Read the story here. Advertise at Before It's News here.
Profile image
By BusinessImpacts
Contributor profile | More stories
Story Views
Last hour:
Last 24 hours:

RIOC's CEO Shelton Haynes and His Team Upgrade Roosevelt Island's Youth Center

% of readers think this story is Fact. Add your two cents.

After the school bells ring, children practically skip to the Roosevelt Island Youth Center. The sound of their happy banter fills the building as they arrive to participate in chess, yoga, art, science, and other areas of interest. Such after-school activities deliver an impactful benefit for children of dual-career and working families.

“The time after the school bell rings up to when they go home, those hours are the most critical,” says Shelton Haynes, the chief executive officer of Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation. He manages the daily functions of Roosevelt Island, New York, a sliver of land in Manhattan’s East River, for the state-run RIOC, which functions as a local government for the 12,000 residents.

Haynes has followed the research correlating youth crime with unsupervised time after school. The nonprofit Fight Crime: Invest in Kids helps youths live productive lives by reducing youth crime and recently reported new data about the issues. The report proved what law enforcement already knew: The peak time for juvenile crime is between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. during the school week.

According to the most recent data available, 26% of youth offenses occur in this time window, including assault, theft, and drug-related crimes. Alternately, studies show that supportive and enriching youth centers, such as the Roosevelt Island Youth Center, keep kids safe and out of trouble. Studies reveal that such centers also improve youths’ academic, social and emotional development.

“In society,” says Haynes, to break “whatever cycles there are, you start with the young people and ensure they have a chance.” He says the youth center is a place where young people “can come to be safe. We can be entrusted with that because the youths are well taken care of” there.

RIOC’s CEO Shelton Haynes States the New Youth Center Management Raised the Bar

Haynes was optimistic the center presented an opportunity for his team to embark on a year-and-a-half renovation plan. RIOC self-funded it to the tune of $2.1 million to upgrade the facility to accommodate more youth programs.

“I had bigger dreams for this program once I saw the potential,” he states. “We expanded the scope of the use of the space.”

Today, renovations have concluded, creating an astounding difference in the youth center’s safety and usability. The building houses a learning kitchen, music room, educational garden, gaming center, computer lab, activity room, and STEM lab. Since reopening, the center has hosted chess tournaments, gardening clubs, biking activities, and more.

The Roosevelt Island Youth Center also partners with other community groups for programming. One example is iDig2Learn, whose members teach children at the center to learn science, math, and healthy eating habits by exploring plant life.

The center also includes a multimedia theater to advance performing arts activities. It offers instruction in the latest technologies used in filmmaking and podcasting. By learning these skills, youths headed toward entrepreneurship or media will be prepared.

“This part of my job is the most exciting because we are giving back in a way that I couldn’t even imagine,” Haynes says. “I’m most proud of that.”

Shelton Haynes and the RIOC Team Improved Staffing to Include Experts

During the massive overhaul of the Roosevelt Island Youth Center, Haynes took the ambitious step of bringing the center’s management in-house. An outside contractor previously operated it.

“We also made a conscious decision to look at the staffing model and upgrade that by bringing in experts in subject matters,” Shelton Haynes says. The model convinced RIOC to hire top-shelf employees possessing the expertise to build up these “little learners,” as he and his team call the youths.

RIOC hired the youth center’s director, Ana Medina, a YMCA veteran seasoned in the world of child development. Haynes felt that Medina would help provide top-notch child care and help hire an excellent secondary and complementary staff.

“The goal was to acquire the staff so we could be a real reputable child care program,” Haynes says. “We built the entire program from the ground up. Now we’re able to incorporate a tremendous amount of programming.”

The center’s improved credibility means possibilities for the future. Haynes heavily researched facts about childcare when he was improving the youth center. He was determined to secure a New York State School Age Child Care accreditation. It took work, but the youth center received the SACC license early in 2023

“The SACC license allows us to expand the program and become a legitimate child care program,” Haynes explains.

Since the Roosevelt Island Youth Center opened, RIOC has communicated a superb range of offerings. RIOC is also spreading the word that the youth center program is free.

