills to broaden their understanding of basketball.


  • Walking & Running Laps
  • Plyometrics (High knees, skip jumps, jumping jacks, lunges)

Dribbling & Passing:

  • Right & Left Hand Dribble
  • Speed Dribble
  • Front crossover (below knees)
  • Line Passing
  • Chest/Bounce Passes

Shooting Drills

  • Layups–Right & Left hand (Half/Full court)
  • Dribble move & shot
  • Free Throws

Defense Drills

  • One-on-One Zig-Zag drill
  • Closeout Drill

Character-Development Workshop

Physical exercise and sports are widely accepted vehicles to promote education, community, health, and personal development. At the core of our character development workshops and programming are our five C’s: confidence, character, competence, compassion, and community. These five values are vital to the development of a well-rounded member of our community.

We also make a concerted effort to target youth and young adults who experience issues of absenteeism, academic difficulties, history of suspensions, probation or parole, and recent immigrants.

5 C’s to Development

  1. Confidence – A feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something. Our participants will learn who they are and how to create their own identity. As leaders, we must have a clear identity and we must know ourselves before we can lead others. We all face some form of adversity and maintaining proper character through adversity is a key to success.
  2. Character – Our participants will learn about different attributes that compose an individual’s character including racial and ethnic identity, family values and history, mental and physical health, emotional intelligence, and behavior. The goal is to illuminate the interconnectivity of what may appear as distinct attributes or choices and how each participant is in control of their character.
  3. Competence – Our participants will learn how to apply their knowledge and life skills to improve their performance on the court, in the classroom, and in their community.
  4. Compassion – Understanding personal and interpersonal concerns and how to respond to each situation based on that experience. Our participants will learn to be thankful for what they have and to understand that they are not the only ones traveling the roads of life and every step there are people who in one way or another have and can help them achieve their goals.
  5. Community – Our participants will learn that we all have faced adversity and that we can use those experiences to make our communities safe/brave spaces for future generations. Participants will also learn the value of community service & civic engagement, they will be participating in a campaign developed by young adults in our Organize Uptown program to improve our community.