YCCS Students Rising Up & Taking Back Their Communities

When my journey began as the Campus Leader for the Civic Engagement Project at Progressive Leadership Academy (PLA), I knew this was the right place for me. This civics project would produce fruits to expand our students’ horizons, require them to think outside the box (their communities) and challenge them to explore global issues.

When we embarked on this voyage, we began by unpacking this year’s issues of study, which included Education, Immigration/Emigration, Policing/Incarceration, and Inter/Intra-communal Violence. My students and I were motivated and encouraged to exercise our voices.

When all participating campus leaders and their interns came together, representing Youth Connection Charter School, our collective voices clapped like thunder. We brainstormed together and studied the issues, which were vital to our students and their communities. Our students stood strong and firm with us, their Campus Leaders, and YCCS Civic Engagement Leaders. Our support inspired students to sound their trumpets!

PLA interns and students focused their project on Gun Violence and researched their issue from grassroots to root causes and worked together to promote and take actions. For instance, they created a survey to collect data from targeted groups, including formal/informal interviews with parents, peers, community members, teachers, and elected officials from Chicago and Springfield, Illinois. They interviewed state representatives, senators, and others in the political arena. They also conducted a voters’ registration drive, marches, rallies and peace circles, posted Tweets, and called elected officials to voice their concerns about Gun Violence.

At the YCCS Civic Engagement demonstrations of learning culminating event, the PLA team presentation was amazingly impressive! They shared their knowledge of research and resources, their actions, including social media posts. They made their demands clear to prevent gun violence and promote a healthier community through stricter gun Laws, creating more job opportunities within Black and Brown communities, providing before and after school funding, building affordable housing and community centers on vacant lots, and decreasing spending on policing to use more tax dollars toward education and youth employment.

Patrice Allen

Progressive Leadership Academy