2020 Program

2020’s theme was “We Can, Together” We welcomed a record 100+ students from across the country. We focused on empowering teens with the tools and confidence to get involved in causes important to them.   Here are the highlights:

  • We welcomed Ambassador Samantha Power for a skype session with participants.  She is a Professor of Practice at the Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Law School. From 2013-2017, Power served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and a member of President Obama’s cabinet. From 2009-2013, Power served on the National Security Council as Special Assistant to the President for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights. Power began her career as a journalist, reporting from places such as Bosnia, East Timor, Kosovo, Rwanda, Sudan, and Zimbabwe, and she was the founding executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Kennedy School.
  • Holocaust survivor Ivan Vamos, shared his experiences and how young people can take a stand against hatred and bigotry.
  • Educator, organizer and auntie, Cidra M. Sebastien joined us. She has developed culturally relevant, gender affirming and arts and activism curricula, and was an executive staff member of The Brotherhood/Sister Sol, a NYC social justice youth organization, for nearly 20 years. During her seminar, students will examine the role of young people in justice movements in the US, discuss issues young people are organizing to impact now, and imagine a more just world together.  Learn more about her incredible work in this Essence Magazine article here.
  • We welcomed Citizen Action,  a grassroots organization focused on social, racial, economic and environmental justice.  Presenters will lead participants in an interactive session on inequality in America.
  • We were thrilled to welcome back Total Equity Now founder, Joe Rogers. Achieving educational justice—like other struggles for justice—requires that those most directly affected by the injustices know their rights and hold their elected officials and policymakers accountable for at least following the law, he will lead participants in a discussion of their educational rights. Learn more about his work here.
  • We were excited to welcome back  Audrea Din, New York State Director of Youth Climate Strike U.S. She shared with participants what they can do to support environmental justice. Learn more about her work in this Times Union article.
  •  We were thrilled to welcome back James Shultis, an LGBT+ rights advocate, community educator, and creative writer currently living in Western Massachusetts. With a long history of working in community non-profits, they will share how young people can organize and mobilize to raise awareness about issues important to them.
  •  Samira Sangare, a poet and social justice activist, shared with students the power of poetry to highlight issues of injustice and led a slam poetry session. Originally from this area, and a graduate of Shenendehowa High School, Samira hopes to get her MA and Doctorate in Peace Studies and Social Justice.
  • We learned about how to amplify our voice and impact our community with the Capital District Writing Project. Presenters led participants in activities focused on using writing as a tool for change.