Prep for Prep Students in the Public Policy Internships Project Research Current Issues

How are local residents affected by gentrification? Why is mass incarceration so high in the United States? These are some of the questions rising high school juniors and seniors in Prep for Prep’s Public Policy Internships Project (PPIP) investigated in their final presentations.
Public Policy Internships Project (PPIP) combines a nine-week internship with seminars each Wednesday for Prep for Prep rising high school juniors and seniors to explore and contribute to New York City government and the public policy agenda more generally. PPIP students choose to spend their summer engaging with their communities through these internships. This summer they gained insight into public policy and social change from the following guest speakers: 

Brenda Berkman, Vice President of Programs, Monumental Women
Simin Farkhondeh, Education Director, Democracy Now!
Amy Goodman, Co-Founder, Democracy Now!
Carlmais Johnson, NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board 
Katherine Vera (P9 XVIII), Event Planning Manager, American University School of Communications
Andrew Wong (XXII), Litigation Associate, Kelley Drye & Warren

Students are able to apply all that they have learned to research a current social issue that resonates with them in small groups. Prep for Prep community members gathered at The Nightingale-Bamford School on Wednesday, August 2 to hear PPIP student presentations on gentrification, mass incarceration, the evolution of gangs in New York City, the accessibility of cannabis to youth, and the separation of church and state. Each presentation ended with a Q&A session. In her opening remarks, Prep for Prep CEO Ruth Jurgensen congratulated students on their choice to spend the summer serving their communities through PPIP internships at the following organizations:

Office of Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson
The HOPE Program
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
New York Communities for Change
Office of New York City Councilmember Erik Bottcher 
Office of New York City Councilmember Gale Brewer
Office of New York State Senator Jabari Brisport (XXI) 
Office of New York State Senator Robert Jackson

Experience in and out of the office has given these students insight into what it takes to create change locally, nationally, and globally. You can learn more about their final presentations below.

Gentrification, L B-F. (XLI/Avenues), Pedro H. (XLII/Avenues), and Emely L. (XLII/RCDS)

L, Pedro, and Emely discussed how gentrification has spread throughout New York City and the policies that enable this change such as tax incentives and zoning laws. The group shared then and now photos of New York City neighborhoods depicting how drastically a street can change in the span of five to 15 years. The students’ proposed solutions included affordable housing policies, mixed-income development, equitable economic development, and the preservation of cultural heritage.

Mass Incarceration, Nykarra G. (P9 XXXIII/Middlesex), Toni I. (XXXIX/Choate), Matthew S. (XLI/Trinity), and Daniel V. (XLII/Groton)

The history of mass incarceration in the United States is a complicated one. Nykarra, Toni, Matthew, and Daniel unpacked the nation’s history of mass incarceration from the presidential campaigns of Lyndon B. Johnson and Barry Goldwater in 1964 to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. Ultimately, they proposed re-evaluating sentence policies; encouraged bail reform, public policy reform, and in-prison programming reform; and emphasized the need for community engagement and support.

Gang Adaptation, Vivian G. (P9 XXXIV/Deerfield), Kristopher L. (P9 XXXIV/Hotchkiss), and Samantha R. (XLI/LREI)

Vivian, Kristopher, and Samantha outlined the evolution of gang violence in the United States and the legislative response to adolescent crime as many gang members are recruited at a young age. The group analyzed the Raise the Age NY campaign and the Artistic Protection Act. They created a mock case for attendees to participate in, debating whether a suspected gang member and musician convicted of a crime can have their lyrics used as evidence against them in a court of law.

Youth Accessibility to Cannabis, Kevin G-B. (XL/Fieldston), Hilary N. (XL/Brooklyn Heights Montessori '21, Poly Prep), Jonathan N. (XL/St. Bernard's '22, Peddie)

Kevin, Hilary, and Jonathan examined what contributes to the rise of substance use in teens and the lack of enforcement of cannabis selling and growing regulations in New York City. A large factor in the rise in popularity is the marketing: TikTok ads and colorful packaging made to mimic well-known candy and junk foods. In a side-by-side comparison, many in the audience were not able to differentiate all THC products from the real candy or junk food counterpart. 

The Gray Area: Church and State, Leena M. (XLI/Brearley), Chinasa N. (P9 XXXIV/Exeter), and Tene O. (P9 XXXIV/Deerfield)

One of the founding principles of the United States is the separation of church and state. Leena, Chinasa, and Tene examined the blurred line that divides government and religion in U.S. policy making including recent Supreme Court rulings involving abortion laws and praying in schools. In investigating this separation, the group also discovered a religious hierarchy in which Christianity dictates legislation more than other religions despite the separation of church and state and the diversity of religions within the U.S. population.
Congratulations to all of the students for their stunning presentations!
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