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Youth Making Change Across the Country

Wonderful list of youth-led groups and programs originally tweeted by @prisonculture, organized below by state and city (where possible). For another list of youth-led, school-reform initiatives, check out this list by What Kids Can Do: Youth Organizing for school reform 

If you know of other youth-led social change efforts that should be added to this list, please leave a comment below with any relevant information.


School of Unity & Liberation (SOUL) (Oakland, CA) – supporting the development of a new generation of organizers rooted in a systemic change analysis -especially people of color, young women, queer and transgender youth and low-income people.

Youth Together out of Oakland (Oakland, CA) – address the root causes of educational inequities by developing multiracial youth leaders and engaging school community allies to promote positive school change.

Youth Justice Coalition (Los Angeles, CA) – youth-led movement mobilizing community-based action against youth criminalization.

The Center for Young Women’s Empowerment (San Francisco, CA) – supporting young and adult women in the juvenile and criminal justice systems.


Dream Defenders (FL) – training and organizing youth and students to create a sustainable network focused on creating real change in their commmunities.


Chicago Freedom School (Chicago, IL) – creating new generations of critical and independent thinking young people by providing training and education opportunities for youth and adult allies to develop leadership skills through the lens of civic action and through the study of the history of social movements and their leaders.

Chicago Students Union (Chicago, IL) – Voices of Chicago Public School students and parents.

Fearless Leading by the Youth (FLY) (Chicago, IL) – works to nurture young people’s visions for change ; member of STOP Chicago: Southside Together Organizing for Power.

Immigrant Youth Justice League (Chicago, IL) – led by undocumented organizers working towards full recognition of the rights and contributions of all immigrants. (Follow: @IYJL)

Mikva Challenge Juvenile Justice Council (Chicago, IL) – finding new ways to support youth re-entry and civic leadership after incarceration. (Follow: @MCJJustice)

The Young Women’s Empowerment Project (Chicago, IL) – offering safe, respectful, judgment-free spaces for girls and young women in the sex trade and street economies to recognize their goals, dreams and desires.


The STAY Project (Stay Together Appalachian Youth) (Kentucky) – a diverse regional network of young people throughout Central Appalachia who are working together to advocate for and actively participate in their home mountain communities.


BreakOUT (New Orleans, LA) – fighting the criminalization of LGBTQGNC youth

Reflect & Strengthen (Boston, MA) – a grassroots collective of young working class women from the urban neighborhoods of Boston who take a holistic approach to organizing to create personal and social transformation.


Detroit Summer (Detroit, MI) – transforming communities through youth leadership, creativity and collective action.


Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition (MS) –  working to protect Mississippi students from harassment and discrimination. (Follow: @MSSafeSchools)

New Mexico 

Young Women United (NM) –  community organizing project by and for young women of color in New Mexico.

New York

FIERCE NY (New York, NY) – building the leadership and power of (LGBTQ) youth of color in New York City.

Make the Road NY (New York, NY) – builds the power of Latino and working class communities to achieve dignity and justice through organizing, policy innovation, transformative education, and survival services.

NY Students Rising (NY) – statewide student movement in New York’s public universities. (Follow: @nystudentsrise)

NYS Youth Leadership Council (New York, NY) – First undocumented youth led organization in NY, working on passing the @NYDreamAct. (Follow: @NYSYLC)

Safe & Streetwise (New York, NY) – fighting criminalization of youth (particularly LGBTQGNC)

Rockaway Youth Task Force (Rockaway, NY) – empowering youth through civic engagement & volunteer opportunities and seeking to spark social change in the Rockaways through youth leadership.

Desis Rising Up and Moving (Queens, NY) – mobilizing and building the leadership of thousands of low-income, South Asian immigrants to lead social and policy change that impacts their own lives–from immigrant rights to education reform, civil rights, and workers’ justice.


Ohio StudentAssociation (OH) – fighting for educational justice across Ohio. (Follow: @OHIOStudents)


Philadelphia Student Union (Philadelphia, PA) – build the power of young people to demand a high quality education in the Philadelphia public school system.

Youth United for Change (Philadelphia, PA) – youth-led, democratic organization made up of youth of color and working class communities to hold school officials and government accountable to meeting the educational needs of Philadelphia public school students.

Rhode Island

Providence Youth Student Movement (RI) – mobilizing Southeast Asian youth into community organizing campaigns to foster healing and dialogue and build support and love for those who are isolated and marginalized.


Urban Underground (Milwaukee, WI) –  youth leadership development organization that engages youth in bold and life changing opportunities to address the most pressing problems facing them and their communities through  youth development, academic enrichment, and civic engagement.

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