Get To Know us
Urban Youth Alliance International is an indigenous, multicultural, cross-denominational urban youth ministry dedicated to developing urban youth into leaders and productive members of their communities. At the heart of the organization's mission is the recognition of the unique role that faith and members of faith communities - regardless of specific affiliations - serve in transforming lives, and in building, nurturing and sustaining communities.
Urban Youth Alliance was founded in 1970 by young people from the city's poorest neighborhoods dedicated to living out their faith in ways that would transform their communities. They started the Seekers Christian Fellowships in their high schools and colleges to mobilize youth for leadership. Students held prayer meetings, bible study, and evangelistic rallies in their high schools. As the movement grew, students also organized literacy programs, HIV support groups in the churches, blood drives, food pantries and other community building activities. The fledgling movement sought oversight and guidance from Teen Challenge during its early development. In 1978, Urban Youth Alliance was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with Rev. Faith Brown as the first Executive Director. The Seekers movement continues to grow and now maintains a presence on 25 high school and college campuses, with students organizing campus-wide and city-wide events.
Over the last ten years, the organization has grown tremendously, branching out into much-needed social services for the community. In 1998, Urban Youth Alliance was approached by Public/Private Ventures and invited to serve as the Bronx site for the National Faith Based Initiative for Youth, a national research demonstration mobilizing churches to partner with the justice system to reach the highest-risk youth. What began as a mentoring outreach to match church members with adjudicated and at-risk youth has developed into the borough's only community-based alternative-to-incarceration program for juveniles.
Since partnering with the courts in 2000, BronxConnect has achieved a better than 75% success in rate in keeping court-involved youth from returning to the system. In 2004, Urban Youth Alliance launched a Workforce Development Institute as a response to the overwhelming unemployment in the South Bronx. The program provides job training and job placement to individuals with little or no work history, with a special emphasis on adjudicated and formerly incarcerated individuals. In 2005, the Workforce Development Institute entered into two partnerships with the US Department of Labor: the Esperanza Trabajando initiative to provide training and employment for adjudicated and at-risk youth, and the Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative to provide jobs for young adults returning home after a period of incarceration.
In 2005, Urban Youth Alliance launched the SUCCESS program, an after school tutoring initiative at a local Bronx middle school. The program matches students at risk of academic failure with volunteer tutors and has helped students make significant gains in literacy, academic performance, and attendance. In 2007, Urban Youth Alliance launched the Bridges to Freedom program, an outreach to youth and young adults detained in city detention centers, that uses a cognitive-behavioral approach designed to replace negative thinking patterns with positive mindsets.
Urban Youth Alliance continues to grow, developing innovative programs to address pressing social issues, while remaining grounded in our faith, rooted in the local community, and committed to youth leadership and empowerment.