Insights from thought leaders working to improve the lives of America’s Youth

Grace Schleisman

Grace Schleisman

AmeriCorps Promise Fellow
Much has been written about the problems with zero-tolerance discipline policies, but there’s another practice in Minnesota that contributes to school pushout without the attention: suspending or expelling students for “discretionary violations.” Under Minnesota Law, educators can dismiss youth if the “willful conduct...significantly disrupts the rights of others to an education.” There are a few major problems with this.
Peter Gurt

Peter Gurt

President, Milton Hershey School
America’s Promise and Milton Hershey School call on schools and other organizations to better collaborate by establishing partnerships that share knowledge, teach essential workplace skills, and create lifelong role models for the young people who make up our next workforce. We all have an obligation to prepare young adults for the competitive global job market they will enter post-graduation.
For those of us who have worked on the GradNation campaign, the Ballou coverage has challenged us to reflect and question our own role in this story. What are the unintended consequences of setting an ambitious goal? How can we do better? What does this story, and the story of other schools now being investigated, mean for the broader story of our national progress?
We must all be willing to take the necessary steps to protect our most valuable and vulnerable resources or risk failing our young people.  
Sanah Jivani

Sanah Jivani

Before the page even finished loading, I felt sick to my stomach. I somehow knew I wouldn’t like what I was about to see. The first words I read were: “Sanah Jivani wears a wig. Let’s guess why.” My heart pounded and my palms began to sweat as so many tears filled my eyes that I could no longer read the screen. What was going on?
Zarea Boyde

Zarea Boyde

What is the biggest issue facing your community and what should be done about it? This is the question select Dunbar High students answered in a two-minute "Project Soapbox" speech in participation with the Mikva Challenge, an organization that develops youth to be empowered, informed, and active citizens. This story is an edited version of 10th grader Zarea Boyde’s speech. Boyde was a finalist at Mikva Challenge D.C.'s citywide Project Soapbox competition in December.
Eva Harder
Writer and Editor, America's Promise Alliance
As 2017 comes to a close, we’ve gathered a handful of the stories that capture the kind of tough but important work that people across the country do with and for young people every day. If you’re tired of bleak headlines filling your newsfeed and want examples of how to enact positive change in ways both big and small, check out a few of our favorites from the last year.
America's Promise Alliance


Junior in College
I am not better nor am I worse than the other 10.2 million undocumented immigrants that were not granted this protection in the first place. I am not the “Good Immigrant.” I am not the “Dreamer.” Our parents, our families, those who made the decision to come to a country in which they are criminalized, they are the original dreamers. Not us.
Gabe Abdellatif

Gabe Abdellatif

America’s Promise Youth Leadership finalist
In the spring of my junior year of high school, I planned a meeting with my guidance counselor. We were set to go over my college application plans in preparation for the upcoming school year.
Melinda Hudson

Melinda Hudson

Sr. Advisor to Chair and CEO, America's Promise Alliance
At a recent Capitol Hill briefing releasing new research from Service Year Alliance, there was one stat that made me put down my box lunch and really listen: National service operates in 1 in 4 of our lowest performing schools. This is amazing—but sobering. One in four is simply not enough
Alejandro Gac-Artigas
Founder and Chief Executive Officer Springboard Collaborative
My dad is a playwright. In the 70s in his native Chile, he was jailed as a political prisoner. His crime? He directed a play in protest of Pinochet’s dictatorship. After years of torture, he made it out alive. He was luckier than many. Even luckier, he met my mother while living in exile in Paris.
Jessica Mendoza, Minnesota Alliance with Youth

Jessica Mendoza

Minnesota Alliance with Youth
Schools are failing students by being too quick to execute a punishment, which has lasting, negative impacts. To combat racial disparities in school and society, schools need a new approach to school discipline that is grounded in student perspectives and alternatives that work.