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Groups of New York teens from underdeveloped communities have had the unique opportunity to take up rock climbing as part of City Rocks, a mentorship program based in Brooklyn, New York.

Students are paired with mentors through City Rocks and spend a minimum of four hours per month climbing at Brooklyn Boulders, all the while participating in educational initiatives through the city. The mentors meet with students to plan goals involving everything from rock climbing, to their academics, to future careers. Mentors are critical in the development of adolescents specifically during this transitional teenage period, and often help build students’ self confidence and trust in others during this time of uncertainty and growth.

Founder of City Rocks, Dave Owen, is seasoned in his experience of introducing young people from under-resourced communities to outdoor education. As a teenager, Dave experienced rock climbing for the first time on a trip out west, where he learned the critical aspect of the sport; trust in ones peers. In addition, he has spent years of his career working in both mentoring and non-profit organizations. Dave linked the “trust” aspect of rock-climbing to mentoring, as both encourage relationship building and goal-oriented progress. He began City Rocks with two partner high schools, one being East Side High with which Give Back is also partnering.

“Mentoring and rock climbing have so much overlap with problem solving and partnership; you put each other’s lives in one another’s hands,” Dave said. “The climbing helps propel the mentoring relationship.”

Give Back is proud to partner with City Rocks in its efforts to support children of underprivileged communities. Some of the first selections of Give Back New York students have had the privilege to benefit from the City Rocks mentoring program and also received full tuition, room and board scholarships to one of our New York partner universities: Binghamton University, Queens College or Mercy College.

Because of the efforts of Dave, his staff and their partners, City Rocks offers teenagers a community built on trust. The combination of sport and mentorship has proved transformative for many teenagers who otherwise would not have experienced this stewardship and support system during this critical period of growth in their lives.