D.A. Vance, Partners Announce Citywide Expansion of Signature “Saturday Night Lights” Youth Program


September 9, 2019

Program Now Operating at 20 Sites Citywide, Including Eight in Outer Boroughs

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the citywide expansion of “Saturday Night Lights” (SNL), the Office’s signature youth violence prevention program. The Manhattan D.A.’s Office is investing $1.4 million seized in investigations against major banks to expand SNL citywide. The expansion adds eight SNL sites in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island, as well additional sites in Manhattan. Programming at most sites begins today.

District Attorney Vance said: “Saturday Night Lights is proof that major investments in young people can bring law enforcement closer to the communities we serve and, ultimately, build stronger, safer communities. Over the last eight years, we’ve grown SNL from a basketball program at a single site in West Harlem to a network serving thousands of teens with world-class sports programming in their own neighborhoods across Manhattan. I am thrilled to announce that with today’s $1.4 million investment and the strong collaboration of my fellow District Attorneys, Saturday Night Lights will now enrich and inspire kids across the five boroughs.”

D.A, Vance announced the expansion at the Corsi Community Center in East Harlem alongside fellow district attorneys, law enforcement agencies, and partners from more than 20 youth service providers.

Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark said, “I am thrilled that the Bronx will host three Saturday Night Lights programs—one for basketball, one for soccer and one for dance. Providing constructive, enjoyable activities in a safe space on Saturday nights will help prevent crime. I thank Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance for funding this important program that will instill teamwork, leadership and a sense of community in our young people through rewarding sports and social activities.”

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said, “In Brooklyn, we are excited that the Saturday Night Lights program, which exists in East New York, is now expanding to East Flatbush and Brownsville, thanks to the generosity of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. These terrific programs give our children a place to spend their Saturday nights in a safe and productive environment where they not only learn sports and sportsmanship, but help our children build confidence and develop life skills. This is a valuable investment in communities that often lack the resources and facilities to constructively engage young people and complements our existing youth programs such as our Chess Partnership, our Explorers Program, our Anti-Bullying Initiative and our Brooklyn Scholars program.” 

Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer said: “The Saturday Night Lights program is a great way to build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. I thank D.A. Vance for continuing to invest in such an important resource.”

Saturday Night Lights

Saturday Night Lights is a youth development program that activates community spaces, connects youth to resources, and builds trust between law enforcement and communities. Founded in 2011 by District Attorney Vance, SNL unlocks underutilized gyms and recreational facilities on Saturday nights – when youth violence has historically been highest – with free, high-quality sports, dance, and fitness programming. It is estimated that SNL has already served more than 12,000 young people across New York City.

Citywide Expansion

Since its creation, Saturday Night Lights has expanded from a basketball program operating at a single site in West Harlem to a network of 20 sites offering basketball, soccer, dance, and flag football across the five boroughs. Now, D,A. Vance is investing $1.4 million seized in investigations against major banks to expand SNL citywide. With today’s announcement, SNL is now operating at the following locations:

Manhattan:

  • Henry Street Settlement’s Boys and Girls Republic (888 East 6th Street)
  • Harvey Milk High School (2 Astor Place)
  • Elbridge T. Gerry, Jr. Clubhouse (321 East 111th Street)
  • Corsi Community Center (307 East 116th Street)
  • S. 57 (176 East 115th Street)
  • Fredrick Samuel Community Center (669 Lenox Avenue)
  • Pologrounds Cornerstone (3005 8th Avenue)
  • Riverside Church – Gold’s Gym (91 Claremont Avenue)
  • Manhattanville Community Center (530 West 133rd Street)
  • Armory Center (216 Fort Washington Avenue)
  • JHS 143 – Eleanor Roosevelt La Plaza Beacon School (515 West 182nd Street)
  • S. 173 (306 Fort Washington Avenue)

Brooklyn:

  • Winthrop Beacon Community Center (905 Winthrop Street)
  • Prince Joshua Avitto Community Center (876 Schenck Avenue)

Bronx:

  • Hostos-Lincoln Academy of Science (600 St. Ann’s Avenue)
  • Webster Center (2255 Webster Avenue)
  • Jill Chaifetz Transfer School (778 Forest Avenue)

Queens:

  • August Martin High School (156-10 Baisley Boulevard)

Staten Island:

  • S. 49 (101 Warren Street)
  • S. 44 (80 Maple Parkway)

More information about the program, including schedules, playing times, and sports offerings for each site, is available on the SNL website.

