These Young Business Owners are Closing the Mentorship Gap in Red Hook, Brooklyn


1 in 3 young people will grow up without a mentor in the United States, but that gap is closing in Red Hook, Brooklyn, because of a group of young entrepreneurs with a social mission.

This summer 17 young people took Progress Playbooks youth entrepreneurship program, Start an Empire, in partnership with Red Hook Community Justice Center.

Participants shared their personal stories with violence, incarceration, drugs, and deferred dreams, and also expressed that if they had access to more mentors in Red Hook their stories would have taken a more positive direction. 


After studying the problem more closely, they decided to do something about it, and launched, INTRO, a youth based business dedicated to brining positive vibes to Red Hook by highlighting and recruiting local mentors for young people in their neighborhood. 

In just 6 weeks, the founders of INTRO, received business training, created a business plan, designed a product, and executed a local popup shop, showcasing the mission of their brand to their community. 


At their first popup shop on August 16, 2019, INTRO: 

1) Highlighted 4 local role models who are currently making a difference in young people's lives in Red Hook. 


2) Recruited over 35 new mentors and connected them to 4 youth organizations in Red Hook, including, Red Hook Community Justice Center, Red Hook InitiativeThe Miccio Center and The Alex House Project.

3) Captured the stories of 10 residents who had role models growing up in Red Hook and how they positively impacted their lives. 

4) Made over $1,600 from selling their first branded t-shirt, and donated a portion of their sales to youth mentorship programs in Red Hook.   


Unlocking the full potential in every young person in Red Hook is dependent on connecting them to mentors, as studies show that young people with mentors are 55% more likely to enroll in college, 78% more likely to volunteer regularly, 90% are interested in becoming a mentor and 130% are more likely to hold leadership positions.


Kudos to all 17 founders of INTRO on bringing positive vibes to Red Hook and beyond!


NYC Artists Are Taking Back Their Independence Through Entrepreneurship

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What would NYC be without performing arts and entertainment professionals? 

Actors, dancers, musicians, makeup artists, stage managers and more provide NYC with character and value. 

Because of the episodic nature of their work, low wages, and the rising cost of living, many artists are finding it increasingly challenging to afford to live in NYC, and as a result, they relocate, leave the industry all together, or find alternative sources of income through sideline jobs.

To ensure that artists have the means and flexibility to continue to do what they love in NYC, Progress Playbook teamed up with The Actors Fund to design The Creative Entrepreneurship Project, a program that trains performing arts and entertainment professionals on how to increase their income and independence through business ownership.

Over the last 3 years we have trained over 100 performing arts professionals in NYC to start and grow their own business.

We recently graduated our 6th cohort of artist entrepreneurs, which included health coaches, teaching artists, photographers, graphic designers, chefs, fashion consultants, e-commerce brands, editors, journalists, and more. 

We celebrate their accomplishments and will continue to provide support to the performing arts community because life without the arts, especially in NYC, would be no life at all. 

Brownsville Youth Changing the Narrative of their Neighborhood through Entrepreneurship


If you google Brownsville, Brooklyn you will find that 9 out of 10 media outlets primarily highlight negative stories about the neighborhood, which perpetuates stereotypes, creates shame and unworthiness for many residents.

To change the narrative, 3 teenagers in Brownsville, Brooklyn took our Start an Empire youth entrepreneurship program in partnership with BCJC, and created their own brand called, The Strive, to highlight the positive stories from the people that live and work in the neighborhood.

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Over 3 months, Noel, Iyani, and Jahceti learned about entrepreneurship, community development, cooperative economics and were tasked with doing something to help solve the problem they identified.


The founders of The Strive designed their own t-shirt under their brand with the Brownsville slogan, “Never Ran Never Will”, created a local pop-up shop experience in Brownsville and asked their customers to share a positive experience that they had in the neighborhood.

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Here are some of the stories that we heard:

  • “My growth, development and love for community was birthed in Brownsville”

  • “I raised 3 successful children in Brownsville”

  • “Brownsville’s story of resilience and perseverance inspired hope in me”

  • “Brownsville equals family for me. It’s where I’ve met some of the best people”.

In just a few hours the students in our Start an Empire program brought the community together, created a sense of pride, and made over $1,500.

We are excited to see Brownsville take ownership of its story and inspire change.

Brene Brown said it best, “If you own your story you get to write the ending”.