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Bedford-Stuyvesant Youth in Action Collection

Call Number



1957-2012, inclusive
; 1965-1972, bulk


Bedford-Stuyvesant Youth in Action


4.59 Linear Feet in 7 document boxes, 1 oversize box

Language of Materials

English .


Documents relating to Bedford-Stuyvesant Youth in Action, a social action organization operating in the Bedford-Stuyvesant community from 1963-1978. The organization focused on community revitalization through programs targeted at underprivileged youth.

Historical Note

Youth in Action, Inc. (YIA) was formed in 1963 when the Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council received a grant to develop a youth services program in the Bedford-Stuyvesant community. The Council decided to create YIA as its own organization rather than running it under the umbrella of the Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council. Early staff members drew inspiration from existing social action organizations such as Mobilization for Youth and Harlem Youth Opportunities (HARYOU), spending the first months of operation researching and reporting on the needs of the Bedford-Stuyvesant community.

The passing of the Economic Opportunities Act of 1964 allowed YIA continued funding and led to the development of programs such as Training for Young Unwed Mothers, Youth Leadership Training Institute, Educational Remediation, and Cultural Arts. The increased funds allowed the organization to expand quickly, with many of their new hires coming from the community.

In July 1966 employees protested the organization, accusing them of under-representing the Puerto Rican population of Bedford-Stuyvesant and demanded that the organization's programs take more direct action in the community. The protests were followed by employee resignations, including Executive Director Dorothy Orr. Orr was replaced by Walter Pinkston, who served as Executive Director until his termination in September 1969.

A 1966 amendment to the Economic Opportunities Act called for greater involvement of community members in the social action organizations that represented them. YIA responded by converting to the Bedford-Stuyvesant Youth in Action Community Corporation. Over 500 community members voted unanimously for the conversion which was approved by the Council Against Poverty in March 1967. A new Board of Directors was elected by community members to represent Bedford-Stuyvesant's five sub-districts.

By 1967 YIA had a staff of 300 with an additional 1,300 training aids and received $6.4 million dollars for the 1967-1968 fiscal year. The funds were directed to a variety of programs including job training, legal services and the popular Young Mothers program. The organization's rapid expansion allowed for increased services but also accusations of fund mismanagement, administrative oversight and cronyism. Years of factionalism and political in-fighting further destabilized the organization's mission, resulting in the June 1976 suspension of the Board of Directors. The organization was disbanded by the Koch administration in 1978.


The collection is arranged in three series:

Series I: Contains seven subseries arranged by topic. Folders under each subseries are grouped by topic and arranged chronologically.

Series II: Contains nine subseries arranged alphabetically by organization. Folders under each subseries are grouped by topic and arranged chronologically.

Series III: Contains three folders arranged by topic.

Oversize folders are arranged by subseries in Box 8.

Scope and Contents

The first series of this collection consists of documents relating to the founding and daily operations of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Youth in Action organization. These documents make up the bulk of the collection and include administrative papers, meeting minutes, and promotional materials. Also included are studies and reports written by Youth in Action and outside organizations to assess community needs and concerns.

The second series includes documents relating to other community organizations operating simultaneously or prior to Youth in Action. These organizations served as models, partners and rivals to Youth in Action.

The third and smallest series includes personal documents from Sydney Moshette Jr. a probation officer and original Youth in Action board member. These include various papers written and collected during his time at New York University Graduate School of Public Administration and Social Service. Also included are miscellaneous notes and correspondence.


This collection is located in the Brooklyn Collection at Brooklyn Public Library's Central Branch at Grand Army Plaza. The collection may only be used in the library and is not available through interlibrary loan. Requests to view the collection must be made at least 48 hours in advance of visit.


While many items in the Brooklyn Collection are unrestricted, we do not own reproduction rights to all materials. Be aware of the several kinds of rights that might apply: copyright, licensing and trademarks. The researcher assumes all responsibility for copyright questions.

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as the Bedford-Stuyvesant Youth in Action Collection, Brooklyn Public Library – Brooklyn Collection.


This collection was compiled by Dr. Don Watkins and Sydney Moshette Jr. and gifted to David Rosner. Mr. Roser passed the collection to Mike Woodsworth who donated it to the Brooklyn Collection on July 12, 2016.

Related Archival Materials note

Brooklyn Archival Files – Bedford-Stuyvesant

Economic Development Programs in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York, under the Special Impact Program : Report to the Congress. U.S. General Accounting Office, 1973

Purnell, Brian. A movement grows in Brooklyn: the Brooklyn chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the northern civil rights movement during the early 1960's. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI 2006

Records of the Brooklyn Council for Social Planning, Brooklyn Public Library – Brooklyn Collection.

Rioghan Kirchner Civil Rights in Brooklyn Collection, Brooklyn Collection, Brooklyn Public Library.

Woodsworth, Michael. Battle for Bed-Stuy, The Long War on Poverty in New York City. Harvard University Press, 2016.

Collection processed by

Sarah Quick, Reference Archivist

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-21 11:19:35 +0000.
Language: Description is written in: English, Latin script.


Brooklyn Collection
Center for Brooklyn History
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201