Virtual convenings will address pressing social issues, foster collaboration between youth and community leaders, and spur action
WASHINGTON – America’s Promise Alliance today announced $150,000 in grants to empower young people to organize, be heard, and take action on our country’s most pressing social issues.
In six cities across the U.S., young people will identify challenges in their communities; design and lead a virtual convening with community leaders; and create actionable next steps for community organizations, schools, and municipal agencies to partner with youth on a long-term, ongoing basis. School safety, racial justice, mental health, and virtual learning are among the issues participants will address.
The convenings, part of the Alliance’s Community States of Young People, will provide participants a platform to have their voices heard, foster collaboration between youth and adult leaders, and encourage communities to be more inclusive of youth voice. Youth-serving organizations in the six communities will receive a $25,000 grant from the Alliance to support young people in developing the events.
“As a youth-supporting field, our first and foremost responsibility is to listen to and empower young people,” said Dennis Vega, interim CEO of America’s Promise Alliance. “Paying lip service to youth voice is not enough. The Community States of Young People events are concrete opportunities for youth to forge a path forward on issues that are important to them, like racial justice and mental health.”
The virtual convenings will embrace the spirit of the 2019 State of Young People event, a youth-led gathering where leaders in youth-serving fields heard directly from young people and identified opportunities to strengthen engagement.
As part of the $25,000 grant, community partners will receive tailored coaching, technical support, and capacity-building to facilitate the design process. In addition, participating youth will document their experiences planning and executing the events, sharing insights and challenges along the way. The six communities and partners are:
Alive and Well Communities (St. Louis) – Young people often do not define “safety” the same way adults do and recognize that students in different schools have different experiences of “safety.” From School Resource Officers to self-care, seven students from various districts across Missouri will lead their peers in discussing the importance of school safety and what steps are needed to be taken to ensure the wellbeing of all students and school staff.
Children’s Institute (Rochester, N.Y.) – The Whole Child Connection at Children’s Institute believes transformative change cannot happen without input from young people. Youth leaders from across Monroe County will focus on the importance of elevating youth voice and the need for adults to create spaces where youth perspectives are honored, activated, and valued. The event will bring light to various challenges facing young people today, including mental and emotional wellness, racism, curriculum harm, and limited resources for positive youth programs.
FIT2gether (Gaffney, S.C.) – Cherokee County FIT2gether and Thrive-U youth are designing and hosting a summit for middle and high school students as a call to action for youth voice, power, and unity. Topics will include wellness, equity, COVID-19, social unrest and polarization, educational experiences, and disrupting stereotypes, all with the goal of creating access and opportunities for everyone to be their best in Cherokee County.
Partnership for Child Health (Jacksonville, Fla.) – Diverse youth advocates for social, racial, health, and environmental justice will lead this event, focusing on topics such as equity, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and collective strategies to elevate and sustain young people's voices. The event will act as a call to come together as a community of young people—with and for one another.
Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness (Staten Island, N.Y.) – This youth-led virtual convening will focus on how mental health issues and racial injustice affect Staten Island youth. Young people from various schools across Staten Island will work together to deeply explore these topics through an intersectional lens in order to develop and share youth-centered and sustainable recommendations for key decision makers, other youth, and the broader Staten Island community.
United Way of Central New Mexico (Albuquerque, N.M.) – Mission: Graduate, a project of the United Way of Central New Mexico, will partner with Learning Alliance of New Mexico. The organizations will convene young people to identify the issues most significant to youth and develop actionable next steps for community organizations, schools, and municipal agencies to partner with youth on a long-term, ongoing basis.
America’s Promise Alliance is the driving force behind a nationwide movement to improve the lives and futures of America’s youth. Its work is anchored in the belief that every young person deserves to succeed, and every adult is responsible for making that happen. By bringing together hundreds of national nonprofits, businesses, community and civic leaders, educators, citizens, and young people, the Alliance does what no single organization can do on its own: catalyze action on a scale that reaches millions of young people. www.AmericasPromise.org