Youth Organizing, Leadership & Community Organizing Training Program
CB’s high school student leaders from Minneapolis and St. Paul Public Schools inspired CB to develop with their guidance and planning a youth leadership curriculum in the fall of 2010. This is based on their own training and experiences working with community issues, learning to address issues, creating awareness and youth organizing. They emphasized the type of information that would be useful for future youth leaders who are in high school that had similar issues and struggles succeeding in schools. They want youth members in their high schools or neighborhoods students of color, immigrant or new refugees, to understand that they have the power to address issues that impact their community such as lack of quality education, lack of resources, access to resources, bullying, racism, etc. The curriculum has become the basis for the Youth Leadership and Community Organizing Training Program which is a series of lessons and workshops developed, conducted by staff, project leaders who are older high school students and college students previously trained by CB as community organizers and trainers. Each year, CB conducts three to six training sessions, two parts in each session for high school students ages 14 to 18 who attend public schools. In this picture are high school students from South High School in Minneapolis that attend one of our partner sites were CB conducts training after school. Here CB’s partner is Phillips Community Center of Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board. CB regularly enters into partnerships to conduct the training as it increases community involvement and impact of the work. Each session enrolls up to 15 students. Each session takes up to 10 months consisting of Part I and Part II. CB conducts several training sessions at the same time. The curriculum used for this training is copyright curriculum by CB that came from seven years of community research, youth and community organizing and training data collected by CB.
- Tyesha Cooper, 10th grade South High School, Minneapolis Public Schools: ” The kids and teens have found a way to help their community out and it was something we wanted to do.” The community organizing showed me all the different things youth could do to make an impact on other community.”
- Matt Bell, Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board: “Because of this training and organizing, I know that the youth are ready to advocate in their schools and community and will be great with what they have learned. They are also wanting to teach younger youth how to become advocates.” “I have always believed in the youth and the power that they possess. Society likes to blame youth for all the bad things that happen in the community but there are more youth doing good positive things that do not get attention. I would encourage every youth I know to take part in this program”
Addressing Charter Schools That are Failing Immigrants and Students of Color in MN.
CrossingBarriers advocates, and organizes on behalf of parents, and students that are struggling in charter schools that are marketed specifically to low-income communities of color, and to specific ethnic communities. For example, many Somali parents left many schools in Saint Paul, and Minneapolis Public Schools due to the lack to connection from their schools. They were attracted to charter schools due to language and cultural connection the public schools did not provide. In addition, their children were failing and falling behind in math, reading and writing. As time went on, it became clear that most of the charter schools were not a better alternative. With less services, the students were not receiving better quality of education. They were being thought to pass the state and national exams, as well as the charter schools creating a segregated, and concentrated schools. Many of the students graduating struggled with comprehension, and had a difficult time passing entrance exams at local two year community colleges. As a result, parents were stuck in the middle with two school systems that were not meeting their needs. But most importantly, parents that CB advocated for in the past, and now have realized that in the charter schools that are now controlled by corporations, and the reform movement, do not value parent involvement, or parent voice. This threatens the mission to provide less then mediocre education with the goal to create corporations in public institutions, and to value the voices of those affected. The people that run these corporations have a privileged mind set, do not understand the poor, and feel that they can do a better job organizing the poor communities of color then the masses themselves that are daily fighting oppression, racism, and marginalization. As a result, parents have been shut out to advocate for their children which CB aims to change through organizing, and amplifying their voice one by one or as groups of parents from specific schools. The Minnesota Department of Education has little oversight over the operation, or accountability of these schools, due to the structure of charter schools, and statues that protect them from government involvement which gives a lot of power to the sponsors of these schools. In the past, these sponsor were from local teaching institutions, or programs, but now more are turning out to be corporate national companies.
Training Community Members, Parents and College Students to Organize
We also conduct leadership training for community members, parents, colleges students to address education challenges within their community for their children and for themselves. Here are some quotes from students and community members regarding CrossingBarriers’ Community Organizing and Training:
- Kirstin Casperson: “It was exciting to come to the training. I enjoyed each session.”
- Etta Ellingsworth: “I really enjoyed the training. It was one of the best things I have done. This has been so fulfilling.”
- Mirna Saucedo: “ As an immigrant parent from Mexico and now in America. I learned that I had skills I never thought I had.”
Here are parents and college students that want to address issues of hunger, homeless, low math scores and graduates rates. Through the organizing and training from CB, they were able to organize, address and advocate to improve the status of struggling students and address these concerns with administration and legislators as a result their voice were heard and recommendations taken with some of the students that attend MCTC.