Public Allies / Project Reach Youth

Public Allies / Project Reach Youth / 2008-2009

Parent-Community Liaison

Public Allies’ mission is to advance new leadership to strengthen communities, nonprofits and civic participation. Public Allies is changing the face and practice of leadership in communities across the country by demonstrating our conviction that everyone can lead, and that lasting social change results when citizens of all backgrounds step up, take responsibility, and work together.

Project Reach Youth (PRY) is a community-based organization that helps low-income youth and families to learn and grow in a creative and supportive environment. Through education, training, and counseling, our young people put the essential pieces in place today that will help them become responsible adults tomorrow. PRY offers programs and services to the entire family. These include a family literacy program for pre-K children, younger siblings and parents, citizenship classes, ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes, counseling, parenting, home visits, after school learning centers for elementary school children, an after school conflict resolution program, and an after school program for junior high school immigrant you.

Tangible Outcomes

  • Implemented a Team Service Project
  • Lead a Presentation of Learning Talk
  • Built relationships with community businesses and received donations worth over $1000 in donations for Project Reach Youth
  • Created newsletters for parents, flyers for young people to engage in the after school programming
  • Executed several Career Day’s
  • Implemented a mural program with PRY’s teen center 

Comparable Course

The Non Profit Sector and the City

B8499-003, 3.0 credits                                                                                                                      Columbia University

There are many forces that keep cities vibrant and livable.  There are two forces that are clearly visible and acknowledged – government and commerce – for the good that they generate and provide.  But there is another force that is not so readily acknowledged, and yet, plays a key role in ensuring that a city not only functions but is a strong community of service, health, education, and culture.

Corresponding Texts

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Book Review

outlier |ˈoutˌlīər| noun

  1. Something that is situated away from or classes differently from a main or related body
  2. A statistical observation that is markedly different in value from the others of the sample

I have always been fascinated by how people become successful and what their chemical makeup consisted of. Outliers explained how when opportunity and legacy come together it could be a magical experience. For it takes an assortment of aspects for success to happen. Regardless of how you measure success Gladwell portrays that these people all have something in common that threads them together. 

Themes, Topics, Skills

10,000 Rule: “By the time Gates dropped out of Harvard after his sophomore year to try his hand at his own softwear company, he’d been programming practically nonstop for seven consecutive years. He was way past ten thousand hours. How many teenagers in the world had the kind of experience Gates had?” (Page 55)

Age/Birth: “Barnsley argues that these kinds of skewed age distributions exists wherever three things happen: selection, streaming, and differentiation experience. If you make a decision about who is good and who is not good at an early age; if you separate the “talented” from the “untalented”; and if you provide t he “talented” with a superior experience, the you’re going to end up giving a huge advantage to the small group of people born closet to the cutoff date (Malcolm Gladwell on Canadian Hockey) (Page 25)

Opportunity: “The sense of possibility so necessary for success comes not just from inside us or from our parents. It comes from our time: from the particular opportunities that our particular place in history presents us with. (Page 137)

Environment: “The Rodetans were healthy because of where they were from, because of the world they had created fro themselves in their tiny little town in the hills”. (Page 9)

Community: “What did the Cs lack, though? Not something expensive or impossible to find; not something encoded in DNA or hardwired into the circuits of their brains. They lacked something that could have been given to them if we’d only known they needed it: a community around them that prepared them properly for the world”

Culture: “As Borgenicht puts it, the Jews “bit deep into the welcoming land and worked like madmen at what they knew” (Page 144) “The economy was desperate for the skills they possessed” (Page 145)

Tradition: “I realize that we are often wary of making these kinds of broad generalizations about different cultural groups-and with good reason. This is the form that racial and ethnic stereotypes take. We want to believe that we are not prisoners of our ethnic histories.” (Page 170) 

