Brownsville in Brooklyn hasn't always had the best reputation. Our latest New Yorker of the Week is doing his best to change that.
The idea that change "starts from the ground up" is what drives Quardean Lewis-Allen.
"Young people have so much potential -- an untapped genius. And I think my role, and our role is to be the people that we needed growing up," Lewis-Allen said.
Growing up in his native Brownsville wasn't always easy.
It's a neighborhood that's long struggled with poverty and crime.
Lewis-Allen experienced it first-hand.
His uncle -- who he lived with -- was shot and killed more than 20 years ago.
"It makes you think about how long life really is. It makes you take a step back think about what you can accomplish," Lewis-Allen said.
To him it meant giving back to his neighborhood.
A love of art and architecture took him to all the way to Harvard's Graduate School of Design.
But no matter his success as an architect, Lewis-Allen says he always planned to come back home.
In 2013, he launched "Made in Brownsville."
It's a non-profit dedicated to giving young people in the neighborhood more access to technology, art, and design education -- for free.
"If there isn't a space in which young people can access STEM education, and tinker, and be brilliant and foster that brilliance with mentorship, they're not going to be competitive in the changing economy moving forward," Lewis-Allen said.
Nearly 100 teens have graduated from the program.
They've learned graphic and fashion design, coding, and photography.
Jamar Smith is one of them.
"It's changed my life a lot because before I got into this, I was very bad -- getting locked up. He makes sure he puts others before himself. And that's something good about him," Smith said.
Lewis-Allen says he just wants to give young people and Brownsville the opportunity to shine.
"If you dream the biggest possible dream for yourself, you never know what life may have in store for you," Lewis-Allen said.
And so for giving youth in Brownsville a creative pathway toward success, Quardean Lewis-Allen is our New Yorker of the Week.