"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:
“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.”
- History of mass incarceration
- Issues in juvenile justice system
- Healing Justice
- Community Organizing
- Grassroots Fundraising
- Social media for advocacy and more!
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!