Paul Jeffries, Senior Director of Community Development for the New York City Football Club, said: “New York City FC is proud to be a part of the success of the Saturday Night Lights program through our work with City in the Community foundation. Our goal is to provide New York City youth with free access to soccer, and our Saturday Night Lights soccer program has seen exponential growth over the years in both our boys and girls programs. We’ve seen the positive impact the program has had on our youth with a 95% participant retention and 100% high school graduation rate in 2019. We are thrilled that the proven impact of Saturday Night Lights will now be expanded across all five boroughs and help us reach even more young New Yorkers.”

David Garza, President and Chief Executive Officer of Henry Street Settlement, said: “Henry Street Settlement applauds the expansion of Saturday Night Lights, a youth development program that has an outsized impact on New York City youth, including the hundreds of Lower East Side young people we serve at Boys & Girls Republic. By modeling sportsmanship and providing mentoring from positive adult role models, this program’s effect on individual lives goes well beyond recreation, helping nurture a generation of young people who are connected to their community, motivated to continue their educations, and positioned for future success as a result of their involvement.  We are profoundly grateful for our partnership with the District Attorney’s office and look forward to continued work together in support of the youth and families we serve.”

Thomas Krever, Chief Executive Officer of the Hetrick-Martin Institute, said: “The Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI) is deeply honored and grateful to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., and his entire team for their citywide expansion of “Saturday Night Lights” (SNL). By including LGBTQ young people in this signature youth violence prevention program, DA Vance is helping to safeguard a population that is still so disproportionately affected by violence. SNL will allow HMI to continue to provide culturally-inclusive programs that speak to the strengths of this wonderfully resilient population.”

Shannon Scheenman, Executive Director of America SCORES New York, said: “This opportunity came at the perfect time for America SCORES New York. The concept of providing a safe space through soccer drives our ‘Kicking It Forward’ program which is designed for High School aged alumni of our soccer, poetry and community service after-school program. The opportunity for these girls and boys to gather, play and create memories will be truly empowering.”

Anthony Passalacqua of Shootin’ School Basketball Program said: “As a facilitator of youth sports for the past 10 years, Shootin’ School Basketball is excited to be a part of the Saturday Night Lights initiative. We are looking forward to providing our service in a new location where we plan on working with players of all skill levels that will benefit from our instruction.”

Kevin Steward, Associate Program Director of the Riverside Hawks, said: “The Riverside Hawks would like to take this time to commend the DA’s office creating this community engagement program and we are excited for this partnership to flourish over the next 2 years. And to our community partners, let’s continue to collaborate and provide kids opportunity to build their skills every Saturday.”

#InvestInYouth

SNL is one of several Manhattan D.A.’s Office youth development initiatives designed to reduce crime, offer support, and prevent young people from becoming involved with the criminal justice system. D.A. Vance additionally created Project Reset, a pre-arraignment diversion program for 16- and 17-year-olds which provides free service interventions in lieu of prosecutions for low-level offenses. In 2017, District Attorney Vance invested $58 million in youth and family services, including five “Youth Opportunity Hubs,” which provide comprehensive services like educational assistance, mentorship, and employment training for children, teens, and young adults in underserved neighborhoods. And last year, D.A. Vance launched the Office’s Gun Control Advocacy Fellowship, which provides high school and college students who have been personally affected by gun violence a platform to advocate for strong gun laws.