Apex for Youth program pairs Asian American youth with volunteer mentors in NYC

NEW YORK — A New York City nonprofit is celebrating 30 years of supporting underserved Asian and immigrant youth. 

CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis takes a closer look at the organization’s mentoring program and how it makes a difference. 

A steakhouse is the next experience on a list of firsts for Roy Lau. Thanks to Ken Ng, he’s tried Italian food and even gone axe throwing.

“Ken is a super busy guy, but he always makes time for me,” Lau said. 

Lau is a high school senior and Ng is a working professional. The two connected through Apex for Youth.

“It started because volunteers saw that Asian, especially low-income Asian youth in the city, just didn’t really have people at home to talk to, whether for college advice, career advice, just like social, emotional advice,” said Amy Zhao, who runs Apex for Youth’s high school mentoring program. 

The program matches middle and high school youth with a volunteer mentor, like Ng. 

“Make sure that he has the support system that you wish you had growing up, and I think that’s been really important,” Ng said. 

According to city data collected by the nonprofit, one in two Asian American youth in New York City live in or near poverty. One in five live in homes where no one over 14 speaks English well or at all. 

“My family, it’s very conservative. So there’s not much of support when it comes to just helping you out. It’s more about tough love,” Lau said. “Apex isn’t just providing the support. They’re almost like a second family.”

The mentoring program is only one part of what Apex for Youth has to offer. 

“We have educational programs, we provide SAT prep, we provide athletics programming,” Zhao said. “Asian Americans have the lowest utilization of mental health services, and research shows that Asian Americans are much more likely to go to friends, family, community support systems and that’s exactly what Apex provides.”

They’re guiding youth to be confident, college-ready and giving back to the community. 

Lau and Ng are benefitting from the bond they build, and it’s only just beginning. 

“I would be unfulfilled without Apex’s mentorship program,” Ng said. 

“He’s like, almost like a second brother to me,” Lau said.

Apex for Youth has about 140 pairs in its mentoring program, and it’s looking for volunteers. Click here for more information. 

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