Student Voice Chapters Program

I help students advocate for student-centric policy to address the inequities in their schools by connecting them to resources and networks.

Photo of Alexis Esi
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Written by

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

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

May 9, 2001

Help us stay in touch!

Phone Number: 609-647-0945 Mailing Address: 1 Elm Court New Jersey: Princeton Jct (08550)

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Website: https://www.stuvoice.org/chapters Instagram: @stu_voice Facebook: @thestuvoice Twitter: @stu_voice

Date You Started Your Project Started

September/1/2018

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

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

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

Educators and administrators are implementing policy to address the root causes of education inequities. Although students are the most impacted by these policies, they are seldom included in decision-making. This leaves students who are passionate about their schools feeling discouraged and powerless and leaves policymakers without the valuable insight students can offer in creating relevant and applicable solutions to meet their specific needs.

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

We empower students who feel passionately about their schools to advocate for change in a solution-oriented manner by providing them with a clear path to action to address inequities in their schools. Chapters are student led groups at the school level that work on policy and school issues. Our goal is to provide chapters with the best resources and networks to make this Happen. To name a few resources-- chapters receive a “How to Start a Chapter Guide” which teaches how to discuss authentic student experiences and frustrations in a way that translates them into tangible solutions, so students move from the problem-listing stage to problem-solving in every discussion. We also provide topic-specific discussion guides, based on the 9 rights students across the US voted into our Student Bill of Rights, to help give students a clear research start point for their solutions. Our School Board Testifying guide helps structure advocacy. We continuously create new resources based on the needs of our chapters. Chapters across the nation are connected through our team Slack Channel and monthly calls, where they can learn from and support one another.

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

After a tutoring experience in a nearby elementary school, I became acutely aware of educational inequity that exists across the country. I was fixated on finding a solution and often found myself grappling with what and who could solve it. It wasn’t until I watched the film Teach Us All, which follows a NYC student-led education reform group, IntegrateNYC, that I was enlightened to the power that I had as a student to advocate for effective and applicable change. I watched as students across the city banded together to successfully create thoughtful and relevant solutions and demand that administrators and educators listen to and work with them. I am dedicated to creating a path to action so students across the country can feel empowered like those students to create actionable solutions and be a part of the decision-making in their schools.

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.

When someone fills out our interest form, I follow up with a call and discuss their school, their goals, and how the program aligns with them. I give additional guidance based on the goals they express. For example, a student in Virginia was concerned about testing policy in his school that perpetuates inequality in his district. I pointed him to the discussion guides on Access & Affordability and Diversity & Inclusion to help him get a conversation started in his community. He was then given access to our Slack Channel, where he collaborates with other chapter leaders. The chapter is now looking to create a collective student action toward more equitable school admissions standards. They are excited to begin engaging in calls with all chapter leaders starting next month.

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

Our chapters are locally-focused but nationally connected. Our chapters focus on policy in their schools because we believe this is where students have the greatest initial impact. But we also recognize the potential for collaboration within a group of students with such diverse experiences. So our monthly meetings and Slack channel are places where students can serve as mentors, sounding boards, and support groups for one another. Ex; A chapter in a NY school advocating for gender-neutral bathrooms might learn from a chapter in CA who did this successfully the year prior.

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

In the past year we have engaged with over 15 students across the country who have established or are working toward establishing student voice chapters in their schools and communities. These students represent all regions of the United States including South Dakota, New Jersey, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Texas, and California. They are creating chapters that work alongside student government, ones that inform school boards, and ones that collaborate across school districts. They are tackling issues including dress code policy, diversity and inclusivity initiatives, school pride and student engagement, disability awareness and accessibility to name only a few.

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

In December we will put out a large scale push for new chapters. We plan to increase the program’s exposure on our platforms and hope to gain more chapter leaders, especially in areas of the country where we are lacking representation. Next month, we will begin our regular monthly team calls with our network of chapter leaders. We hope these calls will be a place where leaders can connect with each other and a place where we can connect them to adult allies working on related programming and policy. Finally, we will produce more resources that are responsive to the chapters' needs. We are currently compiling a guide that will help students strategize ways to connect with school administrators to successfully advocate for their work.

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

  • Project Plan & Strategy

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

  • Mentors/advisors

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

  • Black or African American (for example: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian, etc) (8)

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

  • Communities of color

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Ashoka page or contact

Evaluation results

3 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 66.7%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. - 0%

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 100%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 66.7%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 100%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 50%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 100%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

2 comments

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Comment
Photo of Aditya Desai
Team

Alexis: I absolutely love your Student Voice Chapters Program; including students in the decision-making and policy process for their own education is a critical, yet often over looked component in modern institutions. Your approach to solve this conflict—by forming chapters across the nation—is truly innovative and has great potential to produce tangible results!

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