The Schomburg Center Junior Scholars Program
Each year, 100 youth from 5th through 12th grade participate in the Schomburg Center's Junior Scholars program. This tuition-free Saturday program (10 AM to 3 PM) during the academic year promotes historical literacy through college-style lectures and presentations, group discussions and activities, and project-based learning. Students generate individual research, original writing, art portfolios, and collaborative multimedia arts projects from their intensive study of the Center’s archives and resources.
Through this program, the Schomburg's Junior Scholars increase their historical literacy, expand their knowledge of who they are as intellectual, social, cultural and artistic beings, embrace their legacy as African-American citizens, and learn about the cultures of their prolific and trailblazing ancestors.
In May, the Junior Scholars Program held its 21st annual youth summit Heavy on That: Black Hope in Time(s) of Resistance. The multimedia showcase reflected their yearlong exploration of African diasporic history, politics, literature, and art. It was also a project in response to our young people's resilience, resistance, courage, and compassion in the face of an increasingly changing and challenging world. The youth-led projects were done through music, video production, spoken word, visual arts, and radio journalism.
Applications to the 2023–2024 Junior Scholars class are closed. If there are any questions about the program, please email SiraLewis@nypl.org or call 212-491-2207.
The curriculum for the Junior Scholars Program is dynamic and themes change every year in relation to the Schomburg Center’s lead exhibitions, archival and digital collections, and current events.
It is important to note that the topics covered as part of the Junior Scholars curriculum are not often addressed as part of student’s in-school learning. By highlighting the important contributions that African-Americans have made to U.S. history and culture, the program makes an important impression on participants and instills a deeper understanding about their heritage and the important role they play as citizens. The Junior Scholars Program is unique in that it is one of the only opportunities middle- and high school-aged students in the New York area have to engage in structured, in-depth learning about black history.
A listing of the various types of Junior Scholars curriculum activities:
- Lectures/Seminars featuring leading authorities in African-American & Africana studies
- Video and film screenings
- Cultural arts performances
- Special workshops in music, theater, dance, video production, magazine publication, visual arts and spoken word
- Research projects, with special access to the Schomburg Center collections and exhibitions
- Professional development forums for careers in fields such as business, medicine, law, science, technology, entertainment, education, and performing arts
- Educational tours of New York City historical and cultural sites
- “Teen Talk” book discussion groups that require students to read two books each year
- An Annual Youth Summit, the program’s culminating presentation and celebration in May
“The relationships formed at the Schomburg every Saturday are ever binding. I’ve watched scholars who have gone off to top educational institutions of higher leaning who stay in constant communications with those they have left behind, encouraging us to continue on our journey. As a four-time returning scholar, I am committed to sharing what I have learned with my peers who have not been as fortunate as I have been to be a member of the Junior Scholars Program.” — Taylor, 11th grade, 5th year Junior Scholar
“The Junior Scholars Program also helped me improve my school work. I love reading and at the program we got books from the many people who came to speak with us and encouraged us to learn and understand our culture. I was fascinated with my video project group; I never held a camera like that before nor had I ever visited a newsroom. The Junior Scholars Program not only gave me somewhere to go on Saturdays but provided me with an extension of learning marketable skills at my age.” — Samuel, 6th grade, 3rd year Junior Scholar
“The Junior Scholars Program has made a significant change in my daughter’s life. Before joining the Scholars Program, she was having some issues with her eighth grade school work. After going to the program every Saturday for almost six weeks, I noticed an improvement in her academic performance, and her teachers noticed it too. The Junior Scholars Program opened [my daughter’s] eyes to parts of history that schools dare not to mention. She would come home and teach me things that I had never heard of.” — Leslie, Parent of Sierra, 9th grade, 3rd year Junior Scholar
If you would like to receive information about the Schomburg Center's upcoming public progams, exhibitions, research guides, and more, sign up for our free e-newsletter Schomburg Connection .
Support for the Schomburg Junior Scholars program is made possible through the generosity of Puma, The Carver Scholarship Fund, the New York City Council, and the May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation, Inc.