Grantee Spotlight: Developing Youth Leaders In New York City

Grantee spotlight: Rachel Geller, New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault

The New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault has been a leader in sexual violence prevention programs since 2007, and RALIANCE is proud to count them among our grantees. Their challenge is massive: preventing sexual violence and the harm it causes in one of the world’s largest and most diverse cities.

“Each New York City borough, neighborhood, and city block is unique, which means there is never a one-size-fits-all approach to preventing sexual violence – we have to be continually adaptable and responsive,” said Rachel Geller, the Alliance’s Director of Prevention & Policy.

We sat down with Geller to discuss the organization’s mission and its RALIANCE-supported effort to boost its youth leadership program.

RALIANCE: Can you describe the Alliance’s efforts to prevent sexual violence, harassment, and abuse?

Geller: Our prevention and community mobilization programs aim to develop sustainable community-based interventions to prevent sexual violence. This includes building the capacity of individuals, organizations, and institutions to analyze the impact of sexual violence and providing them with the skills to develop interventions that best fit the needs of their community. Our current sexual violence prevention efforts focus on youth leadership and prevention in the nightlife industry and on college campuses.

RALIANCE: A new RALIANCE grant will help fund your youth leadership program. How does the program work?

Geller: Project Dream, Own, Tell (DOT), our youth leadership program, is a grassroots program that combines community-responsive prevention education with robust neighborhood and social media-based organizing efforts for young adults from under-resourced communities. The program was designed in response to gaps in traditional adolescent sexual and dating violence prevention programs, often known to be homogenous and non-inclusive. Project DOT has been structured to build a discourse that’s nuanced and responsive to the community. In practice this means incorporating the unique narratives, rich histories, and strong communal values of youth of diverse backgrounds.

RALIANCE’s grant will help the Alliance further develop our prevention efforts to meet youth where they are by sustainably expanding the reach of Project DOT and thus amplifying the impact of our sexual assault prevention work. We plan to partner with two or more organizations serving youth from racial and ethnic minorities or the LGBTQI community. We’ll collaborate with the organizations to pinpoint where we can adapt the leadership curriculum to specifically serve these communities. 

RALIANCE: How will you measure Project DOT’s success, and how do you hope the program will contribute to the Alliance’s future?

Geller: We’ll think holistically about Project DOT’s impact and the process of adaptation, assessing whether it reached the target communities, the satisfaction of our partner organizations and participants, and how well the curriculum resonated.

An evaluation will also assess whether the program increased youth knowledge of healthy relationships within their cultural context and whether that knowledge translated into changed attitudes, greater community youth and adult engagement, changes in social norms, and reduction in the rates of youth dating violence and sexual violence in the target populations. If we determine the program’s effective, we hope to further expand its reach by tailoring the curriculum for additional organizations and communities.

RALIANCE provides consulting, assessment, and employee development services to help build more equitable workplace cultures and create environments free from sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse. We stand ready to support your organization’s goals – contact us today at [email protected] to get started.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter