Announcing YOI’s New Director: Loan Tran

Dear community, 

                  I joined the Youth Organizing Institute family in 2013 as a volunteer and community supporter. The first program that I came in touch with was YOI’s Summer Freedom School–a multi-week summer camp for young people who want to fight the power and change the world. I got the witness the magic of high school students who were committing themselves to dismantling the school-to-prison-pipeline, end school re-segregation, and make schools safe for LGBTQ youth. In 3 days, I was completely transformed by the vision of YOI.

In the summer of 2014, I joined YOI staff in a part time capacity, relating to Freedom School, communications, and development work of the organization. In the past 3 years of working with YOI I have see firsthand how crucial it is to believe the experiences of young people of the world we live in. More importantly, how necessary it is to create space for youth to take control of their destinies and strategize for a world worth living in. From “Building Bridges: Teen Convening” that brings together youth leaders across different organizations and issues; to “Queernival: A Celebration of Southern Queer Youth Liberation”; to our” Solutions Not Suspensions” campaign that has pushed for restorative justice programs, ensured bilingual (Spanish-English) access in Wake County schools, to decreasing suspension rates, our commitment is always to our movement and the youth on the frontlines–without their steadfast vision, this work would not be as dynamic, creative, and powerful.

As of June, I am transitioning into the Director role at YOI, succeeding the vision and leadership of Elena Everett, who has committed her greatest love to building this organization along with original co-founder Monse Alvarez. It is with great humility that I accept this role and an honored to be part of a community whose support, love, and fighting spirit makes this work possible. I have a lot of ideas and visions I hope to share later this summer.

In the meantime, nothing would feel more congratulatory than a contribution to support YOI this summer as we enter our 7th year of the Summer Freedom School program. We are running two tracks (one in Durham, one in Raleigh), supporting our friends in Chapel Hill, and organizing an intergenerational Freedom School in Eastern NC this fall.

Our Freedom School program has always operated on a shoe-string budget and with the love of volunteers, donors, and allies who show up time and time again. Please consider making a contribution today to help us reach our goal of raising $2,500 for this summer.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be part of this work and to lead the Youth Organizing Institute into our next period of work, we will continue to not only defend and protect the gains made by young freedom fighters but push for an even more transformative vision of how young people should be able to participate in and craft our society.

make a donation

With love and solidarity,

Loan Tran

Recap on the Week of Action Against School Pushout!

pushbackiconFrom September 28 to October 7, the Youth Organizing Institute, NC HEAT and the Education Justice Alliance held a Week of Action against school pushout, participating in NC Pride, holding a Press Conference outside of the Wake County School Board office, holding a march in downtown Raleigh against the school-to-prison pipeline, and phone banking to remind people to vote in the school board election.  Here’s a recap of each event:

Saturday, September 28: NC Pride

Youth from NC HEAT, iNSIDEoUT and various high schools throughout the triangle march together in the NC Pride parade.

Youth from NC HEAT, iNSIDEoUT and various high schools throughout the triangle march together in the NC Pride parade.

NC HEAT and allies preparing for pride and the march against school push out!

NC HEAT and allies preparing for pride and the march against school push out!

Alongside iNSIDEoUT and around 50 other teens, NC HEAT marched in the NC Pride parade in Durham to raise awareness for the criminalization of queer youth and youth of color.  It was a fun celebration and a festive way to kick off the week!

Tuesday, October 1: Press Conference to Launch Campaign for a Pause in Suspensions

Members of NC HEAT, YOI and EJA speak out against suspensions in Wake County.

Members of NC HEAT, YOI and EJA speak out against suspensions in Wake County.

News 14 Carolina – “Wake Co. group wants school district to ease suspension policy”

YOI, NC HEAT and the Education Justice Alliance came together to hold a press conference in front of the Wake County Public School System central office in Cary to announce our shared campaign calling for a pause on suspensions in Wake County.  We spoke in front of the WCPSS building as well as during public comment after the school board meeting.  Click here for a video of NC HEAT members speaking during public comment (0:21:00).

Friday, October 4: 2nd Annual March to End the School-to-Prison Pipeline


News & Observer WakeEd blog- “Groups to march to Central Prison to protest Wake County school discipline policies”

News & Observer – “Raleigh groups march to reduce youth imprisonment”

NC HEAT, YOI, EJA and other allies including [??], Internationalist Prison Books Collective and UNControllables marched together to speak out against school push out–policies that lead to students of color, queer youth, students with disabilities and low-income students being suspended, expelled or dropping out at a higher rate than their peers.  The march began with a speak-out at Washington GT Elementary in Raleigh and processed to NC Central Prison, choosing the route to represent the school-to-prison pipeline.  Along the way, marchers stopped outside of Shaw University at the memorial plaque for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to honor radical history and to remember those we love who fight for justice every day.  We then held a noise demonstration outside of  Central Prison with drums and our voices, letting prisoners know that they are not forgotten and not alone.

