1st day of Raleigh Freedom School

It’s Day 1 of Freedom School in Raleigh! This morning we soul mapped with Carly, then did radical journaling with Des. Now Babette and Bryan are leading a workshop on dismantling oppression.

What are the roots of oppression? Check out our tree: colonialism, patriarchy, and capitalism!

Thanks to everyone who has helped make this happen!

Free Wildin!

We are writing as members of the Durham Association of Educators in NC. As teachers, it is our job to make sure our students can learn and grow. And when they can’t, it is our duty to fight for that to change. We have received disturbing news regarding one of our students, Wilden Guillen Acosta (206 799 049), who is being held in Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia. On Tuesday, June 7th, he was placed into solitary confinement for minor administrative violations, the last of which occurred while Wildin was helping a fellow inmate translate a letter from Spanish to English. Along with Wildin, we are unsure why he was issued this third citation for an act of kindness and sharing knowledge- something we highly encourage in our classrooms.

More troubling is the fact that this sentence occurred the day before his high school graduation from Riverside High School- something we know was on his mind after working so diligently in our classes to ensure his graduation before he was detained and repeatedly requesting his school work while in detention. The psychological effects of solitary confinement are debilitating and we worry about the impact on Wildin as he faces such a long time alone, especially after just having missed his high school graduation. The timing couldn’t be worse.

We are disturbed to learn from Wildin that on his first day in “the hole,” all of the restricted housing units were full and so Wildin was placed in a cell with a detainee who was mentally unstable and violent. In addition to the threat this posed to Wildin’s safety and well-being, it is troubling to see evidence that suggests solitary confinement is being used in the absence of mental health support for inmates.

Moreover, the sequence of events leading to this disproportionate sentence lead us to believe that Wildin is facing retaliation from CCA and ICE for being a high profile detainee who is an outspoken advocate about the conditions of confinement in Stewart and his own prolonged detention. These citations come after Rep Butterfield’s visit to Stewart and during a week of action for Wildin. Furthermore, these citations are very minor and punishment in solitary confinement is grossly disproportionate. We do not believe that community support should result in mistreatment, and as teachers, we are committed to continue fighting for the safety and rights of our student until his release.

We are concerned that this sentence was originally for 45 days in restricted housing, and that it was only reduced to 15 days due to the advocacy of our Congressman Butterfield. The severity of Wildin’s initial sentence leads us to believe that he will continue to be targeted for retaliation by CCA personnel and ICE. As a result we are calling for his immediate release. Wildin is clearly not safe in this jail and retaliation will continue as long as he is detained. We are also calling for the immediate release of the 12+ other young people currently detained at Stewart and Irwin Detention Centers, as we believe they are facing similar conditions and their mental well-being is at risk.

To Wildin and all the youth in detention: We see you, we see what is happening, and we will fight until all of you are back in our classrooms and communities where you belong.

Durham Association of Educators

Solidarity with Orlando!

We send our condolences and solidarity to all LGBTQ people impacted by the mass shooting in Orlando, Fl.

To the LGBTQ youth for whom this tragedy is another confirmation that the world is not made in your image; for the Muslim youth for whom this tragedy offers no room for mourning because the Islamophobic hysteria has already begun; for the LGBTQ Muslim youth for whom this tragedy feels like you must choose between different parts of who you are: we see you, we love you, we will fight for and with you, and we believe that a different world is possible.

We fight back against this anti-LGBTQ violence, against racism, and against Islamophobia. We have nothing to lose but our chains!

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

7th Annual Summer Freedom School: Build Youth Power to Fight the Power!

yoi fs 2016

Participants of 2015 YOI Freedom School Durham Track in front of the historic Pauli Murray House.

Help us raise $2,500 to support the 7th Annual Summer Freedom School.

Over the past 6 years, YOI has convened the Summer Freedom School program, bringing together young people who dare to change the world.

Youth of color, LGBTQ youth, working class youth, and immigrant youth come together from high schools across the Triangle; from Raleigh to Durham, Greensboro to Fayetteville, Benson to Fuquay Varina, Chapel Hill to Carborro with a common passion for dismantling the school to prison pipeline, ending school resegregation, making schools safe for LGBTQ youth, and much more.

As we enter our 7th year of the program, we feel the gravity and urgency of building youth power to fight the power more than ever before. This year alone we have seen egregious attacks on immigrant workers with HB318, queer and trans youth with HB2, and recently, on HBCUs with SB873. These are not just policies and pieces of legislation, they have real, tangible impacts on the livelihood of young people everywhere.

We also know that young people boldly and bravely resist these attacks on their communities and families and are on the frontlines of our movement. We are called to fortify our commitment to developing youth organizers who take on the most difficult challenge of our time: transforming our society into one free of oppression and abundant with opportunities for everyone to determine and control their futures.

