DSC Youth on Fire at UN Youth Assembly: From the Desk of Dignity in Schools Campaign’s Co-Chair, Racial Justice NOW!

Youth are taking on new roles and opportunities within Dignity in Schools Campaign. The need for deeper youth engagement and leadership has been building momentum in DSC for many years now, and the tipping point came when the youth at this past year’s Annual Membership Meeting in Atlanta, GA spoke up. Their valuable critique and insight have led to two exciting developments in the campaign: a DSC Youth-led Leadership Initiative and two DSC Youth Delegates at the UN Youth Assembly. Since then, DSC youth have been on fire.

DSC Youth-led Leadership Initiative: To answer the call put out by youth at the Annual Meeting, DSC youth leaders from member organizations, Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC) (New Orleans, LA) and Youth Justice Coalition (Inglewood, CA) in coordination with Racial Justice Now! (Dayton, OH) conducted outreach to youth from across the coalition and organized a youth call to begin talking about what real and meaningful youth leadership and engagement would look like in DSC. Since the initial call in June, a core group of 8 youth members from organizations across the country (Youth on Board in Boston, MA; Black Organizing Project in Oakland, CA; Youth Organizing Institute in Durham, NC; DWH Inspires in Detroit, MI), has been meeting on a monthly basis.

They are creating proposals and building an outreach model to bring in youth from across the coalition to form a youth leadership structure. In December, they will share out these proposals on a call that will be open to all youth in DSC. From there, they will start building out the youth leadership structure and planning for a re-vamped youth space at the 2018 Annual Membership Meeting. Send nataliem@dignityinschools.org names and contacts of youth leaders in your organization, along with the contacts for any adult allies who should be kept in the loop about youth leadership structure developments, to be included on the youth outreach list.

DSC Delegates at the 2017 Summer Youth Assembly at the United Nations: In July, two youth organizers from Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) convened with youth from across the globe for the 2017 Summer Youth Assembly at the United Nations. The four-day event served as a powerful international platform for DSC delegates, Maritza Galvez of Youth Justice Coalition (Inglewood, CA) and Derek Brumfield, Jr. of Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (New Orleans, LA) to educate fellow youth leaders on their local and national work to end the school-to-prison pipeline and school pushout.

The 20th session of the UN Youth Assembly connected global leaders, ages 16-28, to explore issues and solutions toward the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including Quality Education. “Leaving no one behind,” the conference focused on collaboration, innovation, and dialogue that is inclusive socially, economically and environmentally.

When asked about the importance of representing DSC at the UN Youth Assembly, delegate Galvez expressed, “I want to bring awareness to the conversation at the UN Youth Assembly based on my first-hand experience as to how the system is failing and as a young person, being on the front lines attempting to fix it.”

Delegate Brumfield highlighted, “Representing Dignity in Schools Champaign on an international level is a great privilege that comes with a huge responsibility. As a representative of DSC and FFLIC, I urge an understanding of our current political climate which seeks to exonerate an administration that speaks for a portion of this country that wants to take a step back in progress. I would like to take a step forward and assure the UN Youth Assembly that the leader of our country will not stop progress and that there are organizations, individuals, and people in this country who will continue the fight.”

As DSC, we are so proud to have had these dedicated youth leaders represent our campaign on the international platform at the UN Youth Assembly. We are also excited about the developing Youth-led Leadership Initiative and will be sure to keep members updated as these proposals progress. DSC youth are on fire and can’t be stopped on their path towards equity and justice