Assessment and Implementation

After reading Outliers I felt that I could create this intentionally. So I started to strategically implement this idea, which is one of the reasons that I was also able to leverage the opportunities that were available by participating StartingBloc, Life Camp Inc and Team Revolution while in Public Allies. It was also a benefit for me in relation to my age: for I was the youngest participant of my class. With this newfound knowledge of how success is created I started building relationships with people inside and outside Public Allies that were in the industry that I wanted to be an expert in. The Public Allies and Project Reach Youth spaces allowed me to be in an environment with people making/creating change in their communities, which is what I needed to do. Therefore like the saying goes “You are who you hang around” I was then a changemaker. This experience also let me put into practice the ability to re-imagine the culture that was embedded in both organizations, in which I did that by using very specific language that engaged, inspired and enrolled people to take action.

Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath

Book Review

While reading Strengths Finder 2.0 I realized the significance of utilizing my strengths and maximizing them. One quote from the book that really struck me was “In stark contrast, our studies indicate that people who do have the opportunity to focus on their strengths every day are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs and more than three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life in general.” (Page iii) After reading that I automatically knew the importance of completing this book and using the activities and tools it provided to sharpen my skills.

Themes, Topics, Skills

Futuristic: “People who are especially talented in the Futuristic theme are inspired by the future and what could be. They inspire others with their visions of the future.” (Shared Theme Report Gallup)

Ideation: “People who are especially talented in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.” (Shared Theme Report Gallup)

Input: “People who are especially talented in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often they like to collect and archive all kinds of information.” (Shared Theme Report Gallup)

Learner: “People who are especially talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.” (Shared Theme Report Gallup)

Positivity:People who are especially talented in the Positivity theme have an enthusiasm that is contagious. They are upbeat and can get others excited about what they are going to do.” (Shared Theme Report Gallup)

Assessment and Implementation

Throughout my participation in Public Allies I was told to work on my weaknesses such as writing and focus more on going back to college. I was never connected to these two ideas for many reasons. One being that I had no reason as of yet to return back to school, and I had made a commitment to myself that I would not return because that’s solely what everyone else wanted me to do. I didn’t know my passion yet, so I felt I didn’t need to return to school. Writing was always something that I did, but I felt I wasn’t strong in. It always made since for me to just get my thoughts out and then send to someone who was good at writing and ask them for assistance with putting it together. After I took the Strengths Finder 2.0 Test and I was now aware of my strengths, which were: Futuristic, Ideation, Input, Learner and Positivity, I started putting them into practice immediately. I started sharing my ideas of what could happen if we could create our own future. It was important to me to share my ideas around the Team Service Project and how I could make my Presentation of Learning innovative and interesting. As our Friday Trainings took place I was eager to learn more about the person, their struggles and successes and the organizations they represented. Lastly I just wanted to keep the positive energy flowing in my partner organization or the Public Allies headquarters.


“Working with Syreeta was a breath of fresh air. Her drive, passion, thirst and vision for extraordinariness is beyond my imagination during the time of our fellowship together. What blew me away by her work is when we all conducted our TSP, which was a financial workshop at the college for high school students. I cannot recall all that she said. I do remember clearly the look in the eyes of the participants. And on their faces were hope, possibilities, aliveness and dreams fulfilled. You provided a great source and example of inspiration for those students and connectedness like never before had they experience prior with her. She always inspired me to expand myself and fulfill my dreams. She truly was my super star and shining light during my year of working with her.” Tahirah Taalib-Din / Founder, The Tahirah Show

“I will forever remember Syreeta as a person who is deeply involved with community development. She’s the life of the party and the motivation to many youth wanting to head into a positive direction. Did I forget to mention that she’s SWEET!” Randy Rosa

“Syreeta Gates, is a force of elevation to our generation, from our Public Allies experience to the simplest advice she has give me, she has always strengthen my energy, drive & dedication. Her impact on my life, I will carry with me for my entire life. Know when you look at “KATE ROSS,” your looking at someone inspired by “SYREETA GATES.” Kate Ross / Designer

For more information about this project or organization please visit: http://www.publicallies.org



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