Harlem YMCA to Honor College-Bound Teens with a Focus on Racial Equity in Higher Ed at 52nd Annual bai Achievers in Industry Gala

14 March 2024
chris foster speaks at BAI gala

The bai initiative helps NYC teens achieve their higher education goals through mentorship from business and public sector partners such as The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

NEW YORK, NY – On March 14, the Harlem YMCA will host the 52nd Annual bai Achievers in Industry Gala at the Marriott Marquis. The bai initiative is designed to help college-bound teens navigate and excel in higher education through mentorship, career readiness opportunities, and financial support to help empower these teens into adulthood. At the gala, the Y will honor college-bound scholarship recipients and key partners, including The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The event will be hosted by ABC News personality DeMarco Morgan, and entertainment will be provided by world-renowned violinist and Jamaica YMCA alumnus and board member, Damien Escobar. This year’s theme is "Celebrating Success, Developing Leaders, and Cultivating Communities."
Supporting a class of 70 NYC teens each year, the bai initiative is composed of four primary elements: Professional Mentoring Program, Historical Black College Tour, Corporate Scholarship Program, and Corporate Internship Program. These four elements connect young people with mentorship, internship, networking, and development opportunities that support their educational, social, and personal goals. The initiative enables students to gain a firsthand look at how a college campus functions via tours of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and provides scholarship amounts of $2,500 per eligible recipient to offset some of the students’ educational expenses. Through the bai initiative, the Harlem YMCA has honored more than 4,600 corporate executives, raised over $2.2M, and awarded more than 850 scholarship awards.
"Throughout its history, the Harlem Y has been the beating heart of Harlem, with its powerful combination of programming, services, and the bai initiative," said Sharon Greenberger, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater New York. "Our storied history in this community makes us all the more proud to celebrate the success of our Youth Achievers – who represent our future leaders – and our remarkable partners, who continue to support and make the bai initiative possible.”
“At the Harlem YMCA, we remain dedicated to meeting the community's needs by removing obstacles and offering pathways to success through mentorship, internships, and our impactful HBCU college tour. None of this would be possible without the unwavering support of our generous sponsors. As we eagerly look to the future, the Harlem YMCA, through bai, remains committed to fostering opportunities and empowering our youth," said Christopher Foster, Executive Director of the Harlem YMCA.
The Dr. Leo B. Marsh Memorial Award was established by the Achievers in Industry Committee in 1980 to commemorate Dr. Marsh - the founder of the Harlem Y’s bai program. Charles Coleman, Jr. is the 2024 honoree. He is a veteran civil rights attorney and one of the preeminent legal minds promoting equal employment opportunity (EEO) and diversity and inclusion efforts across the country. Formerly a prosecutor in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, Charles now runs his own practice specializing in EEO law, human resources, and human capital solutions. He is also the founder of the non-profit Edge Movement, a mentorship program focused on helping young men in New York City prepare for college and their future careers. Additionally, Charles is a legal analyst for MSNBC and a civic activist.
The 2024 honoree for the Carrie Terrell Youth Achiever Award – named after the first and only woman to enjoy emeritus status at the Harlem Y – is the extraordinary Carl Clarke, Jr. Carl is a high school senior and volleyball player who participates in the Y’s Rowe Scholars and Leaders Club at the Vanderbilt YMCA. His self-determination to evolve from average student to scholar and role model was aided by the programs at the YMCA, which have given him the tools to pursue his interest in technology and robotics. Carl plans to major in Computer Science and minor in Cybersecurity when he starts college in the fall.
The Deloitte Corporate Community Award is given to a corporation which has excelled as a leader in promoting opportunity, education, and personal growth for youth in the communities they serve. This year’s honoree is the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, one of the longest standing programmatic and financial supporters of the bai initiative. It has also served as an internship destination for bai participants. The Port Authority’s commitment to the professional development of young people, as well as the betterment of our environment, has made them excellent partners that help bai students succeed.
At the Achievers in Industry Gala, the Harlem YMCA and its corporate partners will also present 8 Achievers Awards, 1 Rising Star Award, and 30 scholarships to an outstanding class of potential leaders of tomorrow.
The Harlem YMCA’s Achievers in Industry (bai) program was founded in 1971 by the late Dr. Leo B. Marsh, who was the first Black president of the Association of the YMCA and was committed to helping youth fulfill their dreams and aspirations. This venture was designed to unite the resources of home, school, and community, supporting young people in reaching their academic goals.