Young Leaders for Justice

For: Chicago Freedom School
Chicago, IL
Organizer: Chicago Freedom School
Young Leaders for Justice (Chicago Freedom School)
of $3,500 goal
44% Complete
Raised by 21 donors
This fundraiser is closed. Thank you for your support!

The Story

"Through this program, I have learned so much about living in America in 2015. I've had a chance to talk with so many wonderful people who have ideas that will positively impact the world...What I've learned in these sessions I will carry with me for the rest of my life...We were never meant to survive so we must act and build and remember." -Dan, YLJ participant

Over the past year, with heightened calls to address police brutality and youth criminalization, young people with little training in organizing were thrust into action and expected to sink or swim. Many young people have become politically active for the first time and want to do more to make change in addition to attending a public protest. They want skills-based training, contextual knowledge about policing, spaces to network and build relationships with other activists, and opportunities to continue their activism.

In February 2015, the Chicago Freedom School and Project Nia joined forces to launch Young Leaders for Justice (YLJ)--an intensive leadership and training program for 20 emerging organizers ages 17-24 to build essential skills to create change on youth criminalization. They met every other Saturday from February through June to learn about: 

  • History of mass incarceration
  • Issues in juvenile justice system
  • Healing Justice 
  • Community Organizing
  • Grassroots Fundraising
  • Social media for advocacy and more!

“I took away thinking about historical context.... So now when I see ‘we call police’ signs I have critiques, but I wouldn’t have had that before…[One change I will make as a result of YLJ] is being more vocal....Speaking up about the [“We Call Police”] signs in the neighborhood, where I would have been silent before because I worried about offending people. I definitely am more vocal about things.” -YLJ participant

With the support of so many, the YLJ program built a resilient group who won’t end their engagement once the public demonstrations are over, but who continue to act for change in multiple ways over the long-haul.

And this summer, they are making plans to take action on the issue of stop and frisk. 

All year, the Young Leaders for Justice program has been a labor of love without significant foundation support. It has been the dedication of community members who made this work happen.  Your continued support this summer will help YLJ members create this vibrant community space and address this vital issue. 

Donations of $10, $25, $50, $100 or more will help us purchase supplies to make these exhibitions happen. 

Thank you for your continued support and dedication!

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on May 15, 2015

Posted on May 15, 2015

This Saturday, YLJ is learning and practicing healing justice techniques.

What is healing justice? Tanuja Jagernauth from the Sage Community Health Collective writes that "healing justice acknowledges and addresses the layers and layers of trauma and violence that we have been living with and fighting for generations.  And, it asks us to bring collective practices for healing and transformation INTO our work. It recognizes that we HAVE bodies, minds, emotions, hearts, and it makes the connection that we cannot do this work of transforming society and our communities without bringing collective healing into our work. People have been asking more and more questions about “sustainability” in the work. I think that working within a healing justice framework is a way to institutionalize sustainability in our work."

(full article found here: 

We are excited for the last three workshops this spring as the group gears up for action projects this July. 

May 16-Healing Justice
May 30-Social Media and Activism
June 13-Fundraising for movements

Posted on April 24, 2015

Posted on April 24, 2015

We have a new blog post!! YLJ Participant, Arlo Johnson, reflects on the community organizing training on April 11th. 

"Examining how organizations and individuals mobilize youth seems like an essential piece in creating positive change. We have to be aware of how we are sharing and growing with the youth, so that they are central to the movements that they are helping to create. As someone interested in education, I am committed to dismantling the teacher/student split and creating spaces that exchange knowledge across boundaries."

Read the rest of Arlo's YLJ reflections here:

Please continue to spread the word about Young Leaders for Justice so we can make our fundraising goal and continue to support these incredible leaders in taking action this summer! 

Posted on March 25, 2015

Posted on March 25, 2015

"History informs and challenges our perceptions of what should be normal. When it comes to policing, why have we come to a place in time when mass incarceration is seen as justifiable?"

Read more from the NEW blog post by Young Leaders for Justice participant, Lynda Lopez.

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