New York State Youth Leadership Council 2016
The New York State Youth Leadership Council is a place where undocumented people come together, organize, and tackle the injustices that face our community. In 2016, hundreds of undocumented youth and their allies came together to challenge the systems of oppression that keep us out of school, limit our access to healthcare and living wages, and try to disempower us.
Here's how we built and reclaimed power in 2016.
Leadership Development and Political Education
Through events like our Immigrant Youth Empowerment Conference and our Youth Rise Up training, we reached hundreds of students, educators, and community members. These events are designed to give attendees the tools to organize, the space to reflect on the issues that our communities face, and brainstorm solutions that uplift all of our voices. Out of these events, people are left with a better understanding of how systemic oppression plays out in our everyday lives and empowered to question and challenge these systems.
Our advocacy work continues to challenge the state and local-level institutions and policies that block our access to education and criminalize our community. This year we continued to highlight the need for the New York Dream Act and better access to higher education for immigrant youth.
A main focus of our work is showing up in real solidarity with all people. That means supporting organizers and organizations doing work on the ground and across issues. This year, we worked with partners to build a shared understanding that true liberation means liberation for all people.
Through partnerships, we were able to deepen our understanding of the intersectionality of our issues: including racism, sexism, transphobia, xenophobia, and others.
Collective Healing and Resiliency
Much of our work and the victories we’ve achieved were challenged in 2016 by an increase in overt anti-immigrant sentiment and xenophobia. In response to this and in order to build resiliency, we made space for our members to share their worries and fears, and also what motivates them to continue to organize. We’ve created opportunities for people to express these emotions in a safe environment and to remind ourselves about the importance of our work and our wellbeing.
Our scholarship program gave students tangible resources to continue their studies. We also hosted writing clinics and supported students in their applications to other scholarships and funding programs.