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One Young Person’s Success: Zuri-Shaddai

Zuri is a young New Yorker of Jamaican, Cuban, Guyanese, and Bangladeshi descent. When Zuri first joined EVC from Lower East Side Preparatory High School, a transfer school (so-called “second-chance schools”) he was already a strong communicator. By participating in two consecutive semesters of EVC workshops, Zuri developed his strong people skills into community leadership. He learned to share his opinions publicly and lead class discussions, while building values around community including a commitment to service, equitable collaboration, and empathetic listening.

While at EVC, Zuri learned to turn toward his community in the following ways: He presented his group's film “1822: Hear Our Testimony” to EVC’s board of directors at their annual retreat. The documentary included an original rap performance, in support of the LGBTQ+ community, performed by Zuri and another student and filmed in front of the famed Stonewall Inn. Zuri also co-hosted EVC’s virtual Docs & Dialogue screening of the 2021 film “Behind My Happy Face,” for Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and of the 1992 film “We, The People,” for Native American Heritage Month. Finally, he gave his time to support new educators in EVC’s inaugural Credible Educators cohort. He served as an expert interviewee in their practice documentary, which asked whether teaching and producing documentary films could help dismantle oppressive systems, such as racial inequalities in schools.

EVC alumni Cirilo (left) and Zuri (right) making tacos at EVC’s annual retreat

In short, as Zuri became immersed in EVC’s pedagogy—which deepens the skills and wellbeing of young individuals by embedding them more deeply in their communities’ culture, stories, struggles, and solutions—-he developed his communications talents as a tool for lifting up his community.

Reflecting on his time at EVC, Zuri notes: “[EVC] is a beautiful thing, and I can say that I will certainly use their open-minded approach in my future life. Thank you EVC.”

Zuri now attends Borough of Manhattan Community College where he studies engineering.


Zuri’s story is just one of the many things EVC community members can celebrate about this past year. As a cherished member of the EVC family, you have so many reasons to be proud of the organization that your hard work supports.

It’s time for our winter campaign! To help celebrate EVC’s tremendous accomplishments this past year, I hope you will consider making your tax-deductible gift today, by following this link. Any donation you make before the end of this year can, of course, be claimed on your 2022 taxes.

Please make your donation today, right now, and stay tuned for an announcement about our Jan. 11th Winter Cocktail, which this year will be held in-person at New York City’s SVA theater!


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