Part of the Food Policy Community Spotlight series
Name: The Brotherhood Sister Sol
What they do: For nearly 30 years, The Brotherhood Sister Sol (BroSis) has been at the forefront of social justice, educating, organizing and training to challenge inequity and champion opportunity for all. With a focus on Black and Latinx youth, BroSis is where young people claim the power of their history, identity and community to build the future they want to see.
The BroSis Environmental Program has been designed to 1) Educate, support, and inspire the next generation of environmentalists; 2) Improve the quality of life of local community residents; 3) Serve as an urban Environmental Education model for schools and other community-based organizations; 4) Advance the global struggle for environmental justice.
Program activities are focused around 4 Core Themes: Food Empowerment, Sustainable Design, Horticulture Science and Community Organizing. Program participants manage a weekly youth-run Farmers’ Market; maintain the Frank White Memorial Garden (a 6,000sq/ft urban farm and community garden); and engage in year-round activities focused on gaining a broad understanding of environmental issues, obtaining green economy job skills, developing leadership skills, and supporting the long-term sustainability of the community. As active participants in these activities our members have the opportunity to earn certifications in various fields, including composting, tree pruning, and water harvesting.
How they do it:
Approximately 90 young people (ages 8-18) participate in the BroSis Environmental Program on a weekly basis, with hundreds of additional youth impacted throughout the year.
Their high school aged members engage in hands-on training in Food Justice, Horticulture Science, Sustainable Design and Community Organizing. Members receive over 100 hours of training per year, and engage in over 200 hours of environmental work. Responsibilities include managing the weekly youth-run Farmers Market, providing live cooking demonstrations for community residents, maintaining the community garden, growing food in our farming beds and aquaponic system, engaging in community beautifying projects, and many other activities.
Middle and elementary school members engage in weekly age appropriate educational sessions designed to broaden their awareness of environmental issues, healthy eating, and spark their interest in nature and the environment. The curriculum includes hands-on activities in the community garden during the spring and fall, and indoor cooking classes, experiments and other lessons in the winter.
In May 2022, BroSis completed construction and moved into their new 22,000sq/ft headquarters, which features a state of the art media lab, art room, library, auditorium, a variety of program spaces, a rooftop basketball court and a teaching kitchen staffed by the executive chef and team. Along with the new building they are finalizing the construction of a greenhouse, maintained by members of the Environmental Program, that will be dedicated to growing produce used within the kitchen. Click here to see pictures of the new space, and here to watch “Building a Beacon”, a short film about what the building will mean for BroSis and our youth.
BroSis has earned national recognition for their work, receiving funding from a host of national funders, including Doris Duke Foundation, Marlene Nathan Meyerson Foundation, Charles Hayden Foundation, NBA Foundation, Kraft Heinz, New York Community Trust, Comic Relief/Red Nose Day, William Stamps Farish Foundation, and more.
Interesting fact about how it is working to positively affect the food system:
BroSis recently expanded their capacity to advocate for food justice with the hiring of an environmental organizer, an alumni member of BroSis, who will support campaigns to increase healthy food access within the community. BroSis also supports the maintenance of the 6,000sq/ft Frank White Memorial Garden, an urban oasis that features an aquaponics system, greenhouse, and urban farm growing over 30 varieties of fruit and vegetables.
Core Programs: The Brotherhood Sister Sol’s environmental efforts include:
- The BroSis Green Youth Market- Youth members run this affordable farmers’ market where they sell over 2.5 tons of fresh and healthy food annually to hundreds of local residents.
- Composting- Members of the program design original composting bins and implement them throughout the community.
- Landscape Design- Members brainstorm and create new components of their community garden to prioritize regenerative agriculture and ethical farming techniques.
- Innovative Growing Techniques – At BroSis’s Frank White Memorial Garden, more than 20 varieties of fruits and vegetables are grown using a variety of gardening techniques. Produce is sold at the youth market or distributed to the Harlem community.
- Community Organizing- Members conduct workshops with their peers to work towards community improvements and also partner in campaigns around food justice. BroSis just hired a community organizer, an alumna of the program, to expand this aspect of their environmental program’s work
Number of staff: 43 full-time employees
Number of volunteers: Hundreds
Areas served: Harlem
Year Started: 1995
Executive Director and Co-Founder
Associate Executive Director and Co-Founder
140 Hamilton Place
512 West 143rd Street, NY NY 10031
New York, NY 10031