17 April 2007

Simply Divine

New York City is one huge place. So large, in fact, that I could ride a subway car for nearly two hours and still be in the same city! Add freezing rain and 40mph wind gusts and you’ve got a pleasant little morning of meeting and greeting! It was, of course, totally worth it, as I had the chance to meet with Divine Bradley, an up and coming changemaker who is working to raise the image of doing good.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” That’s certainly what Divine is trying to do with Team Revolution. From there brand new store-front location on Flatlands Avenue in Brooklyn, Divine is working to change the way young people approach their future. His focus is on creating after-school programs that offer kids alternatives to other, lesser-productive activities. “That was me when I was young,” he told me. “I was out there getting into trouble, causing problems. So rather than become part of the problem I decided to work against it.”

It all began on the back porch of his Mom’s Brooklyn home, where he and his friends would get together after school and plan community projects. “Soon there were too many of us and we couldn’t fit on the porch.” Divine thought bigger, turning the entire home into a local community center. Things have only gotten better since then. Team Revolution now offers three core programs aimed at empowering young people.

The first is called L.E.A.D. (Leadership Etiquette & Development). It’s a leadership bootcamp, so to speak. Then there’s The BANK, a financial literacy course aimed at giving these young people a basic understanding of how finance works. The final, and most crucial program is The Fellowship Academy-Social Entrepreneur Network. It is this body that works to connect and unify these now inspired changemakers in a way that offers long-term support for their work.

Team Revolution’s footprint is only getting bigger. They recently worked with Tommy Hilfiger on a partnership program that gave kids the opportunity to actually experience the design world first-hand. Doritos is printing a series of bags that talks about Divine’s work in Brooklyn. He just won a “Brick” award from Do Something for all of his hard work. That came with an additional $25,000 of funding, which he says will be used to take Team Revolution to the next level. “We’re growing. We’re changing. We’re evolving,” he said. “It’s a process.” It certainly is, and a much more exciting process than the one of getting back to Manhattan during evening rush while eating a Philly cheese steak from a Brooklyn deli that you had to wait twenty minutes for because of the after-school rush of kids looking for cheese puffs and Mars bars, all while holding an umbrella that spent more time inside out thanks to the wonderful wind. You gotta love New York!

For more information on Team Revolution please visit their website at www.teamrevolution.org.

For more information on Youth Venture please visit our website at www.genv.net.

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