What is Chinese Youth Initiative (CYI)?
The mission of the Chinese Youth Initiative is to develop youth leadership in the Chinese American community. We strive to accomplish this goal by cultivating awareness about the issues facing Chinese Americans and providing youth with experience in grassroots community organizing.
Since 1994, CYI has brought together Chinese American youth from all over the Boston area. Sponsored by the Chinese Progressive Association, the program’s mission is to develop and involve youth leadership in the Chinese American community. We strive to accomplish this goal through cultivating awareness around Chinese American issues and providing youth with experience in grassroots community organizing.
CYI was started with the notion that, if given guidance, opportunity, and experience in making a difference, many youth would want to better understand our society and create positive change in their communities. We empower youth through education, leadership skills development, and taking action!
CYI hosts a seven week paid summer internship that provides high school students with the opportunity to learn about and make a difference in the Chinese American community in Boston. The internship covers issues such as worker rights, community stabilization, immigrant rights, and political empowerment. With each topic, interns learn about the history, exlore their personal connection, and take action to improve the conditions for the community. Youth in our program have left with life long friendships and empowered to make change. An application and interview process is required and typically takes place in April and May every year.
The application for the 2021 CYI Summer Internship is now available online at tinyurl.com/cyisummer2021. The application deadline is Monday, April 5, 2021. If you have any questions, you can RSVP for our virtual office hours on Friday, March 26, 3:00-4:00pm and/or email Sarah Wang ([email protected]) to learn more.
Chinese Youth Initiative’s year-round program is open to ALL youth who want to get involved with the Chinatown community. Throughout the year, CYI provides opportunities for youth to develop their leadership and deepen their awareness and involvement in Boston’s Chinatown by taking on different issues and projects that address community issues. Youth can become involved in many different ways! CYI has a monthly event on the last Friday of each month. Interested? Contact the youth coordinator for more information.
Currently, CYI paid Youth Staff are working on a campaign surrounding public transit. Interested in getting involved? Email Erin Chow (erin[at]cpaboston.org) to find out more!
Every June, CYI hosts the annual Chinatown Bike-a-thon fundraiser. This is an opportunity to promote healthy living in our community and raise funds for CYI. We will form a Bike-a-thon committee soon to start preparations. Youth and adults are welcome to join!
Examples of Past CYI Projects :
- Bilingual Ballot: A Community’s Prolonged Fight: Imagine walking into the polls prepared to vote for a candidate of your choice, but when it comes time for you to cast your ballot, you find that everything is in a language you don’t understand. When a poll worker offers to help you cast your ballot, you accept. Unknowingly, the poll worker marks your ballot to serve their own self-interest. This seems outrageous in this day in age, but this was reality 15 years ago for Chinese-immigrant elderly residents in Boston’s Chinatown. in 2018, CYI Youth Staff interviewed 9 community members and created an oral history video to document this 10+ year community struggle. Learn the story of how the community rallied together to secure the bilingual ballot in order to protect and uplift the voice of the community. Whether you’re concerned about public education, housing, or the community’s future, remember the bilingual ballot history and the lesson it teaches: Hold tightly to your rights. Exercise your rights. Fight for your rights. If we don’t, we will lose what has been accomplished and find ourselves back where we started. Only when we raise up our voices can we fight for our interests. To protect our community, register to vote today! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ym-KNQRn43c
- Project AAIYA! Asian American Initiative for Youth Action: High school-aged youth had the opportunity become active leaders in Chinatown through this 10-week volunteer program that provided social justice knowledge, skills, and real opportunities to make positive change. Project AAIYA was a weekly program and youth who participated received volunteer hours.
- Chinatown Library Campaign: Chinatown has been without a library since 1950s when it was torn down to build the highway through the neighborhood. From 2000-2016, CYI worked to bring a library back to Chinatown through advocacy, education, and support of community initiatives such as opening a temporary storefront library and reading room. After over a decade of hard work and collaboration, the City of Boston and Boston Public Library has opened a temporary library in Chinatown in February 2018. This is such an accomplishment for the community! Check out the video made by previous CYI alum about why the Chinatown community needed a library below.
- Chinatown Bike-A-Thon: In CYI’s annual fundraiser, we promote healthy activity, investment in youth, and solidarity as we ride through the bike paths of Boston. We welcome any sponsors and interested riders! As summer approaches, look for more information on the Bike-A-Thon!
- Public Transit for the Public Good: CYI was involved in the Youth Affordability Coalition fighting against fare increases and service cuts to the public transit that our youth and members depend on.
Join the “Chinese Youth Initiative” Facebook group for more updates or e-mail our youth coordinator Erin at erin at cpaboston.org (“@” has been replaced by “at” in the e-mail address to avoid spam).