Topic: Commitments of High-Impact Nonprofits:

  • Advancing Equity

Over the past four decades, SCAN New York has experienced profound environmental obstacles to achieving its mission to serve the highest risk youth and families residing in East Harlem and the South Bronx. SCAN has encountered contemporary challenges related to serving crew/gang involved youth as well as providing outreach/services for LGBTQ youth. Challenges have emerged from a multitude of sources including the board, staff, community, and greater nonprofit and government cultures.

This workshop will explore the commonalities in challenges SCAN is experiencing as well as the government’s role in supporting a commitment to equity. A main challenge is the powerful cultural stigma that comes with welcoming crew/gang youth and LGBTQ youth to a community/settlement. So, SCAN has been faced with raising the consciousness of staff and the board for an unfolding of outreach in a safe and supportive manner. SCAN will share its approach in this vital first step as well as the role of government in support of this effort to serve vulnerable youth. 

Approaching this challenge through an empowerment/positive youth development frame once again engenders significant staff, board, and community resistance. The need to raise consciousness and meaningfully focus on mission is self-evident. Beyond this, an organization needs to provide successful evidence based-models to further realize an empowerment/positive youth development services frame. evidence based models used to realize objectives.

This session also will explore the current mass incarceration crisis afflicting youth in inner cities, the victimization of youth through a negative, punitive criminal justice system, and alternatives. 

Delivery Method: Initial discussion will outline challenges regarding establishing Equity inner city based initiatives, to support LGBTQ and crew/gang affiliated young people. Said challenges will be viewed emanating from Board, Staff and Community. Questions will be encouraged.

Learning Objectives

  • How to analyze and work through perceived challenges to programming for LGBTQ and crew/gang youth in the inner city
  • Emotional issues among staff, board, and community members that may impede the full acceptance and support for equity programming
  • A spiritual and ethical frame for equity-driven initiatives that address critical social injustices
  • Evidence-based, positive/empowerment youth development models that address vulnerability of LGBTQ and crew/gang affiliated youth


  • Lew Zuchman, executive director, SCAN New York

Lew Zuchman
Executive Director
SCAN New York

Lew Zuchman has been the executive director of SCAN New York for the past 30 years. During this period, SCAN has grown to become the largest youth and family service provider in the East Harlem and South Bronx. Zuchman was an original 1961 Freedom Rider and prominent 1960s civil rights activist. His civil rights activism has been acknowledged in various literary (Breach of Peace, Freedom Riders, etc.) documentary (Grandpa was a Freedom Rider, etc.) and media outlets (The Washington Post, NPR, CBS, NY One, etc.). Zuchman’s social justice zeal has marked SCAN’s unique path to addressing critical inequities imperiling the lives of vulnerable East Harlem/South Bronx LGBTQ and crew/gang affiliated young people. Zuchman is chairperson of the Human Service Consortium of East Harlem as well as an adjunct professor at the City College of New York and a civil rights spokesperson for Facing History and Ourselves.