History

The Brotherhood Sister Sol, or BroSis as members and staff affectionately shorten the name, was established in 1994 to offer supportive programs for Black and Latino youth in economically distressed communities.

Co-founders and childhood friends Jason Warwin and Khary Lazarre-White founded The Brotherhood when they were seniors at Brown University on the Southside of Providence at the John Hope Community Center. They recognized the obstacles young men face growing up in poverty, and they believed that the creation of a strong, supportive community could help youth overcome challenges of circumstance and succeed in life. They began work with a group of fifteen deeply disaffected youth and within one year and helped guide all but one of these young men away from criminal activity, disassociated behavior and back into school and stable lives.

They brought their innovative and successful youth development model for young men to New York City in 1995, and incorporated The Brotherhood as a nonprofit. Jason and Khary began working with about 45 young men in two public schools – one of the schools was Jason’s former high school, Central Park East in East Harlem. Over the next three years they hired additional staff, grew the organization and doubled the number of young people in the program.

In 1998 Dr. Susan Wilcox joined Jason and Khary as a Co-Executive Director and the organization was expanded to include programs for young women and renamed The Brotherhood Sister Sol. Susan served in this role for 8 years. For over 15 years Cidra M. Sebastien served in the role of Associate Executive Director, helping to steer the organization, before departing in 2019. Jason left BroSis in 2007 and spent 7 years in Brazil – and expanded our programming to a town outside of Salvador de Bahia, Brazil.  Since 2009 Khary has served as the sole Executive Director of BroSis, and now our programming is directed by Jason (Associate Executive Director), Wendy De Jesus (Associate Director for Programming), Silvia Canales (Director of College, Career and Wellness) and Dr. Marsha Jean Charles (Director of Organizing). Wendy and Silvia joined the staff of BroSis in 2001 and worked in assorted positions before being elevated to the role of Director. Marsha is an alumnae of BroSis who was elevated to the Director level in 2020. 

The organization has grown steadily into what it is today: a social justice youth development organization that focused on the intersectional work of educating, organizing and training the field. For more than 25 years, The Brotherhood Sister Sol has been at the forefront of social justice, educating, organizing and training to challenge inequity and champion opportunity for all. With a focus on Black and Latinx youth, BroSis is where young people claim the power of their history, identity and community to build the future they want to see.

Through unconditional love, around-the-clock support and wraparound programming, we make space for Black and Latinx young people to examine their roots, define their stories and awaken their agency. BroSis is deeply rooted in teaching young people to: form and hone a moral and ethical code and to undergo a political transformation that leads to understanding the inequity that our youth face directly, as well as those around the world, so that through this education they can become social change makers. They confront issues of racism, sexism, homophobia, hyper masculinity/patriarchy and poverty. In addition, the organization organizes for change  change with regards to three main issues: criminal justice; environmental justice issues; and issues of educational access for economically poor children from Black and brown communities.

BroSis is a broadly reaching not-for-profit organization dedicated to developing youth into empowered critical thinkers and community leaders. Our “Theory of Change” is to provide multi-layered support, guidance, education and love to our membership; to teach them to have self-discipline and form order in their lives; and to then offer opportunities and access so they may develop agency.

We are committed to helping youth develop their minds, bodies and spirits in a healthy manner, ensuring their development into strong and successful adults. We offer long-term, intense involvement with our participants over the course of their secondary school careers and provide distinctive wrap-around services that support their personal development and academic achievement. We help our members to break cycles of poverty, to become social justice makers and hone their voices to create change, and we provide a platform for our members, alumni and staff to alter the conversation – redefining norms of manhood and womanhood and speaking out for full freedom and access.

The themes of our organization are: Community, Knowledge, Positivity, and Future. Our educational pedagogy is based on 12 Curriculum Focus Issues. We offer four to six year rites of passage programming, after school care, counseling, summer camp, job training, college preparation, employment opportunities, activist training, community gardening, mental health support, intensive arts programming and international study programs to Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. For our recent alumni members, we provide support to ensure they remain in college or employed and they continue to make healthy and productive choices in their lives.

We have created a training institute – Liberating Voices/Liberating Minds, (LVLM) – which allows us to spread the word and train the field. LVLM trains youth educators so they can effectively address the complex needs of Black and Latino youth and implement our approach to community collaboration in the youth development field. To date we have trained over 3000 educators from 250 schools and organizations from around the country. We have published 5 books of curricula and collections of our members’ writings.

In October of 2018 we began construction on a new 20,000 square foot home for BroSis. This new building, designed by the architectural firm of Urban Architectural Initiatives, has been built on the land we own and we will continue to maintain the adjacent environmental education center.  The scheduled completion date is December 2021. 

The Brotherhood Sister Sol has received national recognition for our model. Our program has continued to be highly successful: Our members achieve and excel in all documented outcome areas, far surpassing their similarly situated peers, and develop into informed leaders able to comment on the essential issues of the day. Due to this success, our leadership team has been asked to share their expertise by speaking at institutions that include the Ford Foundation, Heinz Foundation, 21st Century Foundation, Open Society Institute, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Yale Law School, Georgetown School of Law, Harvard Graduate School of Education, American Educational Research Association, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The City College of New York, ETS, Atlantic Philanthropies, and the National Principal leadership Institute, among others.

We have also received extensive media attention for our work. We have been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, CNN, MSNBC, NY 1, Fox, the New York Times, ABC, NBC, Huffington Post and many other outlets.

Now in our twenty-seventh year of work, BroSis remains a community based, not-for-profit organization dedicated to developing youth into empowered critical thinkers and community leaders. We offer long term and holistic intensive involvement with our members – education, support, guidance, love, and discipline. We seek to help to build strong women and men, brothers and sisters, leaders in their communities. We provide access to opportunities and the knowledge on how to secure and navigate these opportunities in order to survive the conditions they face, and to build stable lives.

We educate: Through our comprehensive educational programs, we’re helping young people develop a critical understanding of their history, identity and role in society.

We organize: Together with our members, alumni, and partners, we’re building on a legacy of youth-led activism to realize a more just and equitable future.

We train: Through our innovative training models, we’re empowering educators and organizers to spark young agents of change across the nation. Founded and headquartered in Harlem, BroSis offers far-reaching opportunities for young people across the country to transform their lives and

 

%

of BroSis alumni have graduated from high school or earned a GED

"What brought me to The Brotherhood Sister Sol is that this organization is attempting to find relevant solutions to the desperate situations facing our young people in the community. The services they provide are invaluable. They are a significant island in a vast sea."

Danny Glover

Actor

"I’ve stood on platforms around the world…many occasions that would be…auspicious, important. I have been anointed, I have been blessed and I have been admired, and I am now at my eighty-third year in life. I can honestly say with total recall, that no other event has ever meant this much to me as this evening, this very moment, in my public life."

Harry Belafonte

Artist & Humanitarian