The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that workers in New York City are cheated out of almost $1 billion every year to wage theft! Across New York State, workers lose almost $3 billion every year to wage theft! What’s wage theft? How does wage theft impact New Yorkers? How can we protect against wage theft?

In the fall of 2019, CUP collaborated with Teaching Artist Stephanie Echeveste and Teacher Grace Beniquez’s 11th grade Internship class at the International Community High School’s (ICHS) to explore wage theft and how it impacts local communities. To investigate, students got out of the classroom to speak with their peers and community members, created art, and interviewed key stakeholders working on the issue.

The group gathered what they learned and created Pay Up! to teach others about wage theft and what they can do to make sure employers pay up!

Get your own booklet here!

Check out more photos of the project here!

What People Are Saying

“I enjoyed the project a lot. I really enjoyed asking people questions, because it really helped us understand what people feel when they experience wage theft. I love the booklet. It’s amazing! I like seeing the drawings that my friends made in the booklet!” – Keyla Garcia, ICHS Student

“My favorite part of the project was when we went outside to ask people about wage theft. There are a lot of people that don’t know about wage theft so it gave us the opportunity to tell them about it.” – Mamadou Sow, ICHS Student

“I enjoyed the project a lot. I think its good that we could help people that might experience fraud and wage theft. I think its important to study issues that impact people. I think it’s important to learn how to recognize your rights. I really liked the surveys, because I think its important to talk to people that are facing the same things as you, and maybe also your family members. It’s good to know that you’re not the only one facing that issue.” – Gabriela Turbi, ICHS Student

“I learned a lot of new things that I didn’t know. It was interesting to learn that many people didn’t know about wage theft. Now if I go to work, I know what to do if people try to steal my money.” - Smarlin Rumaldo Mendez, ICHS Student


Class J: Leticia Acosta Ramos, Laminou Adoi, Kate Aguilar, Victor Aguilar, Elias Al-Masajedi, Nayely Arroyo Garcia, Mamadou Barry, Guilleldy Candelario Rodriguez, Elda Chavarria, Lucilo Checo, Ribaldy De La Rosa Matias, Cheikh Diaw, Ashley Espaillat, Brailyn Espinal, Armi Expino, Keyla Garcia, Erimendi Antonio Inoa, Yari Mer Martinez Alvarez, Waldyn Payamps, Genesis Polanco Espinal, Laureen Polanco-Payero, Abranny Polonio, Ashly Quezada, Zariah Rivera, Smarlin Rumaldo Mendez, Chelsie Salvatierra, Santiago Sanchez, Mamadou Sow, Jan Tavarez, Nicole Vargas Alcantara, Yelissa Vasquez, Mahmou Zaghloul

Class K: Huda Alhanshali, Abdullah Alnaham, Mutahar Assakaf, Darwins Augustin, Rosibel Caba Rodriguez, Olvin Chavez, Saikat Chowdury, Isatou Daillo, Nelson Escalante Maldonado, Sindy Garcia, Rudelfi Dario Inoa Garcia, Eimy Lora, Carla Martinez, Teddy Martinez, Elischa Milandou, Angel Molina Veras, Crissith Nova Pena, Benjamin Novas, Nallely Paz, Carlos Jose Rodriguez, Jean Rosado Toribio, Andrea Ruiz Vasquez, Abdou Ouadoud Sanga, Jean Santana, Moustapha Sene, Shima Sheikh, Yerli Suriel, Bousseye Sysavane, Chozin Thet, Gabriela Turbi, Elianet Vallejo, Maria Vargas Alcantara

Class L: Erika Adames, Jose Aguilar, Syed Tareq Ahmed, Lismar Araujo, Almunther Assakaf, Fatimata Barry, Maimouna Barry, Marina Corporan, Yoanny De La Cruz, Thierno Diallo, Cheikh Diop, Edward Estevez, Maria Garcia, Anadely Hernadez, Erileidy Inoa, Cristian Jimenez Escobar, Pollob Kapali, Elba Lainez, Harony Nunez Martinez, Chantal Ortega, Edward Pena, Yadiel Pena Marte, Joan Perez, Lisi Perez, Ambar Ramirez Deleon, Hendryk Roche, Lisanyi Rodriguez, Sharif Salami, Abdou Ouahid Sanga, Gustavo Vazquez Pantoja, Israel Velasquez, Estarlin Zapata Hernandez

Resources & Links

The International Community High School is a progressive high school in the South Bronx for English Language Learners.

Funding Support

This project was made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governer Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and Council Member Diana Ayala.

Special Thanks

Sarah Ahn, Richard Blum, Hua Chen, Carlos Herrera, Gileen Navarro, Amy Pivak, June Song, Alberto Vasquez, Stephanie Yee


  • CUP
  • Teaching Artist
  • Stephanie Echeveste
  • Project Lead
  • Fielding Hong
  • Project Support
  • Leigh Taylor

    • The International Community High School
    • Classroom Teacher
    • Grace Beniquez


      Berena Cabarcas