The following student groups and individuals have requested and received support through CUAH's Youth Creating Change (YCC) program. These student groups and individuals are developing and implementing social justice projects designed to combat hate, bigotry and discrimination, close the achievement gap, promote inclusiveness, and build cultures of dignity.
Our Pilot Program - MoCo Students for Change
MoCo Students for Change, formerly known as MoCo Students for Gun Control, is a student group composed of students from Montgomery County Public Schools. These passionate students have organized many events around the county to advocate for gun control, after many tragic and horrifying events occurred this year.
On March 14th, MoCo Students for Gun Control organized a walkout for MCPS high schoolers. Students marched to Washington D.C. and protested in front of the capitol as well as the White House. YCC provided this group with mentorship from veteran organizers and trainings on gun control policy and grassroots organizing methods. Two advocacy trainings were held - before and after the walkout - to sharpen and to reflect on students' nonviolent advocacy skills. In addition, YCC provided a $2,000 grant to MoCo Students for Change for transporting students by bus to the White House and US Capitol on March 14th.
First Class of YCC Fellows
The first class of YCC Fellows consists of 14 students who are leading social justice projects in schools all over the county. As Fellows, these students will be:
· Participating in a series of training sessions from December through June that cover project planning, grant proposal writing, fundraising, advocacy, and organizing methods;
· Working on their projects with support from CUAH mentors; and
· Preparing a well-developed grant proposal with a specific request, budget, timeline and deliverable.
Citizens Field Guide for Gun Violence (Dan Navratil, Lee Schwartz, and Malaika Bhayana - Bethesda Chevy Chase HS)
We decided to make our own. Our information booklet, called “A Citizen’s Field Guide to Gun Violence in America,” is a factual source for the most important information about gun violence, gun ownership, and gun control. We specifically created the booklet to be non-partisan because gun violence is an issue that affects all Americans, and we believe that all Americans can come together to solve it. The booklet contains definitions of gun-related buzzwords, profiles of different types of guns, a summary of the background check system, and the gun control positions of every major candidate running in a swing state in the midterms, among other things. We also created an insert specifically for Maryland voters. It contains the gun control positions of the top two candidates for every Maryland House race along with the Senate race and Governor race. Check us out at https://www.citizenfieldguide.com/
TedEX Talks (Maissa Keita - Bethesda Chevy Chase HS)
During this event people will come to hear different speakers, of the different backgrounds, and different views on the world about what we can do to make tomorrow a better future. We would like to explore how students can explore different opportunities and fields in order to uncover their possibilities and options if not true calling.
MoCAT Museum of Cultural Toxicity (Camilo Montoya, Melissa Carr, Andrew Cha, BCC Anthropology class, Tattler class - Bethesda Chevy Chase HS)
Coming of Age in Toxicity is the B-CC anthropology department’s continuation of the Museum of the Contemporary American Teenager (Mocat.) Similar to Mocat, Coming of Age in Toxicity an all-interactive art exhibit and museum, with various projects researched and completed by B-CC students. The part museum, part art exhibit, part escape room focuses on six cultural toxicities: polarization, stress, masculinity, binary, comparison, and inequality. Within these broad categories, students have the creative opportunity to choose a subtopic from any of these toxicities and pursue a more specific project that they can express artistically, whether it be the student-athlete culture within toxic masculinity or the dichotomy of gender within toxic binaries. Check us out as https://www.mocatpopup.org/
Diversity Mural (Krissy Raisner and Willow Frohart - Bethesda Chevy Chase HS)
We are creating a mural that is indicative of the diversity that now exists in our school and address some of the current political divide. Our goal is to have mural be a representation and reminder of BCC’s stance on inclusiveness and acceptance. We aim to reflect this diversity by talking to different BCC clubs which represent many different groups of students within our school.
Connecting Cultures (JD Gorman, Ben Moran, Camilo Montoya - Bethesda Chevy Chase HS)
Connecting cultures is a non-profit led by 3 BCC students with the ultimate goal of end the ongoing issue of self-segregation in the community, by tackling the problem from its roots. For example, BCC has been described as so segregated to the point where there are 3 different schools inside one building. Black BCC, White BCC, and Hispanic BCC are the three most obvious groups in the school. Our non-profit plans to reach such goal by hosting community events such as talent shows/art showcases, music lessons, sport tournaments and a 2-week summer camp where, for example, kids from Silver Spring get to hangout with kids from Westbrook. We are a group the goes to different community spaces to lead group discussions on a range of topics. Our goal is to engage in a productive dialogue so that we may better understand each other. When we engage in dialogue we take a step closer to change and a tighter community.
