In February 2015, Californians for Justice piloted an innovative addition to our Leadership Development Program – an intensive Leadership Bootcamp intended to enhance the skills of our advanced leaders. The 24 students who participated from Oakland & San Jose were the first cohort of advanced and empowered youth leaders who will lead their peers in local and statewide campaigns to improve their schools.
The Leadership Bootcamp, included an opening and closing convening, 2 weeks of advanced educational and skills-building workshops, and regular reflection and discussion spaces. The Bootcamp offered an advanced version of our Summer Youth Leadership Academy (SYLA), with a stronger focus on issues in public education policy and advocacy. While our SYLA program offers an introductory understanding on an array of social justice topics, the Bootcamp aimed to deepen students’ understanding of issues specific to public education to give youth the knowledge they need to lead delegations with school leaders and elected officials.
During the bootcamp our leaders learned about:
Changing Perceptions through StoryTelling: Leaders reflected on their “story of self” through stereotypes they face in their schools and community and developed the story of “WE”, to shift the perceptions of underrepresented students and students of color as valued contributors of their schools and communities.
Transformative Youth Organizing: Students are so focused on leading educational policy efforts on the ground that having space to reflect on their own personal struggles and leadership was a much needed space for them to build upon their leadership and develop a personal vision for social change for themselves and their communities.
Power of Policy Advocacy: Students got a more in-depth training on educational advocacy and the importance of developing strategies, building alliances, and carrying out tactics to create lasting changes in their communities.
Student leaders who participated have a stronger foundation of knowledge and skills they are now using to support their peers’ development, and to advocate for education at the local and state level. Students left the Bootcamp feeling personally connected to the educational justice work they do with CFJ. They made personal commitments for their own growth and emotional well being as young organizers engaging in difficult work. One student said “this was the best thing [they’ve] participated in in CFJ” and that the Bootcamp really helped them to work through personal struggles that were holding them back from reaching their full potential in organizing their peers and engaging in CFJ’s programs.
Geordee Corpuz, CFJ’s Lead Organizer in Oakland said students left the Bootcamp with the knowledge that “organizing isn’t just about systemic change, it is deeply connected to changing ourselves so we have the strength to transform our communities.”
We want to extend our deepest thanks to the Irene Scully Foundation, the Packard Foundation, and the Gerbode Foundation for providing the support needed to launch this innovative program. Thank You!