As a space owned, run and governed by youth, Atlas: DIY empowers members to become community leaders, teaching the tools necessary to advocate, navigate, and succeed. Atlas brings immigrant youth, their allies, and professionals together to explore rights while offering wraparound services.
Founded by an immigration and children’s rights lawyer and three of her former clients, Atlas is built on a model of empowerment for individuals whose status both as youths and as immigrants makes them an extremely vulnerable subset of the population. Specifically, Atlas works with immigrants and their allies ages 14-24 who live in the five boroughs of New York City.
Atlas: DIY is the first center of its kind in the United States. At Atlas we work with immigrants to create programming in a cooperative environment based on the principles of inclusiveness, empowerment, and mutual benefit. We ensure that our members become active agents of change not only in their own lives, but in their communities as a whole. We carry out programs in three ways. First, by developing our own curriculum such as our Immigrant Youth Peer Educator Program (IYPEP). We also partner with local organizations to connect their programs with our community. Thirdly, our members run in-house activities like our College Club. On a largescale our programs bridge the inequality gap by empowering vulnerable communities and by building a movement for just immigration reform. On an individual level we enable members to break through barriers and achieve their goals.
Our office in Sunset Park, Brooklyn boasts a legal suite to ensure confidentiality, donation closets, food pantries, our activity room, a balcony furnished with hammocks, and a garden created by our members. As one member poignantly stated, “Here in New York, in the United States, I have no family. Atlas is my family. Atlas isn’t my second home, it is my home.”
Moreover, we are able to reach thousands of immigrant youth through our interactive website, which provides rewards for sharing and community building as well as through our innovative YouTube series, which teaches viewers how to properly fill out their immigration forms. This outreach enables us to reach largely isolated and invisible populations, channel growth, and take the mystery out of legal challenges facing undocumented youth.
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