We see our Freedom School program as a key part of this work. Please make a contribution today to get us to our fundraising goal of $2,500. This money goes towards paying our interns, stipending our participants, snacks, meals, and field trips. 

We could not pull off Freedom School without the support over our community — from those who donate to volunteers and adult allies to our friends at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church and Carolina Friends Meeting House. Thank you for your ongoing support over the past 7 years.

2016 YOI Summer Freedom School Adult Ally Support Signup!


This summer the Youth Organizing Institute is hosting its 7th Annual FREEDOM SCHOOL! It will be our second year with both a Raleigh and Durham Freedom School (AND we are also supporting Chapel Hill partners run their own). Over the years, adults have been an essential part of the Schools, and we want to deepen and expand our holding environment of adult allies. This is an opportunity for you, as an adult ally, to continue to build a better culture of support for young activists as leaders in the movement for social justice!

The dates are as follows (locations will be announced shortly):

RALEIGH: June 28-July 8 (Tuesday-Friday, 10am-4pm)
DURHAM: August 8-12 (Tuesday-Friday, 10am-4pm)

We will have an adult ally and parent/guardian orientation on the following dates:

Raleigh: Tuesday, June 21st (tentatively from 6pm-7pm, or a similar evening time)
Durham: Tuesday, July 26th (tentatively from 6pm-7pm, or a similar evening time)

We are so excited for this summer and WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT! As a low-budget operation, we rely on our amazing adult ally network to make things possible. Every day we need adult allies to help the ship sail smoothly! Each School will have about 12-15 youth participants between the ages of 13-18, and a program team of around 5 young and older adults.

Ways you can support:
>> Attend the School for an entire day (or days!) to be an extra set of hands. You can also support for part of the day. (e.g. first to arrive, space set-up, general clean-up, snack prep, running errands, etc.)
>> Help with breakfast Tues-Thurs. (e.g. set-up, clean-up, food donations and deliveries)
>> Help with lunch Tues-Thurs. (e.g. set-up, clean-up, food donations and deliveries)
>> Give youth rides in the morning to the School and/or bring youth home at the end of the day
>> Offer to lead a skill share and/or workshop for the curriculum team to consider
>> Provide supplies and materials
>> Chaperone our field trips and field days

Thank you so much for your continued support of youth organizing in North Carolina. Learn more about YOI’s Summer Freedom Schools at www.empoweryouthnc.org/freedom-school/.

Contact: Anthony Maglione, YOI Event & Volunteer Coordinator, anthony@empoweryouthnc.org




The Youth Organizing Institute is a popular and political education leadership development program committed to DISMANTLING THE SCHOOL-TO-PRISON-PIPELINE, ENDING RACISM & RESEGREGATION, AND MAKE SCHOOLS SAFE FOR LGBTQ YOUTH.

FOR FREEDOM SCHOOL INTERNS (available only to alumni of previous Freedom Schools): Wednesday, MAY 18th

For the past 6 years our Summer Freedom School has been a space for high school students who are passionate about changing the world to convene, share stories, and learn the skills necessary for creating the world we deserve. There will be art, workshops, dancing, talent shows, field trips, and so much more!

Freedom School tracks are 2 weeks long – Tuesdays – Fridays 9am-5pm; Friday programming may run later.

Interested? Fill out this application! SPACE IS LIMITED. If you are accepted into the program, you will be eligible to receive a $100 stipend for completing your Freedom School track. Meals provided and transportation available.

Track 1: Raleigh Freedom School – June 28 – July 8
Track 2: Chapel Hill Freedom School – July 19 – July 29
Track 3: Durham Freedom School – August 2 – August 12
SPECIAL TRACK – Eastern NC inter-generational overnight Weekend Freedom School – August 12 – August 15

More information about who we are: empoweryouthnc.org

Ending the Criminalization of Students in Wake County

Please RVSP here https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1C7_PVtfzUQlifw6tKpfrXaR59DRoIwHU7rERFBhfHCM/viewform
by April 4th

A Community meeting to address increased suspension, over-policing and mass incarceration of black and brown youth in Wake County. If you feel this is a issue in are public schools come out and let your voice be heard !

The Facts:
-62% of students suspended are Black, while 13.5% are Latino.

-More than 11% of Black students will be blocked from a classroom due to increased suspension, expulsion and arrest.

-When school resource officers arrest students, 69% of them are Black and 48% of them are forced into the adult criminal system.

-Less than 1% are given the chance to go through mediation instead of jail.

For any details or information contcat info
Tavonbridges7@gmail.com or (919) 239-0986

Food, childcare and Spanish interpretation will be available.