“I think people don’t realize it’s a free program that gives young people a chance at everything,” Haynes says.

Research Shows Structured Programming Keeps Youths Away From Crime and Danger

Just as research reveals that after-school hours tempt youths with trouble, young people benefit from engaging in structured pursuits. Such activities offer children and teens positive interactions with others and encourage them to contribute, take the initiative, and develop new skills.

“Our youth center program is very well rounded,” Shelton Haynes says. “We hope to make our mark. We want to have a robust program that is second to none.”

The Roosevelt Island Youth Center currently offers an array of activities for youth, including indoor and outdoor sports, wellness, civic engagement, leadership, and college and career readiness. But Haynes wants to expand the services, which will require grant funding. The center is currently self-funded by RIOC, which he says isn’t a sustainable mode of operation.

Haynes says RIOC can provide occasional field trips and cultural enrichment for children should the city, state, or federal governments fund the center. For older youths, he’d like to expand college- and job-readiness programs, writing and communication classes, dress-for-success programs, and conflict resolution lessons.

“Through these initiatives, we can help build up young people at the older adolescent stage,” Haynes says. “That way, we can ensure that they’re successful. We want our program to be the model, essentially. That’s how you build a community. That’s how you build that foundation.”

Haynes also wants to create a mentorship program to educate youths about different careers, including education, law, banking, and trade work.

“Beyond that, counseling is a big part of the plan,” Haynes says. “We’re living in challenging times, so I don’t want to gloss over that.”

Haynes credits his studies in social work with fueling his passion for helping communities. He attended Hampton University in Virginia, a prestigious historically Black institution whose famous alums include Tuskegee University founder Booker T. Washington and Emmy Award-winning comedian Wanda Sykes.

After he achieved his bachelor’s degree in sociology, he returned home to New York , where he began his career in social work and government agencies before joining RIOC in 2016.

“I have a social worker’s heart,” he says. “I thought that would be my path, but life took me here. Social work is still my calling at the end of the day. I want to ensure that we enrich and provide better resources for young people in our community.”

In his hours outside RIOC’s offices, Haynes spends time with his family. He also mentors’ youths ages 12 to 17 in Harlem through the Children’s Aid Society.

While socializing with the young men, Haynes tells them about different initiatives that might be helpful for them. The teens chat about whatever is on their minds as he lends an ear.

“We talk about current events, some politics, and everyday adolescent obstacles that they go through,” he says. “It is very fulfilling, helping youths through the Children’s Aid Society each week; it’s like social work. I mentor these young people, hear them out, and help them navigate challenging situations. We need more of that.”

Before It’s News® is a community of individuals who report on what’s going on around them, from all around the world.

Anyone can join.
Anyone can contribute.
Anyone can become informed about their world.

"United We Stand" Click Here To Create Your Personal Citizen Journalist Account Today, Be Sure To Invite Your Friends.

Please Help Support BeforeitsNews by trying our Natural Health Products below!

Order by Phone at 888-809-8385 or online at M - F 9am to 5pm EST

Order by Phone at 866-388-7003 or online at M - F 9am to 5pm EST

Order by Phone at 866-388-7003 or online at M - F 9am to 5pm EST

Humic & Fulvic Trace Minerals Complex - Nature's most important supplement! Vivid Dreams again!

HNEX HydroNano EXtracellular Water - Improve immune system health and reduce inflammation.

Ultimate Clinical Potency Curcumin - Natural pain relief, reduce inflammation and so much more.

MitoCopper - Bioavailable Copper destroys pathogens and gives you more energy. (See Blood Video)

Oxy Powder - Natural Colon Cleanser!  Cleans out toxic buildup with oxygen!

Nascent Iodine - Promotes detoxification, mental focus and thyroid health.

Smart Meter Cover -  Reduces Smart Meter radiation by 96%! (See Video).

Report abuse


    Your Comments
    Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green

    Load more ...




    Email this story
    Email this story

    If you really want to ban this commenter, please write down the reason:

    If you really want to disable all recommended stories, click on OK button. After that, you will be redirect to your options page.