CPS's 1st Youth Equity Leadership Summit

Youth are at the center of the work that we do in CPS, and to ensure that the youth perspective was at the forefront of our launch as the new Office of Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (OEIB), the first event we sponsored was the Youth Equity Leadership Summit to explore: What does equity sound like, look like, and feel like?, specifically from the perspectives of our youth.

Overview of Work
In June, OEIB invited scholars from different affinity and cultural-based groups at CRLS to participate in small group listening sessions to share with us what a summit centering equity around their needs would look like. After the completion of the focus groups, we invited the youth leaders to design and facilitate the summit. Starting in July, we met with over 20 youth on a weekly basis and provided facilitator training to support them in the planning of the summit.

During CPS’s 1st Youth Equity Leadership Summit, over 120 participants gathered via Zoom. The summit featured a welcome from the Superintendent, CRLS alumni guest speakers and panelists, a student musical performance, and 4 workshops designed by and led by youth centered around the theme of “What does equity sound like, look like, and feel like in CPS?”

The event was entirely student-led and facilitated. Students facilitated both the main room, the small workshops, and the panel discussions. Facilitators were professional, poised, thoughtful, and respectful, which provided a space for participants to be engaged, vulnerable, and truthful. Participants talked about both personal and institutional experiences, and the impact that these experiences have had on their academic learning and social-emotional wellbeing. Most importantly, they shared suggestions as to how to improve equity in CPS.

Planning Process

  • May- reached out to Principal Smith to learn about CRLS identity and cultural-based student groups
  • June-sent an email to advisors to connect with youth leaders
  • Late June/early July- hosted 3 small group listening sessions with youth leaders
  • July-September, youth leaders met on a weekly basis to plan

Student Panel

  • African American Studies Initiative
  • Intersectional Feminist Club
  • Anti-Asian Sentiment Workshop
  • Equity Collaborative
  • Peer Mentoring Support Group

Alumna Speakers
R. SimmonsRickteyzia Simmons
 was born and raised in Cambridge. She went to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from kindergarten through 8th grade, then to CRLS. After studying fashion at Lasell University and the London College of Fashion, she returned to CRLS to give back the community, teaching 9th grade history and a new elective, the History of Fashion. Ms. Simmons has three younger siblings.

QueenQueen-Cheyenne Wade
 is an organizer and educator based in Greater Boston. Their work focuses on ending cycles of carceral/colonial violence, transformative justice, youth leadership, Black Radical/Marxist frameworks.

Student-Facilitated Workshops

Big Ideas/Themes

  • Visioning for what an equitable classroom looks like.
  • Creating a truly inclusive community includes awareness about and interaction with students in sub-separate programs.
  • Discussions about mental health and intersectional identities of young people needed within the school curriculum.
  • Addressing stigma and other obstacles around seeking mental health support since attendees reported that it is sometimes difficult for students to ask for help.

Recommended Next Steps: OEIB
We heard….

  • Continue to recruit a more diverse educator workforce
  • Provide additional mental health supports and community based programs that are woven into the school day and curriculum
  • Provide training for educators on discrimination and anti-bias training -in progress
  • Provide more student-led workshops or initiatives uplifted by administration
  • Create a more organized incident reporting system- in progress

Priorities and Investments/Next Steps...

  • Leadership coaching cycles (ongoing)
  • Implement and train educators on The Story Exchange, with pilots K-12 (Winter 2022)
  • Choice courses and Speaker Series focused on becoming an anti-racist, anti-bias educator (Winter and Spring 2022)
  • Additional summits and work with Students of Color Coalition (Winter and Spring 2022)
  • Incident reporting system (Spring 2022)
  • Student Advisory Council ( ongoing)

Participant Feedback
A few quotes from the summit feedback form:

  • “The summit made sure to include student voices, had speakers to inform and educate attendees, nice discussions, stressed the importance of perspective and involvement from students no matter their background”
  • “A plus about this summit was that I got to focus on listening to people's experiences and seeing how they align with things I believe should change in CPS. I'm so glad I got to contribute my ideas and thoughts/story to people who came here to listen”
  • “I used to think equity meant equality, now I know that equality is giving everyone the same things, while equity is giving people different support only based on their needs”
  • “I used to think equity meant making sure everyone gets what they need in order to succeed, now I know it means WORKING TOGETHER to make sure everyone gets what they need in order to succeed”
  • “More full group discussions. It would be cool if students signed a feedback form beforehand to suggest ideas of what they want to talk about”

Office of Equity, Inclusion & Belonging

Contact Us

Manuel J. Fernandez, Chief Equity Officer
Leslie Jiménez, Director of Equity
Sam Musher, Youth Advocacy Specialist
Ailene Orr, Curriculum and Training Specialist
Mia Ferej, Special Assistant
Raymond Porch, Director of Family and Community Engagement
Manny Jeudy, Assistant Program Manager for Family Engagement
Debbie Bonilla, Family Engagement Specialist
Kasey Clermont, Social Worker For Students/Families Experiencing Housing Insecurity
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