Catholic Charities NYC Social Capital Academy
Creating Connections During Social Isolation
In 2021 and 2022, Social Capital Builders partnered with the Catholic Charities Alianza YES program to engage 54 participants ages 14-16 in social capital development. The following quantitative data is based on self-reported surveys completed by the youth in the program using Google Forms.
❖ 94% of participants reported an increase in their understanding of what social capital is.
❖ 86% of participants reported an increase in their knowledge of how to build and measure social capital with six key adults in their lives.
❖ 82% of participants reported an increase in their knowledge of how to find a summer job.
❖ 80% of participants reported an increase in their ability to overcome barriers to building social capital.
❖ 80% of participants reported an increase in their knowledge of how to identify strong, weak, and dormant ties in their lives.
❖ 78% of participants reported an increase in their ability to build trust and rapport with gainfully employed adults, get adults emotionally invested in their lives, and reach out to opportunity holders to help them get summer jobs.
Several program participants followed up with us via email regarding their social capital building efforts. One student emailed for advice on how to reach out to a local ice cream shop that she was interested in working at over the summer. She kept us updated on her social capital-building efforts with the employees and manager of the shop. Here is what she shared with us, “ My sisters and I discussed places I can interview and I went out my way to email them, do research to get their phone number and call them. My next move is to call [name redacted] to schedule an interview with their supervisor.” This is an example of social capital building in action.
Another participant shared with us via email that she was accepted into Cornell University’s pre-college studies program for the summer. She shared the following sentiment in anticipation of the amazing summer opportunity, “I am ready to meet new people and build my social capital!” This same participant had a powerful realization during our program. While learning about the four different types of social ties in an activity via Zoom, the student raised her hand to excitedly share that she had a personal connection to President Joe Biden through one of her weak ties. With some coaching from Social Capital Builders, the participant reached out to reconnect with the photographer she knew who knew Biden. This shows how powerful social capital can be for young people in helping them build connections and reach new opportunities.
Other participants also responded well to the information about different types of social ties. One student wrote in her weekly reflection, “I notice a change in building my social capital. Usually, I would email/interview teachers, [name redacted] and my family about their career and job ethic. However I went out my way to get in contact with my weak ties: [names redacted]. I haven't talked to them in a while and I reached out to them about their career as well. Today in school one of the seniors in my math class gave me advice on how to find summer jobs on google classroom.” This shows that participants were applying what they learned about building social capital to their everyday lives.
Lastly, a third program participant shared that she has already been offered two internships for the summer. One of them is at a museum and the other is community-based. She shared that one is unpaid, so she is still deciding which one to take. Social Capital Builders continues to coach and support participants via email as needed after our program ends.