Distinguished Charles E. Inniss Community Builder Youth Awards honorees and their guests joined the Brooklyn Children’s Museum in celebrating the museum’s 2009 gala, “Investing in the Future: A Celebration of Our Children.” This year’s student awardees were high-school seniors Andre Forsythe and Jelani Brown, both of the award-winning Museum Team afterschool program at Brooklyn Children’s Museum, 145 Brooklyn Avenue at St. Marks Avenue.
Other honorees were Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz; President of Brooklyn Children’s Museum Carol Enseki, who is stepping down this fall after 20 years of leading the museum; the Independence Community Foundation, the largest private donor to the museum’s capital campaign; and Skanska, the international construction firm, which built the museum’s new, eco-friendly wings.
Brown joined the Museum Team program when he was eight-years-old. Now 18 and a senior graduating from Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design, the Crown Heights resident will attend the University of Rochester in the fall, his choice from among the six colleges that accepted him for enrollment.
Over the 10 years Brown participated in the Museum Team program, he successfully advanced through ever-greater levels of responsibility and has proven to be a strong leader who mentors younger students in the program and makes meaningful contributions to his community. In addition to his Museum Team role teaching visitors in the museum’s exhibits, Brown has also devoted time to his high school’s student government, the Boost Corps Community Service program, and Pace University’s Upward Bound program.
Forsythe will soon graduate from New York Transit Tech High School and — after a tough decision from among his nine college acceptance letters — will attend Saint Peter’s College in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, this fall. The 18-year-old resident of St. Albans, Queens, has also been a Museum Team member since elementary school, and for the past three years has served as an intern with the museum’s science department, teaching thousands of children and adult visitors about sea life, helping them explore the exhibits, and introducing them to uncommon reptiles and insects.
Over the years, Forsythe has been recognized as a leader in his community and was awarded the Volunteer of the Year Award at the Museum. He is also a National Merit Scholar, has had perfect school attendance during his high school career, and has been an excellent example to many children and teenagers through mentoring programs at the museum.
Named after the Museum’s beloved friend and former trustee, the late Charles Evans Inniss, the Charles E. Inniss Community Builder Awards recognize outstanding Museum Team afterschool program members who, through their dedication to service and scholarship, continue Charlie Inniss’s commitment to volunteerism and community building throughout New York City.
Through the generosity of the Independence Community Foundation and National Grid, the recently expanded Brooklyn Children’s Museum now houses the Charles E. Inniss Museum Team Headquarters.