To advance education equity is to make a meaningful entry into your community, to identify root causes of inequity, to engage and inspire peers, and to empower all youth to have a voice in their own education. The opportunity for all youth to thrive – regardless of access or means – and to be equipped with the same tools to build success as their peers across socioeconomic lines is vital. This is the mission of Youth4Education. With this charge, young leaders from around the nation are leveraging the power of service-learning to transform schools and communities. These #Youth4Ed Lead Activists are championing such efforts, driving impactful change as inspired servant-leaders.
Lead Activists are youth leaders who have partnered with NYLC to execute service-learning projects to advance education equity around the world.
Grace Jin, fueled by a pen-pal mentorship with a peer at a school in the inner-city, worked with her educators to incorporate activities that encourage others to recognize similarities instead of focusing on differences:
“As the bundle of letters from my pen-pal Keyon thickened, I came to a realization. Though Keyon and I may have different skin colors and live in different neighborhoods, we have so much more in common: our love for science, our skill of dancing the “Nae-Nae,” and our dream to travel the world. I finally met Keyon in April, when North Allegheny pen-pals visited Grandview. We planted a schoolyard garden, played kickball, and discussed career dreams. In May, the Grandview kids came to North Allegheny. Before their visit, I planned a Teaching Peace Initiative activity (involving lollipops and an alien invasion) and worked with teachers to incorporate it into the Grandview curriculum. After spending a day at North Allegheny, Keyon poked his head out a yellow school bus window and told me, ‘I can be anything I want to be.’ Waving goodbye to 30 smiling faces, I realized that this is where stereotypes stop and connections grow.”
Fuchi Hang is educating his peers about the importance of cultural competency as a root cause of inequity.
“I envision serving a larger community by addressing the disparity of representation in our education system. Teaching students of all backgrounds the multiple narratives of history will create a community of understanding and a true environment for learning. My project is a movement for the representation of diverse cultures in school.”
Maria Ngo and Giovanna Clemens will be leading workshops in their schools about privilege, and the inequity that it creates in a track-based school.
“We envision others finding meaning in our project so they can go out and educate [their peers] to spread the word about the importance of education equity.”
Lead Activists are three months into year-long service-learning project to advance education equity, but their passion and impact extends much further. To learn more about Youth4Education and to take the #Youth4Ed Pledge, visit Youth4Education.org. Track and use #Youth4Ed to stay plugged-in on social media.