YOI Freedom School Recap

Freedom School Youth in front of the statue of the A&T 4 on North Carolina A&T State University. We are joined by our friends from Beloved Community Center on our grassroots people's history tour of Greensboro

Freedom School Youth in front of the statue of the A&T 4 on North Carolina A&T State University. We are joined by our friends from Beloved Community Center on our grassroots people’s history tour of Greensboro

We want to say thank you, thank you, thank you to our community partners, friends, allies, parents and most of all: our young people who were a part of this Summer Freedom School. This is the 5th year we held our program and this year it was in commemoration of the 50th year anniversary of Freedom Summer.


YOI Freedom School Counselors

ajamuThe program was held in Raleigh, NC at Pullen Memorial Baptist church where we had community friends, adult allies and many many volunteers join us to lead workshops, provide lunches and logistical support and connect with students, giving them insight into the huge world of organizing.  Continue reading

“Youth to host Freedom School to commemorate anniversary”



If you get a chance today, grab a copy of The Triangle Tribune! We are front page! Here is an excerpt from the article quoting our YOI folks, Monse and Sanyu, who talk about the importance of Freedom Summer and why our summer program, in its 5th year, is a Freedom School!

“I had the opportunity to travel to Mississippi this past week, and it was the most emotional experience of my organizing life,” said Monserrat Alvarez who was part of the YOI’s first summer program graduating class and is now on staff. “When we talk about the history of Freedom Summer in Mississippi, we often jump to voter registration work and (the) Civil Rights Act. I cannot deny how important this work was for the nation, but 1964 Freedom Summer had other projects – Freedom Schools. These schools were operated within the community by SNCC students and community folks who risked their homes and lives to make sure their young people had an education. We often forget how underfunded schools were, and continue to be, and just how impactful Freedom Schools were in educating black students.”

Sanyu Gichie, who helped head up the local moratorium for the Summer Freedom School’s campaign, said they wanted to uplift the Freedom School legacy.

“A big pillar of this program is looking back on people’s history, but we want to emphasize to our students that each person has power,” she said. “History books often focus on the leaders of a movement, while giving little or no attention to the communities that devoted their time and made sacrifices for change. Young people have been at the fore of winning gains for gender, race, class, immigrant, ability and voting rights.  Freedom School allows youth to tap into their unknown reserves of strength and power which are vital to creating the systemic change needed for our communities.”

Our program officially starts TOMORROW! We are stoked to have the opportunity to learn, work and build with young people who are envisioning a better world.

Freedom School is a community-driven, community-supported project that is free of charge to all participants but costs us around $2000 per young person. If you would like to make a donation to help sustain this program through the years, you can do so here. Your donation is tax-deductible. 

Can’t donate right now? Consider signing up for AmazonSmile and choosing Action for Community in Raleigh (EIN#: 20-292-1055) as your organization and every time you shop, Amazon will donate .5% of the price of your purchase to us! 

School Board May 20

On May 20 NC HEAT and the Youth Organizing Institute mobilized to the Wake County School Board meeting to once again raise concerns during public comment. While the theme of the school board meeting was commemorating the 60th anniversary of Brown V. Board of Education, the struggle for equitable public schools remains today. Youth and Adult ally speakers spoke about the upcoming renewal contract for the memorandum of understanding between Wake County law enforcement and WCPSS. While youth speakers talked about experiences of seeing their peers be arrested at school, others spoke to the lack of data that tracks police force and arrests in schools. Lastly the school board and everyone in attendance was invited to an upcoming community forum on May 31 that will build consensus about what role police have in schools and develop a community MOU to present at the next school board meeting.


Celebrating the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Broad of Education

brn v. brd rally
May 17, 2014 marked the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Broad of Education.  There were rallies, marches and workshops organized across the country to not only celebrate this victory, but to highlight the ongoing struggle to provide each student with the equal opportunity to a quality education.  A YOI member, Sanyu, was fortunate enough to be among the crowd of students, teachers, parents and family members of the original plaintiffs in the Landmark case. They gathered on May 13th on the steps of the National Supreme Court to hear from people of all corners of the US including New Orleans, North Carolina, Chicago and the DC area.

