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At 21 years old, Milan Taylor founded the Rockaway Youth Task Force in 2011. Then, the youngest member of Community Board 14, he was concerned with the lack of youth representation in civic affairs. Believing it the utmost importance to include youth voices in community development, he created RYTF, a youth-led, community-based, volunteer organization.
Since 2011, RYTF has engaged hundreds of local Rockaway youth between the ages of 15—25. RYTF’s mission is cradled with our humble beginnings—to empower local youth through civic engagement and volunteer opportunities. We build on our Four Principles: advocacy , volunteer work, mentoring, and professional development.
Since our founding, we’ve brought measurable to change to the Rockaway Peninsula. We rallied for an end to stop-and-frisk. We’ve conducted voter registration drives, and hosted communal Thanksgiving dinners and space heater drives. Our Superstorm Sandy efforts were especially notable, considering that we organized over 200 volunteers to hand deliver goods and supplies to disabled and elderly residents stranded in high-rises.
Our most impressive work surrounds our community garden, a once vacant lot that has been transformed into a half-acre of usable, self-sustainable space for local residents to enjoy. Our community garden is a major component of our newly developed Food Justice program.
RYTF has been fortunate to see measurable success in a relatively short period of time. Our unique approach to youth recruitment, training, and development is an emblem of our belief in the spirit and drive of young people. As we continue to expand as an organization, we are thankful to all those who supported us along the way.