THANK YOU to everyone who participated in the week’s events!  We wrapped up on Monday by making phone calls to remind voters about the school board candidates.  Here is an N&O article about the school board election results.

Stay tuned as we announce our upcoming plans for the end of the year!

Wake County School Board Candidates Answer Questions about Discipline Disparities and Youth Engagement

This September, NC HEAT members attended a series of candidate forums for aspiring Wake County school board members and posed questions around discipline issues and youth voice and engagement in education policy issues.  These questions were also emailed to the candidates who had 10 days to respond.

Four of the eight candidates went on record, answering the questions the youth posed.

Their answers can be found on this pdf flier, which is a compilation of their responses

Sept 10, 2013: Wake School Board Candidate Forum in Cary, NC
Sept 10, 2013: Wake School Board Candidate Forum in Cary, NC

National Week of Action to End School Pushout

ImageThe Youth Organizing Institute, the Education Justice Alliance and NC HEAT will join over 50 organizations in more than 20 states to demand that our school systems adopt positive approaches to addressing behavior problems.  Zero tolerance discipline policies, school police or armed guards, and other punitive practices have been found to result in much higher suspension and expulsion rates, often for minor misbehavior, fueling a “School-to-Prison Pipeline.”

The week will launch a campaign to put a moratorium, a temporary pause, on level one out of school suspensions in Wake County. In the 2011-2012 school year, over 14,000 students in Wake County were suspended from school. Students of color, economically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities were suspended at disproportionately high rates. in Wake County where black students receive over 60% of suspensions but make up less than 25% of the school population.

This campaign asks that during the pause administrators and community members study and recommend alternatives to suspensions that implement research-based restorative justice practices.


WHAT: NC HEAT marches in Durham Pride to oppose criminalization of LGBTQ Youh
WHEN: September 28, 12:00PM
WHERE: Duke East Campus

WHAT: Press Conference to Launch Campaign for Pause in Suspensions
WHEN: October 1, 2013 5:00PM
WHERE: In front of the WCPSS administrative building (5625 Dillard Dr, Cary NC 27518)

WHAT: Youth-led End the School-to-Prison Pipeline March to Central Prison 
RSVP and share our facebook event
WHEN: October 4, 4:00PM-6:30PM
WHERE: The march begins at Washington Elementary School (1000 Fayetteville St, Raleigh, NC ‎27601) and ends at Central Prison (1300 Western Blvd).
**Watch this video, created by NC HEAT member Q Wideman about last years march.

NC HEAT Plans Second Annual March

flier smaller fileAs part of Dignity in School’s National Week of Action Against School Pushout, NC HEAT (Heroes Emerging Among Teens) and the Youth Organizing Institute are calling for a MARCH & SPEAK-OUT against the School-to-Prison pipeline.

This is the Second Annual march, led by NC HEAT members.

The march will start with a speak out at Washington Elementary in Raleigh (1000 Fayetteville St.) and proceed to Central Prison for a demonstration with music, drums and raised voices!

Bring friends, signs and noisemakers, and WEAR YOUR BACKPACKS! Show up to push back against school pushouts!

Big Plans for the National Week of Action!


On September 21, members of YOI, NCHEAT and the Education Justice Alliance met to discuss our plans for the upcoming year.  In particular, we planned out the upcoming Week of Action, part of Dignity in School’s National Week of Action Against School Pushout. The Week of Action will take place from September 28 through October 5.  NCHEAT will start out the week by marching at NC Pride in Durham on September 28.  On October 1, there will be a press conference to announce YOI, NCHEAT and EJA’s campaign for a moratorium on out-of-state suspensions, taking place  immediately before a Wake County School Board meeting at which students and parents will speak out against the crisis of suspensions in Wake County.  On October 4, NCHEAT will lead Push Back Against Push Out, a youth-led march against school pushout and the prison-industrial-complex. YOI and NCHEAT members planned out costumes, speeches and chants in preparation.

Get excited!  More info on the Week of Action will be announced soon.

Youth Grill Wake School Board Candidates on Discipline Issues

Sept 10, 2013: Wake School Board Candidate Forum in Cary, NC
Sept 10, 2013: NC HEAT members line up to ask questions at Wake School Board Candidate Forum in Cary, NC

On Monday, September 9, seven NC HEAT members attended the Cary Candidate forum located at Covenant Christian church, to ask perspective school board members the questions about the epidemic of suspensions and racial disparities in school discipline practices.   NC HEAT members used data-driven research to generate thought-provoking questions to encourage candidates to discuss their vision for how to address the school-to-prison pipeline in Wake County.

