| Program: || Youth Together Project, Bay Area, CA |
| Contact(s): || Margaretta Lin, Project Director: (510) 834-9455 |
| Purpose: || To prevent youth violence and foster racial justice in schools by equipping the leadership of high school youth to address the institutional roots of the conflicts |
The Youth Together Project was created in October 1996 in response to rising racial conflicts in California's Bay Area schools. The project is a consortium of multiracial agencies: ARC Associates, East Bay Asian Youth Center, International Institute, West Oakland Health Council and Xicana Moratorium Coalition. These groups believe that in order to achieve long-term resolutions to racial conflicts in the schools, the students must be involved in creating the solutions. Funded initially by the U.S. Department of Education's hate crimes prevention grant, Youth Together is currently funded by the department and additional private foundation grants, including the Evelyn and Walter Haas Foundation and the Y and H Soda Foundation.
Youth Together develops multiracial student teams to lead school-based efforts to prevent and reduce racial conflicts and violence in five targeted high schools in Oakland, Berkeley and Richmond. Each of the five Youth Together consortium members is responsible for one school. A group of approximately ten diverse students at each school undergoes a series of biweekly trainings that are run by the consortium group. In addition, each month there is a project-wide meeting for the young people from all five schools. Through a racial violence prevention curriculum, imparted in these trainings and through team discussions, students develop an understanding of the dynamics of race, equity and violence in their schools. These students then mentor their peers and younger students to pass on the understanding and skills that they have learned. Participants also work with school administrators and staff to educate them about students' perspectives on race and equity issues. Finally, the students develop school campaigns to address the underlying roots of racial violence, and work with members of the school community to implement these changes. Through the design and implementation of the Youth Together Project, students learn that their perspectives are valid and valued. They also learn to find positive ways to resolve conflicts and to build alliances across color lines. Youth Together also operates a summer program for eighth graders to increase their understanding of race and peacemaking.
Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments
As a result of the Youth Together Project, 350 young people have increased their awareness and understanding of their own and other groups' cultural and racial histories and backgrounds. The project has empowered young people to believe that they have the ability to change themselves, their friends and their schools into positive forces working for justice and peace. Youth Together has also enabled school communities to work together to change the policies and practices that give rise to racial conflicts and divisions. Youth Together is currently developing a curriculum guide which will be available for dissemination and replication in Fall 1999.