Student 2 Student (Gabriella Harlow, Lauren Jablon - Bethesda Chevy Chase HS)
This past school year, Bethesda-Chevy Chase high school seniors Lauren Jablon and Gabriella Harlow created a school-wide club called Give Back. Inspired by their family ties to the military, the two decided that they wanted to co-found a club that focused primarily on helping those who sacrifice so much for them on a daily basis: United States veterans. Therefore, Harlow and Jablon co-founded Give Back with the intention that the Bethesda-Chevy Chase community could actively engage in volunteer opportunities that benefitted not only injured veterans, but their families as well. At the moment, over 120,000 veterans are currently homeless (a truly staggering and disheartening amount) throughout the United States. Through Give Back’s efforts, Harlow and Jablon hope to be able to do their best to mitigate the global injustices that veterans face, as well as improve living situations for their heroes. In just this year alone, Give Back has held various meetings during lunches, created heartfelt letters and care packages, and has organized with various organizations in the DC metropolitan area to help prepare meals for veterans. Currently, Harlow and Jablon are planning to visit injured veterans in nearby hospitals to hear about their inspiration and determination throughout their time of service. Harlow and Jablon would like the world to open their eyes to the tremendous sacrifices that the armed forces make each day, to increase appreciation, and to radiate gratitude. It is their mission to battle the injustices that they face daily and to spread positivity.
Flourishing Friendships (Lily O’Hanlon - Bethesda Chevy Chase HS)
I organized an Autism-Awareness fair on April 28th, 2019 in honor of autism awareness month. The fair provided families who have autistic children with a fun weekend getaway, and an opportunity to meet other families in similar situations. The fair will provide food, craft tables, outdoor zumba, relay races and guest speakers who advocate for autism-awareness.
Diversity Gala (Olivia Gyapong - Blake HS)
Olivia Gyapong is a sophomore at James Hubert Blake High School in Silver Spring, Maryland and is chairing her school’s first-ever gala for high-achieving minority seniors. Olivia organized the gala through Blake’s Youth Advocacy Club (YAC), which she co-founded with three of her peers. With the help of YAC club members, club sponsors Ms. Debra Delavan, YCC, Blake Minority Scholars Program members, the Blake NAACP parent council members, the Blake Symphonic Orchestra, keynote speaker Delegate Pamela Queen, and many more, Olivia has been able to make the idea of a celebratory gala come to fruition. She hopes that by hosting this gala and celebrating some of Blake’s most exemplary students, she incentivizes those in their wake to follow the honorees’ examples, thereby minimizing the achievement gap at Blake. More than anything, Olivia wants to highlight the successes of the richly diverse student body at her school and assure these star seniors that, as they have already proved, no matter what societal barriers they may encounter after graduation, they remain incredible human beings capable of effecting incredible change.
Strengthening Causes (One Maryland Summit, Caitlyn Gardiner, Homeschool)
The Strengthening Causes Foundation provides accessible workshops to teens and young adults across the state of Maryland to help foster skills in civil dialogue and political awareness. This is a bipartisan effort with individuals from diverse political and regional backgrounds in leadership positions. Our largest event so far has been the One Maryland Summit: a one day event where students from all across Maryland gathered to discuss their county identities, regional similarities and differences, and their cohesive vision for Maryland’s present and future. Through this event, we were able to provide a space for youth from all over the state to network and build connections with other leaders, help build equity in our state through making youth more aware of disparities in order to inspire action, and give legislators a youth perspective on various issues. In the next few months, we plan to host smaller workshops across the state, create forums to give youth a platform to tackle issues identified as priorities at the summit, and expand the initiative to include more of the Northeast Region of the United States.
BlakeToo (Shay and Sean Pyles - Blake HS)
#BlakeToo is a movement created by students that focuses on the empowerment of sexual assault victims through the emphasis on student sexual assault and by dissipating the taboo of sexual assault through means of educating people of what exactly is sexual assault. We're working to give a voice to victims of sexual assault. We want to raise awareness about what sexual assault is and ways you can prevent it. We need victims to know that they aren't alone and what's happening behind the scenes when you report. We're going to empower students of all genders to understand they can set boundaries for their bodies, that they must respect the boundaries of others, and how they can stand up and speak out against sexual violence. This is a movement for victims of sexaul assault. We're giving them their voice back. We want to empower people to not feel frightened, to know that what happened to them isn't okay, and there's people who support you. We're going to end the cliche respond that she was asking for it, because nobody asks for it. We're going to make it known that even small assaults are a big deal and deserve attention.
Richard Montgomery Futures Project (Rose Lee, Tareq Elhamdani - Richard Montgomery HS)
We created a mentoring/tutoring program that connected Richard Montgomery to Twinbrook. We head to Twinbrook weekly to form relationships and help struggling kids build a strong academic foundation. Early on, I realized that many participants were unfamiliar with STEM’s basic concepts due to a lack of exposure. Most engineering programs are in Bethesda, where costs can be expensive. This is especially true for Twinbrook, as 65% of its students are from low-income households. Also, much of the school’s population is Hispanic and African-American, two groups that make up a disproportionately small percentage of the STEM workforce. This inaccessibility to STEM programs discourages minorities from pursuing scientific fields. Thus, I want to incorporate hands-on STEM activities into my program, strengthening students’ knowledge of science and encouraging creativity. For each activity, I plan to introduce a minority role model in various science fields for inspiration. This combination of reinforcing lessons at school and exploring real-life STEM applications will help ensure that students are receiving a meaningful education. With my project, minorities can take advantage of free engineering activities. Hispanic and African-American populations continue to be limited from many academic opportunities, so this would give them the chance to explore their passions and gain a better sense of what STEM truly entails. A lack of diversity in the engineering community leads to a number of missed opportunities– ideas that are never able to come to fruition on account of barriers determined by identity categories.