NC HEAT members highlighted that data shows that youth of color and disabled youth are suspended and pushed out of public schools at a rates alarmingly higher than their white, non-special needs counterparts.  Perspective candidates Nancy Caggia and Bill Fetcher seemed unable or unprepared to adequately address these policies issues.  Both candidates stated that they would not support a Moratorium on Out-of-School Suspensions.  After hearing the research and questions presented by NC HEAT members, NC HEAT hopes that the candidates will consider working more closely with students and communities to solve our school discipline crisis and create policies that treat every student, regardless of race, gender, gender presentation, ability, or sexual orientation with dignity.

School Board Candidate Forums

School is back in session that means the work of the Youth Organizing Institute and NC HEAT ramping up! The Wake County School Board elections are right around the corner and we are co-sponsoring a series of candidate forums with WakeUp Wake County, the League of Women Voters, and El Pueblo. It is critical that candidates respond to the needs of the youth and community they seek to serve. Please locate the candidate forum in your district and come ready to ask a question!

District 9 (Cary NC) 7:00PM-9:00PM — September 9th Covenant Christian Church
District 2 (Garner NC) 6:30PM-8:30PM  — September 12 Garner Performing Arts Center
istrict 7 (Raleigh NC) 6:30PM-8:30PM — September 19 St Francis of Assisi
istrict 1 (Raleigh NC) 6:30PM-8:30PM — September 26 Wake Chapel Church

YOI Hiring Three Student Interns

Youth Organizing Institute seeking 3 student interns for Fall 2013 to work on social media, marketing, organizing, and grassroots fundraising.

The Youth Organizing Institute is a popular education leadership development program for high school age LGBTQ youth, low-income youth, and youth of color in Wake, Durham and Orange counties. We believe in grassroots organizing and elevating the voices of young people to organize in their own name for meaningful change.

Positions are based in Triangle area. Our office is located in Durham and interns will be required to work in the office one day/week.


We are seeking candidates who can make a three month commitment: September 16 – December 18.


  •     A strong and proven commitment to progressive values and building the power of youth and students, especially LGBTQ youth, women, low-income youth, and youth of color,
  •     Excellent communication and teamwork skills,
  •     Excellent writing skills
  •     Reliable, outgoing, self-motivated and detail-oriented,
  •     A means of transportation to get to Durham once/week.


Submit resume, cover letter (NO LONGER THAN TWO PAGES), and three references to Use the subject line “YOI Intern” and which internship(s) you are applying for (communication, grassroots fundraising, event planning).  In your cover letter, please answer the following questions:

  •     Why are you applying and what skills and experiences?
  •     Why do you think youth organizing is important?
  •     Tell us about someone you consider a role model and why.
  •     Tell us about one issue you feel passionate about.

Communication Intern

Position: Intern (Paid)  A $500 stipend is offered with this Internship.
Dates: September 16, 2013 – December 18, 2013
Hours: 10-15 hours/week


  •     Help Brand the Youth Organizing Institute including T-shirts, website, social media, and other materials
  •     Create community awareness by coordinating a grassroots fundraising event
  •     Help with social media and traditional media outreach,
  •     Updating and revamping the website
  •     Donor management and engagement including, helping with donor management software implementation, sending newsletters, sending a mailing.

Event Planning Intern

Position: Intern (Paid)
Dates: September 16, 2013 – December 18, 2013
Hours: 10-15 hours/week


  •     Help plan the first annual winter Ella Baker Gala to Honor Youth Allies
  •     Help to develop program, location, invitations, and logistics
  •     Develop promotional materials for Gala
  •     Help find sponsors for the Gala

Grassroots Fundraising Intern

Position: Intern (Paid)
Dates: September 16, 2013 – December 18, 2013
Hours: 10-15 hours/week


  •     Work with community establishments, including local businesses to identify opportunities and solicit support
  •     Organize a grassroots fundraising event (could be a house party, drag show, triva night….) in Chapel Hill.
  •     Support Winter Ella Baker Gala to Honor Youth Allies, including soliciting and identify sponsors, auction items, outreach and logistics.

NC HEAT wants YOU to emerge as a HERO!


On Tuesday, September 2, NC HEAT (North Carolina Heroes Emerging Among Teens) invites passionate, powerful high school youth in the Triangle Area to attend their back-to-school orientation meeting. NC HEAT is a united multicultural group of youth from different aspects of life seeking a common purpose. We organize and advocate for civil rights and justice in our community for ourselves and for future generations. On Tuesday, we will discuss the history and legacy of NC HEAT, the work we have done in the past to improve our schools and communities, the work that we can do together in the future, and the current political landscape in the area as it pertains to education and the lives of youth.
The meeting will be held at DH Hill Library on NC State University’s campus fro 5pm to 6:30pm, we’ll have snacks and transportation can be provided if needed.  Contact ladylettuce95[at]gmail[dot]com if you need a ride.
Come out and join a community of passionate and engaged students! We are the ones we’ve been waiting for!