February 18, 2022 Category: Our Programs Partnerships

Summer Teen Academy: Leadership Training, Mentorship and Career Exploration

After creating a range of new teen programs in Summer 2020, The Fund recognized the need to continue to invest in those programs and provide opportunities for teens to gain professional experience and build community with their peers and counselors. 

The Summer Teen Academy offers hybrid learning opportunities for teens ages 13 to 17 to participate in career exploration programming and build skills to succeed in the workplace and beyond. It includes Credentialing Programs, a Job Readiness Training Program and an Internship Program. All programs offer stipends, which range from $500 – $1,000 depending on the time commitment required.  Teens are also invited to participate in our Summer Teen Enrichment Programs.

In Summer 2021, 595 youth participated in the Teen Academy with a remarkable impact of 86% of participants sharing that they feel more confident and 84% that they got better working as a team.  

“I gained experience of what teaching is like. I love teaching and it is part of my plan for a future career. It was an opportunity for professional development and networking, I learned from this program how the project-based learning experience helps students,” 16-year-old Shirley shares about her internship experience.  


From weekly trips to Governors Island to learning how to code a video game or starting their own businesses, the Summer Teen Academy Credentialing Program provided hands-on opportunities for teens to discover new interests and learn new skills.  

The four programs include Architecture and Urban Design in partnership with PennPraxis at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design, Environmental Education in partnership with NOLS, Entrepreneurship in partnership Youthful Savings, and Video Game Design led by the Urban Arts Partnership.  

As part of The Fund’s Design Studio program, Fresh Air teens visited Governors Island. Using a typography map to recreate the island, teens reimagined a new design for Governors Island.

“The Design Studio Program was a great opportunity for me and I’m really glad that I did it! I learned so many new things. I learned how to cut wood for the first time ever, I used a blowtorch when I was making the bells and I learned how to use this website, AGU, to make the collages on my project. I didn’t have any background experience at all in architecture and design and now it’s interesting to me, so maybe in the future I’ll even be an architect,” 17-year-old Fresh Air teen, Arian, shared.  

An outdoor classroom – as part of the Environmental Education program in partnership with NOLS, Fresh Air teens learned about NYC waterways and tried seining for the first time! 

“I’m learning ways that I can help the environment, and help animals and plants survive. I learned more about global warming and that just really opened my mind. I learned how to work better with a team, and how to communicate better. The program was everything I expected and more,” 13-year-old Environmental Education teen participant, Desiree, said. 


What do you want to be when you grow up? This three-week virtual program provides job readiness opportunities for teens ages 13-15. They participate in workshops on financial literacy, effective communication and leadership.  

15-year-old Nia explored different career paths and learned how to create her own resume. 

“Thanks to this program, I learned more about being financially literate. You learn so much about the real world and how to adapt to a workspace. It’s a lot of information on creating a resume, internships, and so much more that you don’t learn at school. These are the skills you need in the real world! I’m really thankful for that information because it’s something that can benefit me career wise, long term,” said 15-year-old Nia. 

Organizations such as Morgan Stanley and NYU Langone Health hosted panels for students to receive advice and inspiration, and learn more about the educational and professional experiences needed to pursue careers in those fields.  

A big Fresh Air thank you to all of our guest speakers including Morgan Stanley! 

For many of the students, it was their first time learning about how they can start investing in and preparing for their futures through advice from directly from successful professionals. Workshops facilitated by the volunteers encouraged students to collaboratively work on a team, and think about applying for internships. 

Through workshops and hands-on interactive assignments, teens completed a series of projects to explore the educational and professional experiences they need to pursue their desired career. A Fresh Air teen, Melissa, shared her excitement after completing the program, “It gave us a head start for our future!” 


Our Youth Enrichment Programs provide teens with safe spaces to connect with peers and mentors.  

The Girls Empowerment Series is an eight-week program dedicated to providing mentoring opportunities for young women ages 13-17. The program features guest speakers that share their personal and professional journeys to empower and inspire the students. It also introduced the girls ways they can broaden their support system through strengthening connections with friends and mentors.  

“The guest speakers taught a message on how to be yourself and not hide who you are. They showed me that you’re special no matter what. I learned to be more natural with my appearance, and that you don’t have to wear makeup to look pretty, or dress up a certain way,” said 14-year-old Bianca.  

The newly launched Circle of Brotherhood program provides young men, ages 13-17, a safe space to discuss issues related to healthy manhood. Designed to build a community and environment based on mutual support and deepening friendships, teens are encouraged to engage in conversations without fear of judgement. 

Special guest speaker, Tyler Dean Flores, shares his journey, his biggest sources of inspiration and more during The Fresh Air Fund’s Young Men’s Virtual Symposium. 


“A skill I learned being a part of the program was confidence – being able to lead helped me build up the confidence to teach,” said 17-year-old Michelle.  

Teens ages 16-17-years-old participate in a six-week immersive program. The internship provides Fresh Air teens first-hand experience of working in the real world. This opportunity allows interns to become mentors to younger Fresh Air participants, build a strong resume and help guide career goals.  

16-year-old Shirley applied for the internship because she saw it as an opportunity to explore her interests of working with kids. After the internship, Shirley is now more excited to pursue a career in education. “This program makes me feel optimistic because I love teaching students and it’s part of my plan for my future career, so I can get an experience beforehand of what it is like to be teaching,” Shirley said.   

At Fresh Air Summer Spaces, interns work closely with NYC kids and lead games, play sports, plan art activities and work on STEM projects. 

For 17-year-old Burton, his experience as an intern helped him realize he wants to be a camp counselor one day, “I liked working with the kids because I enjoyed seeing what everyone created when we did projects together. Because of this experience, I might apply to be a counselor at one of the camps in the future. I learned how to encourage and support children. It is important to create an environment where every child feels comfortable.” 

Our YIP interns finished the program with more confidence, new leadership skills and a network of support encouraging them as they take their next step in their professional and personal journeys!