The Building Leadership and Organizing Capacity (BLOC) initiative is PFF’s three-year, cohort-based capacity building grant making program designed to build the research, analysis, campaign development and organizing capacity of youth-led social change groups in Connecticut. Click below to learn about the work of the BLOC alumni organizations!
Connecticut Students for a Dream:
Our organization, guided by our membership, has started a new effort, our #LiveUnafraid campaign, with the goal to uplift the voices, power, and demands around fighting for what our community needs to live unafraid this 2019 legislative session and beyond. CT Students for a Dream and our membership has identified 5 main pillars of advocacy and change that our immigrant communities need to #LiveUnafraid: Immigrant Rights, Healthcare Access, Education Equity, Racial Justice, and Gender Justice. We seek to engage our immigrant community and youth leaders in order to make our voices heard on these issues and on what we need to live lives free of fear and with access to opportunity.
- To #LiveUnafraid our immigrant communities need to be free from fear of deportation, of family separation, of being targeted by ICE and Trump’s deportation machine.
- To #LiveUnafraid immigrant youth and youth of color demand educational institutions that fully support them and their futures. We demand safety in our schools in all forms.
- To #LiveUnafraid our immigrant communities need access to safe, accessible, and affordable healthcare, health insurance, and health coverage.
- To #LiveUnafraid our immigrant communities need true justice and dignity for our black and brown communities, and an end to all manifestations of white supremacy in our communities.
- To #LiveUnafraid our immigrant communities must have the power to control our bodies and be free from gender norms, expectations and stereotypes.
Our #LiveUnafraid campaign is led by a Campaign Team of college-age and high school youth who are our campaign fellows. They are leading the legislative and organizing strategy and implementation of our #LiveUnafraid campaign. The campaign team and our youth leaders will lead our campaign work to advance our agenda of Living Free from Deportation, Access to Healthcare and Mental Healthcare, Education Equity for immigrant students and English Language Learners, and Racial Justice and Gender Justice during the 2019 legislative session.
in 2018, CT Students for a Dream youth and leaders made history and passed a new law in our state of Connecticut to equalize access to institutional aid to undocumented students at Connecticut public colleges and universities, opening up a pot of 150 million dollars that will now be accessible to undocumented students. This was a momentous victory for C4D and immigrant youth. After this victory, we shifted our focus to a more broad and inclusive agenda, under the leadership and guidance of our youth and leaders. Over the last few years, our youth have been more and more engaged in, and politicized on, issues that are more inclusive and broad then only immigration and education, which had previously been our main focus. The next step for our field of youth organizing is for the youth organizing organizations in our state to work together to leverage the youth power that we have built to push for the changes that our communities need. That is the only way we will make systemic changes in our communities.
Written by Camila Bortolleto
Grow Hartford Youth Program:
While continuing their work towards their “10 Slices of Justice” Campaign, Grow Hartford Youth Program, as a founding member of the Youth Action Affinity Squad, participated in the squad’s official launch on November 10th at the Arroyo Recreation Center in Pope Park. The purpose of the event was to connect youth from various organizations to spark authentic relationships, build skills and knowledge around youth rights, and unveil the Youth Action Affinity Squad platform.
Students from youth organizations like Grow Hartford, True Colors, CT Students for a Dream, Institute for Community Research, Peacebuilders, and YOUMedia were in attendance, as well as students with no organizational affiliation. We were joined by Melvin Medina from the ACLU who shared information on the drone ordinance currently moving through City Council, Jennifer Perez-Carabillo, Councilwoman Claudine Fox’s aide, and CT Students for a Dream shared a “Know Your Rights” workshop.
The convening has already resulted in being able to gather students in between YAAS meetings to organize, prepare, and testify at a City Council meeting. We are looking forward to seeing the impact we can have as we continue to grow youth political power in the city of Hartford!
Written by Tekowa Omara-Otunn
Hearing Youth Voices:
Following the release of a New London teacher’s recorded, detailed, and disturbing explanation on the “proper way to hang someone”, Hearing Youth Voices has since been gathering community members’ testimonies and holding space for conversation while vigilantly keeping an eye on the New London Board of Education’s investigation into the educator’s conduct.
Additionally, after releasing a statement, Hearing Youth Voices put their eight-part framework “Schools That Work For Us” into action with Saturday, February 22nd marking the first of a series of Saturday community conversations. PFF grantee partners Students for Educational Justice and Make The Road CT joined the conversation as well as many people from the New London and larger New England community.
Taking place one Saturday a month, these gatherings will provide a space for deeper conversation on the framework which was developed last summer as a response to the student walkouts and the “Movement for Our Lives.” The framework’s demands dovetail with additional demands around school curriculum, including the recently-achieved development of an ethnic studies course at New London High School.
There are many things on the horizon, including additional community conversations – for more information visit Hearing Youth Voices’s Facebook page.