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Through the Summer Apps Youth Leadership Academy (AYLA) Program, high school students receive hands-on training in creating digital programs and apps while engaging with the cultural histories of East and Central Harlem. Students develop specialized academic, cultural, and technical skills preparing them for careers of the future, with an understanding of the successes of Harlem’s past. AYLA is a STEAM-based arts, culture, and technology program celebrating the heritage of the African Diaspora. The program is complemented and strengthened by a research component based in our histories, culture, and social justice.  The Apps Youth Leadership Academy is an innovative program of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI).

The program:

  • Trains 15-20 high school students annually in apps development, multimedia and/or digital production, historical and cultural content learning, and an introduction to arts and tech-based careers.

  • Immerses participants in cultural research, archival and historical documentation

  • Strengthens skills in digital art making, writing and digital communications

  • Exposes youth to social justice issues, such as inequality and gentrification

  • Provides intergenerational mentorship with established technology leaders, who use their apps and media for social justice platforms

  • Hires college-level student alumni as assistant trainers for each summer’s program

  • Incorporates cooperative management and teamwork opportunities

  • Provides opportunities for social media outreach, public speaking and writing skills development

  • The pilot launched in 2014 with support from Rockefeller Foundation and Harlem Community Development Corporation. Participants learned to develop the Augmented Reality apps for CCCADI’s Mi Querido Barrio (MQB) project, digitally landmarking East Harlem’s rich history and cultural legacy. The pilot concluded with a PitchFest and public ceremony at My Image Studios (MIST) in Harlem, covered by the Amsterdam News. The MQB app also garnered accolades from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.


Working with key members through our collaborative school partnerships, such as the NYCDOE, past student-participants have been recruited from the following schools:

  1. Urban Assembly Gateway School for Technology

  2. Academy for Software Engineering

  3. Bronx Academy for Software Engineering

  4. Frederick Douglass Academy

  5. The Young Women’s Leadership Academy

  6. Bronx Center for Science & Mathematics

In 2018, CCCADI will base the Summer Apps Youth Leadership Academy Program at our Firehouse home from July 9th-August 9th.  These summer teens will explore the social and cultural history of Central and East Harlem, using Augmented and Virtual Reality technology to document their learning and in the creation of immersive media projects. Each design team will create an AR/VR project, which will deliver historical and cultural content by digitally landmarking key historic places in Harlem.

2018 Summer Apps Youth Leadership Academy Program


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