September 2, 2016

The garden that 50 Cent built provides opportunity for at-risk teens

Here are three stories from communities around the U.S. that will inspire you

In da garden: A garden can be a healing place, a serene spot to reconnect with nature. For the teens at the Queens Youth Justice Center in New York City, it’s also space for learning. The alternative-to-detention program brings groups of at-risk students to volunteer at the Curtis “50 Cent” Community Garden, named after the rapper who helped fund the site and who grew up in the neighborhood. The garden is one of the rare green spaces in the Queens community where public parks make up only 3 percent of total acreage. Heather Butts with H.E.A.LT.H. For Youths, the nonprofit that helped establish the park, told CityLab that working in the garden can be calming for the kids, and helps them get away from the stresses in their lives. “It gets you active, it teaches you about responsibility, it teaches you about caring for something outside of yourself. If you become a good gardener, you’ve learned all of that.” For students like 10th grader Tatiana, who was sent to the program after several school absences and a handful of petty crimes, it also gives them a sense of accomplishment. She told reporter Ellie Anzilotti: “I feel like I’ve helped to make something.”

Thank you for being a friend: The Bea Arthur Residence, a shelter serving homeless LGBT youth, is slated to open in the East Village in New York City in February, DNAinfo reported. The 18-bed shelter is named after the “Golden Girls” actress and LGBT rights champion who was a great supporter of the Ali Forney Center, the nonprofit that will help run the shelter. Upon her death in 2009, Arthur left $300,000 to the organization. The building, which has been gutted and renovated, originally was scheduled to open this summer. The center will provide beds and counseling to the city’s homeless gay and transgender youth.

Start me up: Entrepreneurship in America is on the rise, according to the latest report from the Kauffman Foundation. The report’s authors note that business creation is finally on the rise following the Great Recession and has increased for the second consecutive year after reaching its lowest level in the past two decades in 2013. Other interesting stats: There was an increase in startups in 23 out of the 40 largest metro areas and in 30 of the 50 states; and 889,000 jobs were created by these new businesses, the highest such figure since 2008.

See a story that inspires you? Send it to The Renewal Project editor Margaret Myers at

Margaret Myers

The Renewal Project editor