Tag Archives: New York

STOKED’s Continuing Education

Our former Outreach Manager, Kate West, used to make jokes all the time when she’d witness you doing something and feeling proud or accomplished, saying “empowering [name] through [activity]!” For example, “Empowering Sophia through Excel budgets!” It’s a riff on our old tagline, Empowering Youth Though Action Sports, the irony being that while STOKED is a youth development organization, it develops and empowers our staff as well. Even in the most mundane activities, like learning some new flashy chops in Excel.

Keeping in mind the perspective that the more educated, with it, and knowledgeable our staff is the better our work will  be, we’ve started a new professional development initiative here in the office: STOKED Reading Club. (Note that, unlike traditional book clubs, this one isn’t optional.) While we don’t have quite the bandwidth to follow Google’s 20% Rule, we’re making a deliberate effort to take time to make ourselves better at our jobs. That means that each Tuesday I, a self-diagnosed nerd and scavenger for information in any way pertaining to STOKED’s work and industry, select an article that I’ve come across and send it to our staff, both in NYC and LA. We all then have one week to read, digest and wax philosophical in a group email chain, sharing our thoughts and response to the reading.

The result will soon be a re-energized, more learned staff better prepared to do what we do. We also hope that this will inspire our community to follow suit, joining the Reading Club and contributing to the discussion.

– Sophia, Senior Program Manager

 Screen shot 2013-09-17 at 12.56.30 PM

This Week’s Reading:No Child Left Untableted” from the New York Times Magazine.

Some STOKED Offerings:

“What will this do to the student?  If the average middle schooler spends seven plus hours a day staring at a screen outside of school,  adding more screen time to their school day is not healthy.  So much is learned through social interactions, I cannot help but think putting a tablet in a child’s hand would decrease personalization and increase isolation.  I have seen a good amount of kids who join Stoked who are painfully shy.  By the end of the season, program, or whatever it may be, they are speaking in front of groups of 30 or more people like it’s no big deal.  If we put a tablet in their hands rather than encouraging these group interactions, they probably wouldn’t push themselves to break out of their shell.

When all is said and done, the  educational benefits of new technology depend on good teaching. If it is so easy to find the money for cool, new technology, then why is it so hard to find the money for good teachers?”

– Kat, Program Manager, Los Angeles


“While I feel that an adaptive learning platform for students does give rise to a more personalized educational experience, I don’t feel that our educational system is ready to make use of these tools.  Sure there are some public schools that are performing pretty well and could roll in the use of a new educational tool to keep down the cost and weight of textbooks.  What about the majority of city public schools which do not have any art or theater classes?  What about the teacher hiring freezes and lack of unions, contracts and worker protections that are preventing people from wanting to become top notch teachers?”

– Stu, Office Coordinator, New York


“Also it remains that lazy students will be lazy until they are engaged, and that’s a lot more complicated than giving them a toy. A human has to do it… Fancy tablets should be given to students that show that they are already achieving or on the road too, there should be either a test to qualify or an application.  You can’t give tablets to kids who need humans more than anything.”

– Coach Barry, New York


“I’m all for finding new ways to engage youth in the classroom, but I think that this initiative is just feeding a booming tech industry. The idea that youth can be spending more time using machines, and less time having face-to-face interactions scares me… This tablet program means well, but the real concern should be working to adequately train teachers and help them find creative ways to engage students and measure progress, not yet another way to have the 50 minute class pass as quickly as possible.”

– Hannah, Program Manager, New York


What are your thoughts? Comment here!



Do More Than Get a Tax Refund

“It was an amazing feeling going up the mountain. As I was making my way down for the first time, STOKED helped me believe that I couldn’t give up. I’ve applied those lessons from snowboarding to life, I never give up on what I’ve set my mind on. I see it through to the end no matter what.”  – Alexandra Parache, STOKED Alumna, 2012 Mentee of the Year, University of Rochester Class of 2013

You can do more than get a tax refund by the end of today. You can help a young student succeed in life.

Alexandra was 16 in this picture. Now she’s 21 and set to graduate from college in May. The picture was from her first time snowboarding. Although it’s the end of the year, it’s the beginning of our 8th snowboard season. During the snowboarding program, students like Alexandra learn to set goals, become confident, create a vision for their future and be inspired by positive adult mentors.

It costs $100 to take a student snowboarding for 1 day. This includes food, lift ticket, transportation and equipment. We have many students in our after school program that need a jump start this winter. Click on the donate button to empower a student from a low-income community with the experience and thrill of snowboarding.



We wouldn’t be here without the support of people like you. From everyone at STOKED, have a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Surf Mentor 2012 Scores a 100% with Youth

Photo by Debbie Miracolo

Surf Mentor is our summer program for inner city kids in Los Angeles and New York. We make trips to local beaches in both of those cities, and teach those youth how to surf while also mentoring them in life skills.

Here’s a look at what went down this summer across the coasts.

  • Los Angeles – 30 adult volunteers mentored 27 kids
  • New York City – 51 adult volunteers mentored 53 kids

100% of the 78 youth who went through our program this summer reported feeling safe when they are at STOKED programs*! We’re proud of that stat., because above all, we value the safety and well-being of the youth we serve. *Program Managers STOKED Charlie and STOKED Sophia polled youth participants at the end of the summer, and here are some results from that survey.

Hear what kids who went through the program had to say about it.

Los Angeles Testimonials

  • STOKED is a gnarly program that inspires me every time I step in the HQ. — Perla S., 16
  • Because of STOKED, I have more knowledge about relationships with other people, that being committed to something will always bring something good, and always be on time and ready for the unexpected. — Bruno R., 19

New York Testimonials

  • Before I joined stoked I would never have thought i would be snowboarding down a mountain, or skateboarding down a hill or standing up on a surfboard (even though that was always a secret dream of mine), so I showed me that the opportunities are out there, you just need to learn how to look. — Christine J, 16
  • I loved Surf Mentor. I am so happy and proud that I was given the opportunity to learn how to surf and to have met the great friends and mentor over the summer. STOKED has been a really exciting program for me, it has given me the opportunity to explore things that I never thought I would be able to. — Leon, 16

To everyone involved who made this season possible; our sponsors, volunteers, and of course, the ocean itself, THANK YOU!




6 Life Lessons from a 16 Year Old

Jazmin Smiling

Jazmin rode a wave for the first time and came out of the water a different person.
She had a moment of clarity where everything made sense and wanted to share what she learned through STOKED.

See if you can relate…

1. Get support from others.
“It’s a great feeling to know that people are there to help you and not judge you. That’s what I get from STOKED.”
2. Know how to use your time.
“When you’re able to get things done in an orderly fashion, you get more time to do the things you really want to do.”
3. Learn about other people.
Other people won’t have the same opinion as you. At my school there are a lot of Muslim people, and knowing feelings about certain topics might help you understand a them a little more.
4. Know when to take a different approach.
“I couldn’t understand a book, and kept trying to read it over and over. I decided to take a step back and talk through the book with my friend instead of only reading it.”
5. Keep calm.
“You don’t start screaming your head off when something bad happens. Stop
take a breath, and ask yourself how to deal with the situation.”
6. Reflect.
“By reflecting you can see all sides of yourself so you grow as a person.” 
If you want to learn your own life lessons by surfing, join us on August 11 for our STOKED Beach Party in NYC. There are very limited spots, so get more information and sign up!