Youth Leadership for Equity


What you can expect from working with us…

As the vast majority of people remain unconscious as to how their racial and cultural identity impacts their approach to life in general, SERC’s Youth Leadership for Equity Initiative is designed to help students develop strong, effective, leadership skills in order to make positive changes in their school and community.  This particular training program will assist youth in learning more about who they are “culturally”, by exploring various aspects of their identities, and working with others to engage in meaningful dialogue. With a better understanding of their own identity, youth can understand how historic injustices impact them and use this knowledge to make positive changes (Wheeler, 2006).


SERC can provide training and technical assistance around Self Awareness and Cultural Identity, with goals under this phase to include:

  • Understand how aspects of their identity impact their capacity, efficacy, and have influence on their educational community.
  • Gain the skills (self-reflection, critical consciousness…etc.) necessary to better analyze themselves and the world around them.
  • Youth learn methods and tools to engage in transformative discourse.


Through an array of strategies such as Peer to Peer Conversations, Facilitated Dialogue, Hands-on Activities, Teambuilding Exercises and Reflective Practice Exercises, some of the following topics will be explored:

Cultural Identity:
Culture is the beliefs, behaviors, objects, and other characteristics common to the members of a particular group or society. Through culture, people and groups define themselves, conform to society's shared values, and contribute to society.
Race is a socially constructed term that refers to the concept of dividing people into populations or groups on the basis of the color of their skin.
Stereotyping, Bias and Prejudice:
Stereotyping is different from discrimination and prejudice. Stereotyping can lead to prejudice and discrimination. Prejudice is different from discrimination. Prejudice is an opinion, value or attitude; discrimination is an action.
Equity vs. Equality:
Equality is everyone receiving the same thing. Equity is when individuals receive what they need, not necessarily the same thing as everyone else.
Diversity is understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along various aspects of identity such as, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies.
Youth leadership supports a student in developing: (a) the ability to analyze his or her own strengths and weaknesses, set things such as personal goals and have the confidence, motivation, and abilities to carry them out and (b) the ability to guide or direct others on a course of action, influence the opinions and behaviors of others, and serve as a role model (Adapeted from Wehmeyer, Agran, & Hughes, 1998).
Multiple Perspectives:
to become comfortable with complex situations that have multiple right answers. This familiarity will help them to welcome others’ viewpoints and opinions and, hopefully, increase empathy.

Special Education Youth Advisory Council
The purpose of the Special Education Youth Advisory Council is to:

  1. Create a structure in which students with disabilities (middle and high school) can share their special education experiences and increase their capacity to make informed decisions regarding their educational programming;
  2. Increase public awareness of the valuable role that student voice and increased student independence can play in the lives of students, families, and communities; and
  3. Inform the Special Education Bureau Chief on issues that are important to special education students.


This Special Education Youth Advisory Council is designed to reach students who may not typically have an opportunity to share their voice.  Students who are part of the council participate in focus groups and trainings that focus on leadership skills, team building, diversity and equity.  Youth Council members also receive training around self-advocacy skills.
Ongoing Efforts
School Based PEER to PEER Mentoring Programs
Upperclassman high school students have provided insight into the development of a peer-to-peer mentoring program for incoming freshmen.  Juniors and seniors mentored the freshmen and provided insight on their experience transitioning from middle school to high school, what improvements could be made to ease the transition, and what they thought the mentoring program should look like.  We also provided a mentoring training to participating students. 
District Focus Groups & Training
Students, school staff and family members participated in focus groups based on topics that were determined by the district. Students also received training on leadership, team building, diversity and equity.

For more information please contact Nicole Vitale at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..