NEW YORK - Brotherhood/Sister Sol has been helping young people reach their potential for 25 years. But it’s about to take a big step into the future.
Co-Founders Khary Lazarre-White and Jason Warwin are in the process of transforming the organization’s Harlem headquarters.
A brownstone once stood on 143rd Street and served as the home of Bro-Sis until 2018. But that building has since been demolished, and will soon be replaced by a six story, 20,000 square foot youth center adjacent to the group’s pre-existing community garden.
"A beacon of light for the youth in our community, a place that they will call home, a home away from home. A model that can be replicated in other places. This will be the essence of what we do," said Brotherhood/Sister Sol Associate Executive Director and Co-Founder Jason Warwin.
“We believe our young people deserve a wonderful beautiful building, in the same way there are wonderful beautiful buildings for business and for real estate, so should there be for young people and education," said Brotherhood/Sister Sol Executive Director and Co-Founder Khary Lazarre-White.
Bro-Sis works to provide members with a holistic system of support based on academic achievement and personal development - with an especially strong focus on mentorship that builds over multiple years.
"The relationships between the adult mentors and the young people become so intense, so that through all those difficult adolescent years, which are difficult for all people, they have somebody to go to and help guide them," Lazarre-White said.
"Helping them to think about their futures, how to overcome challenges in their lives, but also what it is they want to achieve in their lives, and what’s the direction in their lives they need to head in to get there," Warwin said.
Dashirah Lucas, Trevor Walsh, and Gisela Rosa are Bro-Sis alumni, now in college. All three credit Bro-Sis with giving them a foundation for success.
"It showed me the value of life, and definitely with brotherhood, how to be a man, how to be a brother, how to be a leader. I walk with it every day, everywhere I go - at work, at school, at home," Walsh said.
"How to navigate the society we live in currently today as a woman, especially a woman of color - that was essential for me," Lucas said.
I was like a plant that needed water, and they were like the water that I needed and the sunlight I needed to grow as an individual," said Rosa. "Everyone can be a leader, I learned that at Bro-Sis - it takes time but everyone can be a leader.”
As it works with young people, Bro-Sis has a strong commitment to social justice and encourages members to engage in political activism.
"One of the messages we constantly return to is the role of young people in transforming this country in every movement that’s been important in this country - whether it is the civil rights movement, the womens movement, the LGBTQ movement, the effort to end the Vietnam War - young people have been at the forefront of these conversations. So we don’t see young people as the leaders of the future, but actually leaders today," Lazarre-White said.
Brotherhood/Sister Sol plans to move into its new headquarters this fall.