YouthPower, St. Paul Youth Services' youth-led organizing hub
Kids changing systems
vs. systems changing kids
YOUTH OF COLOR ARE EXPERTS on their lives, needs, and the injustices they face, but too rarely at the table in developing strategies for racial equity. Our YouthPower initiative is built on that premise: an organizing hub where youth of color can gather, reflect, express themselves, build skills, organize, and advocate for serious change on issues that affect their lives. Youth participants are compensated for their efforts and ideas. They also experience an affirming curriculum of Healing & Identity, Exploration & Innovation, and Policy Change.
Nearly 20 BLACK BOYS AND YOUNG MEN ages 13-18 kicked off YouthPower in the summer of 2017 through a paid leadership institute. There they had enriching experiences as they set and achieved personal and collective goals, and learned more about themselves, their culture, their history, and the world.
YouthPower continued throughout the 2017/2018 school year, adding BLACK GIRLS and YOUNG WOMEN ages 13-18 with a similar powerful approach to leadership building.
In just one year, the Black youth involved in our program have achieved remarkable goals. They have created a YouthPowered space, strengthened their sense of identity, culture, and community, engaged in creative and critical thinking, created powerful storytelling vehicles to highlight and protest systemic racism, created a youth train-the-trainer and community building model. Perhaps most remarkable has been how quickly youth in our program have been able to make tangible changes in their community, by advocating to elected officials and other decision-makers on youth-designed policy changes impacting their lives.
Why is this so important? Restorative practices, safe spaces, and opportunities to critically and creatively think and drive change are disproportionately withheld from youth of color, especially Black boys and young men.
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