Two distinguished Queens students are developing new skills to positively affect their communities in Bank of America’s Student Leaders six-week summer internship program.
Jahin Rahman, 17, is a Queens Village resident and rising senior at the Academy of American Studies, while Rae Jeong, 17, is a Bayside resident and rising senior at Stuyvesant High School.
Rahman and Jeong are among five New York City high school students selected to participate in the program that continues to show students the vital role that nonprofits play in advancing community health, the need for public private partnerships to advance social change, and the importance of building financial acumen.
This year, due to COVID-19, the Bank of America Student Leaders program adapted to a virtual format this summer, where students developed digital communications campaigns, participated in grant application processes, and created strategic plans for fundraising post-COVID-19.
Jeong and Rahman have been working remotely with the YMCA of Greater New York on programs that empower youth, improve health and strengthen the community.
“At the YMCA Greater New York we believe that lasting personal and social change can only come about when we all work together to invest in our youth, our neighbors and our communities,” said Sharon Greenberger, president and CEO, YMCA of Greater New York.
Rahman said the program has been “a very organized and productive experience overall — especially learning how to make a nonprofit.”
Rahman is the founder of a nonprofit student-led organization, Efforts in Youth Development Bangladesh in New York City and Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. The team provides quality education to at-risk youth in Bangladesh by developing paths toward social sustainability for the next generation.
EYDB has built a library and computer lab, established a literacy program, and donated clothing to benefit children from underserved communities in Bangladesh. This summer, Rahman is also partnering with Base For Girls to distribute 500 menstrual product kits to girls in Bangladesh, and conduct menstrual hygiene and reproductive health classes.
“I’m very active in my community and I like to do things to help people,” Rahman said. “I wanted to do something over the summer that was committed to service and Bank of America came out at the top of the list.”
For Jeong, the decision to participate in the program was not only based on his community involvement, but also the lack of diversity at Stuyvesant High School.
“They’ve been under fire for their diversity, where a small portion of the class is African-American and a lack of inclusion of other races,” Jeong said. “It means a lot to me tackle these underlying causes — going back to a community and neighborhood level, and systemic discrimination that is impacting education.”
Jeong’s civil service began after going on a church mission trip to the Dominican Republic, where he saw what “real poverty looked like: struggle and silence.” As he became involved in writing for the school newspaper and joined the debate team, he learned about certain issues that prompted him to take action.
Last November, Jeong and his friends founded an educational organization called Young Debaters, which provides debate resources — webinars and coaching sessions — for thousands of students across the country and the world.
To help tackle food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic, Jeong founded Mouth Peas, where volunteers help deliver groceries to people who are unable to go to the grocery store.
“I asked why do I have to wait until the government solves this?” Jeong said. “I try to do as much community service as I could but I didn’t have the organization, needs, or mentorship to lead change in a community.”
And that’s when Jeong discovered the Bank of America Student Leadership program that seemed like the perfect launch pad to take the next steps in benefitting his career.
“It taught me a lot of things, for example, how a nonprofit organization works and the basics. They did an excellent job teaching us that — whether it be webinar, livestream or presentations. It gave me a really good picture of how community service works in the real world,” Jeong said.
Bringing students from across the country together in order to discuss the role of citizenship and how cross sector collaboration creates community impact is a core component of the Student Leaders program. This year, 300 students gathered virtually for the Young America Together at Home program, delivered by the Close Up Foundation, which included a discussion of finding one’s voice in order to effect change and pressing policy issues such as the economy, healthcare, the environment and immigration.
Jeong and Rahman engaged in conversations focused on social justice, civil rights and how to build a more diverse and inclusive society. They also had the opportunity to gain a better understanding of their personal finances through Better Money Habits, Bank of America’s financial wellness and education platform.
The students were also recognized with a $5,000 stipend for their community achievements.
Now in its 17th year, the Student Leaders program has seen participants go on to graduate from Ivy League universities, start careers in fields as varied as social work, marketing and banking, and continue to be leaders in their communities.
Additionally, Student Leaders, Bank of America invests in approximately 3,000 summer jobs for young people across the nation through partnerships with nonprofits. In New York City, the bank supports 100 jobs through the Fund for Public Schools and their CTE Summer Scholars program, which supports students in Career and Technical Education high schools by providing work readiness training, certifications and internships.
“Bank of America is grateful for our continued partnership with the YMCA of Greater New York as we collectively navigate the challenges our communities face and remain committed to supporting young people from across New York City,” said Anne Walker, New York City market president for Bank of America. “By connecting our Student Leaders to jobs, skills-building and leadership development opportunities, we are providing them with the tools necessary to be agents of change, a powerful investment in the future of our communities.”