Since Community of Unity (CofU) was founded in 2001 by youth development specialist Eric Komoroff, over 30,000 youth from around the world have been touched by their programs. This year's annual benefit, which will take place on Thursday, October 29 at 7p at the Winston Wachter Gallery in Chelsea (530 West 25th Street), will raise funds for groundbreaking programs that are responsible for the 90% college attendance rate of graduates from their after-school program participants. MTV news correspondent Sway Calloway will be the emcee for the evening.
In New York City, over 200 schools have used CofU's professional development workshops, consulting services, and materials to help at-risk youth transform their lives and in turn, the culture of their schools and communities. Programs and prisons in South Africa and Zimbabwe have also implemented the groundbreaking programs. Their curriculum is based on the premise that by building constructive peer-to-peer and peer-to-adult relationships over multiple years, youth are provided opportunities for belonging, space to build essential life-skills, and are able to grow their connection to family and community.
CofU is raising funds to open an emotionally and academically supportive housing option for a high school on Manhattan's Lower East Side for students who are homeless, in foster care, or in inconsistent home environments due to family crisis. This "Community House" will be a new, holistic model of urban public schooling, designed to anticipate and meet the real needs of the diverse body of students in New York City public school system.
Jean Carlos Artiles, a teen who has participated in CofU's programs since 2004 explains the life-changing impact it has had: "This program has been, and will always be, one of the most meaningful aspects of my life, and has shaped my character as a man. I was able to face the things I unconsciously put up that prevented me from using 100% of my potential towards becoming the best me I can be. Also, the group I attend is all male, and not often you can find a group of young men (15-19) or even older men that can share so much about their personal lives and be so comfortable at the same time."
Board President Ocean MacAdams (former senior VP of MTV News) says that the key to Community of Unity's success is the individual attention youth receive - making this program extraordinarily unique in New York. "Eric and his staff provide non-denominational spiritual tools and an amazing amount of one-on-one mentoring so students learn how to make their own positive choices."
Over 25 youth in CofU's New York City programs - some as long as seven years - will attend the October 29 event. Youth, along with founder Eric Komoroff will be available for interviews. Media are invited and encouraged to RSVP to the contact above.