Young people across the country are feeling the effects of a rapidly changing world. From the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on their lives and learning environments, to national uprisings in response to systemic racism, to an ever-changing and increasingly uncertain employment landscape—our nation’s youth are proving not only their resilience, but their capacity to lead.

America’s Promise Alliance is helping them tell their stories, creating a safe platform for youth (ages 6-25) to share their experiences on topics and events that are relevant to their lives and their communities. Our hope is that by amplifying young people’s voices and empowering them to be a part of national and local conversations, their experiences and perspectives can shape how schools, nonprofit and community organizations, out-of-school settings, employers, and policymakers support them both now and in the aftermath of the pandemic.

If you’re a young person, we encourage you to share your stories. If you’re a caring adult, we encourage you to listen! Please share these stories using #StateOfYoungPeople.

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Community States of Young People

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.  

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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. 

 

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.  

 

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.

 


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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. 

 

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. 

 

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. 

Learning During COVID

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted day-to-day rhythms, including an extended closure of school buildings. This loss of a physical community, the shift to online learning, and the stress of navigating life and learning amidst a global pandemic has left many students feeling uncertain about their futures. News outlets and emerging research are reporting the deep and disparate effects on learning as a result of the changing educational landscape–but how do young people themselves perceive the impact so far on their learning and their lives? Below, you can browse video testimonials, opinion pieces, and social media from young people who outline their learning needs during this time and the ways in which they and their schools continue to adapt to this changing reality.


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Blogs on Learning during COVID
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As students, our voices aren’t a burden — they’re an asset

By: Max London, Youth Author

When teachers around the country greet students in the fall, whether it’s online or in-person or a complicated mixture of the two, they won’t be conversing with the same students they left in March. There has arguably never been a period of such widespread, sustained trauma for students. 

Read more

 

Resources on Learning during COVID
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The State of Young People during
COVID-19

Our nationally representative survey of high school youth reveals their perceptions of the pandemic’s impact on their learning and their lives. The findings suggest that students are experiencing a collective trauma, and that they and their families would benefit from immediate and ongoing support 

Learn more

Youth Reflections About Learning During COVID

Kahlil G. Age 20

Kahlil G. advises other young people to keep focusing on their education during these difficult times.

Gabe A. age 19

Shares about his decision to quarantine with other students to maintain a college learning atmosphere during the pandemic.

Henry M. age 8

Talks about his experiences as a second grader doing school ‘on screens.’


more on this topic >>> 

 

Employment During COVID

 

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the nation’s employment landscape, and young people are at particular risk. They’re often the first to be let go, the last to be hired, and many major employers of young people have been significantly impacted by the pandemic. America’s Promise Alliance through the YES Project is helping young people tell their stories about how their employment prospects, experiences, and aspirations have been affected by COVID-19. Below, you can browse video testimonials, opinion pieces, and social media from young people outlining their experiences working and navigating the job market during these challenging times.


Blogs on Employment During COVID
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Struggle And Hope – A College Student Perspective During COVID-19

By: Mariela Fernald, Youth Author

During these times, loyalty is being put to the test. It’s vital for companies to understand the importance of treating their employees with decency and respect. If they do so, their staff’s loyalty will never waver.

Read more

 

 

mInternship Programs Are Filling A Crucial Gap During COVID-19
By: Marissa H., Youth Author

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the nation’s employment landscape, and young people are at particular risk.

Read more

 

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Teleworking as an Intern During the Pandemic
By: Ifeoma Eleazu, Intern, America's Promise Alliance

My summer job, which I’d hoped would cover my housing, was cancelled, leaving me unemployed and practically homeless. Despite these hard times, I’m extremely grateful and appreciative for all the support that America’s Promise has offered me.

Read more

Youth Conversations on Employment During COVID

Jamal H. age 20

Jamal H. advises mentors: don't be afraid to follow us, young people are leaders as well.

Veronica V. age 24

Discusses the ways she’s able to support youth in fostercare with iFoster during COVID-19.

Benjamin G. age 21

Describes how disheartening it was to realize that all the opportunities he had pre-COVID vanished.


more on this topic >>> 

 

 

Racial Justice

 

The accumulation of incidents of police brutality and other manifestations of systemic racism have led to an increasingly prominent national conversation about racial justice. This conversation is more present than ever within our educational and youth-focused institutions, as schools and community organizations across the country grapple with the reality that racism undoubtedly has an effect on young people–particularly young people of color. Although difficult, conversations about race, identity, and justice are critically important–and are already happening among young people in their homes, schools, and communities. Below, you can browse video testimonials, opinion pieces, and social media from young people outlining the ways in which race has played a role in their lives and learning, and how they are talking about it with their peers and the caring adults in their lives.


Blogs on Racial Justice
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5 Ways Employers Can Support Black Employees: A Young Leader’s Advice

By: Sierra W.


I wish employers knew how tired people of color are of hiding their authentic selves. It starts from birth. 

Read more

 

Resources on Racial Justice
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Barriers to Wellness
Voices and views from young people in five cities 

This report provides new insights into the obstacles to wellness young people of color face in five cities and brings young people’s voices and views into the discussion about what affects their health and wellness.

This report provides new insights into the obstacles to wellness young people of color face in five cities and brings young people’s voices and views into the discussion about what affects their health and wellness.

Learn more

Youth Speak Out On Racial Disparity

Youth discuss why they feel unsafe in their communities.

 

Sierra W. age 21

Shares discusses the importance of ensuring people of color are at the table when it comes to hiring.

Noah H. age 21

 He shares how he believes young people and adults can come together to combat systemic racism.


more on this topic >>> 

 

Youth Leadership

 

America’s Promise has long been committed to listening to and amplifying the perspectives of young people. Among the many takeaways from these conversations, one remains consistent: young people are leading the way to make positive change in their communities. From leading pivotal conversations in their schools, to organizing local community service projects, to running for office–young people have demonstrated their unique passion, ingenuity, and capacity to lead through an unprecedented time. Below, you can browse video testimonials, opinion pieces, and social media from young people who are making the changes they want to see in their communities.

Blogs by Youth Leaders
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Youth Voice: How Adults Can Fight Cyberbullying
By: Sanah Jivani

During these times, loyalty is being put to the test. It’s vital for companies to understand the importance of treating their employees with decency and respect. If they do so, their staff’s loyalty will never waver.

Read more

 

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Public Service in the Time of COVID-19
By: Dhruv P.

Dhruv, with a friend, founded Teens Helping Seniors – a volunteer service for providing groceries and essential supplies to elderly and vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dhruv is an avid singer and is actively involved in virtual choir projects as a high school fellow of the National Philharmonic choir group and as a member of the Strathmore Children’s Chorus in Maryland.

Read more

 

Youth Leader Videos

Kayleigh N., age 18

 Is making care packages to respond to her community’s needs during COVID-19.

Britt M., age 19

Shares the ways he’s been supporting his community during the pandemic.

Angelica W., age 15

Shares how her robotics team got involved in 3-D printing personal protective equipment for essential workers and senior citizens.

more on this topic >>> 
 


If you’re a young person, we encourage you to share your story about how the pandemic has affected your life, what you are doing to cope, how you are being supported at this time, and what you need moving forward. If you’re a caring adult, we encourage you to listen! Please share these stories using #StateOfYoungPeople.

Once again, our hope is that by amplifying young people’s voices and helping them to be a part of national and local conversations, their experiences and perspectives can shape how schools, nonprofit and community organizations, out-of-school settings, employers, and policymakers support them both now and in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Share Your Story


Below learn about the history of the State of Young People and America's Promise continued commitment to elevating the voices of young people over the years.