This rally kicked off the week of action and set the tone for the rest of the week. The speakers highlighted the racial disparities that still exist in our community such as underfunding black and Latino schools and leaving them with very limited resources.  A few students from Chicago brought a chart that compared the resources at their predominantly black high school to that of a predominantly white school in their area.  Compared to the predominantly white schools, the black schools lacked a myriad of resources ranging from lack of Honors/AP classes and to lack of a functioning gym. In fact, their gym classes are taught online.

brn v. brd  workshopAfter the rally, we marched to the Department of Justice to deliver a report released by the Journey for Justice Alliance called Death by a Thousand Cuts: Racism, School Closures and Public School Sabotage, Voices from America’s Affected Communities of Color. The report illustrates the racial disparities that this exist school systems across the country.  Later that week, Sousa Middle School hosted a series of workshops about the School to Prison Pipeline, bilingual education and school closure.  Sousa was also one of the schools involved in the Brown v. Brown of Education case.  The Week of Action for the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Broad of education reminded everyone that although our nation has come a long way, the fight for equal opportunity to a quality education rages on.

Brn v. brd wall M.

First Moral Monday

moral 5May 19 was the first “Moral Monday” of 2014. While NC has continued to pass regressive policies it has not demoralized the movement, rather it has made us stronger. NC HEAT members went on stage to join two youth speakers as they demanded the NCGA listen to the youth and the issues affecting their communities including the school-to-prison-pipeline. Once the rally ended the crowd of several thousand all put tape on their mouths and entered the general assembly in response to the new building codes adopted behind closed doors. This Monday marked the beginning of what will be weekly demonstrations at the general assembly while they are in session. 

School Board Mobilization

school boardOn Tuesday, April 22nd, NC HEAT students mobilized to the Wake County School Board meeting to reiterate their demand for community inclusion in the process of revising the memorandum of understanding between the school system and Wake County police departments. Youth spoke in support of passing the budget proposal that would increase pay for school system employees and include a line-item for a restorative justice pilot program. NC HEAT will be meeting with the school board Chair next Monday, to communicate their concerns and have a dialogue about how students and their communities can have a meaningful and leadership role in the development of a new MOU. We will keep raising our hands and our voices until we win schools that are safe and supportive of all students!

Community Engagement & Story Collecting Training

spring trainingApril showers did not stop the Youth Organizing Institute as we held our Spring Training day April 18-19. Over 15 youth from the Triangle to Warren County spent the weekend in Raleigh at the AFL-CIO office for workshops, story sharing,  and community building.


The first half of the weekend focused on the power of storytelling, while the second half addressed the importance of building strong ties to different communities through canvassing. Youth created audio recordings of each other’s stories and made plans about how to share those stories with their communities in creative and powerful ways. After sharing our personal histories with each other, we talked about the stories we can tell with data and the power of canvassing as a tool for connecting communities to the issues that impact them.
20140419_143512We knocked on doors Saturday afternoon, gathering data on people’s experiences in schools and having conversations about how we can improve our schools. The spring training prepared youth to take action against the school-to-prison pipeline and share their experiences through creative and emotionally compelling as well as research-based methods.


YOI in Detriot

The Youth Organizing Institute is now a member of the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance. Monserrat Alvarez traveled to Detroit, MI as a representative of YOI and met with over 100 organizers throughout the nation. The location of the assembly was chosen by GGJ as a means to further discuss the framework of “No War, No Warming”. Detroit has been facing environmental and economic issues that by no surprise are mostly affecting communities of color. Innovative community organizing and new economy projects have emerged in Detroit are inspiring. They have been rooted in indigenous and communities of color’s struggle to reclaim their land and history. Along with YOI, the NC contingent also included member of Black Workers for Justice. At the national meeting we had valuable discussion around environmental, economic, and gender justice in the rural South.