As an East Harlem native, Steven Portericker has remained deeply committed to his neighborhood through his continued service at Union Settlement. During his seven and a half years there, he has overseen and developed new partnerships with a wide variety of community based organizations and cultural institutions, from Drew University to the Big Apple Circus.
Steven began working on his vision for how to serve youth in 2002 as a Dropout Prevention Counselor. In addition to his regular duties, Steven volunteered his time to teach dance to participants on a regular basis. Climbing the ladder swiftly over the next five years, a series of promotions led him to become Director of Youth Services for all of Union Settlement. After a successful redesigning their elementary school-age services and securing millions of dollars in grants for programming, Steven turned his focus to helping the young people in his programs pursue higher education and achieve workforce readiness.
Through programs like their young fatherhood and learn-to-work initiatives, Steven has had a remarkable impact on youth by providing them with internships, career skills development, tutoring, college and career advisement, and college trips. Exemplary of his success is a young man who entered the Union Settlement program in November 2008 still reading and doing math at a 7th grade level. Today, that same young man has not only graduated high school but has gone on to pursue his degree at a four-year college.
The influence Steven has had on today’s youth continues to grow as his programs produce more successful graduates every year. His ingenuity and passion for the work he does have led to an indelible impact on East Harlem and surrounding communities.