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Youth Summit on Education Equity: A Reflection

Posted By Amy Meuers, Thursday, August 13, 2020

Written by: Helene Francis and Adah Satre-Pratt, NYLC interns

From July 20th to the 22nd the Youth Action Coalition of National Youth Leadership Council hosted a Youth Leadership Summit in which young people from around the world were able to attend and learn how to become better leaders in their communities and more specifically strengthen their knowledge on education inequities and how they present themselves in different forms. The young activists that attended came from places such as Colombia, Venezuela, South Africa, New York City, Minneapolis, Tennessee, and Dallas. The summit lasted 3 days for 4-hour sessions each of those days.

While I attended I learned things about being an active listener by not waiting to speak but listening to what is said, and by using non-verbal communication such as nodding to convey that you are understanding what's being said. As well, we talked about what young minds are able to bring to any cooperative project that adults may not be able to showcase, and vice versa. These were things such as new ideas, enthusiasm, motivation, and experience. These things were things that I had maybe never thought about before but the most important thing that I learned while attending the summer that week was that to become a leader in your community it is important to focus on what you need to strengthen in yourself and how can you better understand the needs of the people around you before you advocate for them.

After 2 days of informative lectures and slideshow, which intermittently had breakout rooms, we spent the last day of the summit discussing how to apply the information about education and becoming an advocate for your education and your rights. These were things like actively listening to the people around you, privilege mapping, and then going out into your community and seeking change in your schools or neighborhoods.

We discussed how learning about the identities represented in your school has value and some are often underrepresented in media. We learned how to value the privileges you might possess but might not recognize as much as things like economic status, sexuality, race, and gender. Things like if you are able-bodied or not, or if you speak the language that's most commonly spoken in your area were things that I personally had never recognized in myself. These are all things that play into how represented minorities of different types are in schools.

All these things lead up to challenging the people in the call to seek equity in their schools, whether it's by helping support students with fewer resources or finding ways to communicate the things that minority voices might not be able to communicate in the same way. In a world where voices are not represented equally, we must seek ways to support those who cannot be heard by others.

Overall, I learned so much about what it means to be an advocate for education equity and how to be a better activist and support all voices and not just the injustices that apply to my identity. I learned more specifically about the results of education inequity and about how unjust it can really be. Things like unequal treatment or lack of supplies can ultimately lead to people not doing well in school which takes away from their opportunities to be successful after high school in whichever path they take. These are reasons to find creative and alternative ways to change a system that is not meant for everyone and to find ways for students to feel comfortable in schools while getting the best chance they can and ultimately getting an equal opportunity to everyone around them.

Tags:  education equity  service learning  youth voice 

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Equity in Education During COVID 19

Posted By Amy Meuers, Monday, March 23, 2020

Imagine all students starting their school days by eating a healthy breakfast, then jumping on their laptops to connect with their teachers through Google Classroom, then Facetiming with fellow students to complete their group projects. Imagine all parents knowing that their children are receiving the best educations despite classrooms having been moved from school buildings to living rooms. Imagine every teacher equipped with the training and knowledge to ensure that every student has the opportunity to succeed.


Unfortunately, this is not the reality for many students across the United States. Issues of equity become readily apparent when students go hungry because they no longer have school breakfast or lunch.  Students may have been assigned a computer from school but the coffee shop or library where they used to connect to the internet to do their homework is no longer open. Or they are isolated in a rural area with limited broadband. The COVID-19 crisis has made the issue of education equity even more apparent.


Young people are the largest stakeholders in the achievement gap. And because they have the most at stake, they also are positioned to make the most profound change. Once exposed to the roots of the issue, they tend to want to learn more about educational equity, to identify solutions, and to serve as change agents in their schools and communities. Analyzing the factors that contribute to the achievement gap enables students to begin to understand how they can affect it.


So, what can students do today to help address issues facing themselves and their fellow students?

  • Investigate - What is happening in the community? Survey fellow students to learn about the challenges they are facing; research the community to see what resources are offered; then decide which issue to address.
  • Plan and Prepare – Make a plan for how to tackle the issue. Will it require a budget? A timeline? What resources (volunteers, community experts, technology, etc.) will it take to address the issue?
  • Action – Put the plan into action.
  • Reflect – Reflect on what worked, what didn’t and then…
  • Demonstrate – Share with others. Use hashtag #youth4ed on Twitter, tag @nylcorg on Facebook and Instagram, share the story with the local press and with NYLC.

Youth innovation on issues affecting equity will lead to lasting change. By addressing just one factor of the achievement gap, young people and adults can influence the overall outcome of a student’s academic achievement and may be able to affect other factors that are critical to the overall learning experience. The story “Oxford Student Sets Up Volunteer Tutoring Service" is a great example of how students can create solutions to inequity. Student Jacob Kelly set up an initiative to connect college students with school students in need of tutoring services. He has more than 300 volunteers making an impact on the lives of students. Another example comes from StuVoice, a youth-led organization addressing education equity, which has created a petition to colleges and universities to create more equitable admissions process due to the cancellation of ACT and SAT tests. COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates pre-existing inequities in college access, it is critical that urgent action is taken to ensure low-income, minority and other underrepresented student groups have equitable access to the admissions process. 


To learn more about education equity and how to take action, visit Youth4Ed. A program of NYLC, Youth4Ed works with Lead Activists from high schools across the nation to pioneer service-learning projects that support educational equity, especially in these virtual education times. Visit to learn more and become part of the solution today.


Tags:  education equity  servicelearning  youth leadership  youthvoice 

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Join the Youth Advisory Council

Posted By NYLC, Friday, March 29, 2019

(This article was originally posted on December 27, 2019 on

For 35 years, the National Youth Leadership Council has tapped into the passion, creativity, and ingenuity of all young people to make meaningful change happen. Our Youth Advisory Council is a team of servant-leaders dedicated to promoting youth leadership, service-learning, and education equity. By providing valuable perspectives to inform NYLC programming, including Teen Driver Safety, Education Equity, and Youth Leadership, YAC members contribute to the success of NYLC in reaching our mission to create a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world with young people, their schools, and their communities through service-learning.

YAC work alongside NYLC staff at the National Service-Learning Conference® and present various youth leadership workshops and trainings across the country. As a Youth Advisory Council member, YAC have an opportunity to use their talents and strengths to help NYLC develop young leaders. Together, we are leading the way to address real world issues with all young people, inspiring them to Serve. Learn. Change the world.®

Join the next generation of youth leaders by submitting your application by January 26, 2019!

Learn more and apply today!

Tags:  education equity  teen driver safety  Youth Advisory Council  youth leadership  youth leadership development  youth voice 

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