West Virginia Economic Justice & Appalachian Center for Equality (American Friends Service Committee)
About the Role
The courage and leadership of young people is springing up around the state and as a network of allied organizations we seek to water and connect these young roots. Recent engagement includes student leaders organizing rallies and teach-ins supporting teachers and school service personnel, meeting with state legislators about mental health access and juvenile justice reform, speaking to the media, developing state policy proposals, and initiating mindfulness practices in their schools. The Young WV Policy Institute will be an opportunity for young people and their adult advisors to help plan the conference, lead workshops and share strategies for success, and for all participants to help grow the Young WV movement in West Virginia so that students are at the forefront of real victories for marginalized people in West Virginia. The Go South fellow will be working with WVEJ, ACE, and WVCBP to put on the 3rd annual Summer Policy Institute. The fellow would work to make sure that the experience for youth participants is as memorable, enriching and special as possible by providing both vital planning support leading up to the event and on-the-ground support during the event. The Go South Fellow will be working to help us achieve the following goals: ● For participants to think critically and see themselves as integral parts of their community as well as the political process ● To create an interactive, non-judgemental, and focused space where participants lend their innate energy, talent and wisdom towards the creation of concrete goals and strategies for student-led campaigns ● To host student-led workshops on topics like mental health, racial justice, social movement education, criminal justice reform policy, how to run for office/ Candidate training workshop, media and public speaking training, etc. ● For participants to feel energized and ready to take action, as evidenced by concrete action steps they have made for themselves and/or their group. ● To build a network of young people who feel a part of a larger whole and stay connected to statewide or community work throughout the year. ● For participants to have plenty of time to build relationships, network with a variety of professional sectors, and have fun! This summertime role contributes to the larger work we are doing in the following ways: ● If at least 100 attendees make a genuine connection with an adult in a career field that they are interested in, young people will want to stay in West Virginia because they see a place and role for themselves here. ● If young people are equipped, connected, and emboldened to take risks and change the future of our state and our country – in part through the experience of organizing their own conference -- then we will be on a better path to achieving a more just, equitable future for our state. ● If we can use this event to increase the voter turnout amongst young people because they are more engaged and committed to civic action, we will have a more diverse pool of candidates running for office who will be better equipped to navigate West Virginia into a more just, prosperous future. ● If young changemakers from across the state can connect and learn from each other, realizing the problems and power that they have in common, they will be less likely to remain isolated in insular communities, and more likely to build powerful campaigns together. The Go South fellow will report primarily to Elizabeth Brunello with the Appalachian Center for Equality program, but will also be guided and supervised by Lida Shepherd with the WV Economic Justice project and Kelly Allen at the WV Center on Budget and Policy.
How We're Advancing Equity:
WVEJ and ACE advance equity and justice in West Virginia in many ways: WVEJ advocates for policies focused on economic justice, criminal justice reform, protecting and bolstering safety-net programs like TANF, SNAP and Medicaid, and promoting racial equity through anti-bias trainings and public awareness campaigns. In the last legislative session alone, WVEJ was key in getting bills passed that will help non-violent ex-offendors get jobs, drivers licenses and avoid recidivism. ACE is dedicated to creating opportunities for young people to pursue their goals and a productive future by working and learning together. We apply the core belief that every individual has intrinsic value, worth and power. We work to nurture and strengthen our relationships with local community members and institutions where our students live, learn and work, and we are committed to supporting youth-led organizing efforts for economic and racial justice both locally and statewide. We believe that in order for youth to disrupt the cyclical disenfranchisement and social and economic injustices that keep them in poverty, they must have their basic needs met, must be supported by caring adults in a trauma-informed environment, and must have access to key opportunities for learning and growth so that they can deeply understand the systems of racial and economic oppression that keep people poor and stand between them and their own liberation. We’ve had much success over the past year in training young people how to undo institutional racism and stand up against education privatization at the state legislature.
Key Skills & Qualifications (if any)
● An open-mind, flexibility, and creativity ● An interest in youth leadership development (actual experience not strictly necessary) ● An interest / willingness to do event planning ● Interest in public policy