Student Voice Ambassador Program

The Student Voice Ambassador Program brings together students from across the United States to create effective change in their schools.

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Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Website or social media url(s) (optional): | @stu_voice on Instagram & Twitter | Student Voice on Facebook

Date You Started Your Project Started

August 26th, 2017

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Often, students don’t have access to resources, materials, or connections that they need in order to bring change to these systems. Many students have passions that lie in education equity, but the field is incredibly vast and it is hard to know where to start. When students have access to the resources they need, they begin to see the change that is so desperately needed in our current education system.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

The Student Voice Ambassador Program brings together students from across the United States to create effective change at the school and local levels. Each year, we select a cohort of 15 high school students from communities all around the country. One main goal of the program is to provide Ambassadors with webinars to help them develop as activists and advocates. Drawing upon a vast network of professionals and experts in various education-related fields, these webinars (“PD calls”) are meant to give Ambassadors a deep, personal, and authentic look into the work that they are doing. The second focus of the Ambassador Program is the design and implementation of a passion project that addresses an issue within Ambassadors’ schools. These passion projects set up the Ambassadors with the skills needed to be able to continue creating community-scale change well into the future. The Student Voice Ambassador Program exists to empower students to be the changemakers that their school communities need. By providing resources, training, and an avenue to grow their practical skills, participants in the Ambassador Program are able to create the positive change they are capable of.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

In the tenth grade, I joined a public school that had an innovative, project-based curriculum. This school showed me how important it was for students like me to have an impact on the world around me, not just move through the motions of a ‘high school experience’. After internships in various equity-focused organizations, I knew that what I cared about was creating schools that work for all students. I joined Student Voice in June 2019, just three months ago, as the Ambassador Program Coordinator. The Ambassador Program had existed for two years before I joined, and was not serving students as well as it could have been. Since joining Student Voice, I’ve shifted the program’s output from just PD calls over to also implementing a real-world project. Rooting all of our work in equity is my primary goal, as well as supporting the students in pursuing their passions in change-making.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

Ambassadors begin the year by working with me to get down initial ideas, then I form small workgroups for ambassadors based on that. Ambassadors have small group meetings once a month to share ideas and provide feedback for one another. Once a month, Ambassadors attend a webinar led by student leaders or adult professionals. The calls open for a Q&A so that the students have a chance to engage meaningfully with our guests. These calls focus on a variety of topics, from fundraising strategies to facilitation practice. This array allows for students to build strong foundations is both theory and skills. Throughout the year, students work on their passion projects, addressing problems in their schools. I facilitate this process, and students spend the majority of their time with us working on these projects. We engage in feedback loops and collaborative work year-round.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Often, adult-led spaces addressing student problems are so dominated by voices that have all of the power and say already. Having a student-led program allows for us to shed some of those uncomfortable power dynamics, and truly harness the power of young people in a supportive, understanding environment. This program’s greatest strength is the geographic spread of our members. Being a fully remote program, we are able to support students from across the entire country. This way, resources and action are distributed to many communities, rather than having many hands in the same project.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

“It made me understand that I can't live in the shadow of policymakers that are more outgoing and popular than I am. I'm my own advocate and I will continue to do the things I believe are right, and come out with changes in policy for the better of all students” - Menduyarka Samuel Dennis | “Hearing everyone's perspectives on the monthly calls was really awesome. I feel like our experiences helped others at times and that we really came together as a group.” - Jared Stefanowicz | “If they can do it, why can’t I?” - Odalis Aguilar-Aguilar | Previous Ambassadors have started international foundations (Malika Rawal, Help Hygiene Foundation), created teaching guides for educators (Josh Miller, Teaching Gen Z with XYZ University), and led successful mental health campaigns in their communities (Taylor Kahn-Perry, Charleston County School District).

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

This year’s cohort has a lot of large goals to hold community-building events and to host trainings for their administrators, and money is one of their biggest factors stopping them from being able to. Ambassadors currently get a $250 stipend to aid their work, and we would like to expand that as much as possible. We would love to expand the number of applicants we can take, as we had to select just 15 Ambassadors out of a steep 80 applicants. That’s far too many rejections for my liking, as we want to be able to support students from as many communities as possible. I would love to be able to support ambassadors in going to conferences and events to share their projects and gain more experience in the work that they are doing.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Program Design

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Sales
  • Donations less than $100
  • Donations between $100-$1k
  • Donations between $1k-$5k
  • Donations over $10k

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Communities of color
  • LGBTQ community

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others

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