The Next Generation of Progressive Organizing

August 30, 2017
By Najha Zigbi-Johnson

This summer, 18 interns were placed at 14 grantee organizations as part of our Summer Internship in Community Organizing Program (SICO). In this series we learn about the work of five interns, and the importance of young people organizing in this political moment.

For 36 years, the New York Foundation’s Summer Internship in Community Organizing (SICO) program has offered young people the opportunity to intern at organizations that are grounded in grassroots organizing and advocacy work. This year’s cohort of interns was reflective of the racial, ethnic and religious diversity of New York City—reminding me not only of the beauty of cultural pluralism within this city, but also of the specific histories of racial injustice, civil unrest and inequity that so deeply affect marginalized communities across the five boroughs, and inform the landscape of justice work.

Being able to learn from the SICO interns during my site visits and the summer orientation session about the work of their organizations—and, specifically how they have been able to contribute—highlights the importance and centrality of bringing young folks into organizing and movement building. During our interview, Shimul Miah, the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition’s SICO intern, poignantly said, I think that it’s important for people to give youth the opportunities, (to give them) to allow them to become leaders, to allow them to organize and protest.” Bearing witness to the work and convictions of the SICO interns, and getting to more deeply understand the landscape of justice-oriented organizing across New York City felt particularly pertinent as we seek to fortify communities in an uncertain political time.

Through this short interview series, I hope to elevate the experiences of five SICO interns from the Mexican American Students Alliance (MASA), Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities and Young Advocates for Fair Education (YAFFED), and illustrate the diversity of work supported by the New York Foundation.


Shimul Miah – Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition

Lisa Ng – CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities

Julianna Merino – Mexican American Students Alliance (MASA)

Caty Seger and Kate Hirsh – Young Advocates for Fair Education (YAFFED)