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Virtual Racial Justice + Abolition Training Program

Application Deadline: Saturday, February 5, 2022 at 11:59 pm ET


Program Description: 

Youth Voices Lead is a digital community training program for youth organizers (ages 15-18) to strengthen their human rights knowledge and artistic tools and discover how to take action for racial justice change.


In collaboration with the Initiative for a Just Society (IJS) at Columbia University, this specific cohort will engage around the concept of abolition as it relates to mass incarceration, policing, and racial discrimination in the United States. This program will provide emerging youth leaders with an opportunity to connect the larger concepts of abolition as it relates to issues directly impacting their own communities. 

Participants will: 


  • Learn about artivist principles (the intersection of art and activism) and abolition; 

  • Learn how to create artwork for self-expression and digital content for social change;

  • Meet other incredible youth from across New York City and build a community of young organizers and leaders;

  • Be exposed to artivists working on human rights issues;

  • Experience and learn how to lead activities to raise awareness and action on a racial justice issues and abolition in their community; 

  • Partner with a Columbia student mentor to support them with their final project;

  • Participate in a cumulative project to share their newly-learned community teachings and tools for activism; 

  • Receive a stipend of at least $250 to honor their labor.


Participants will be expected to: 


  • Attend 13, two-hour weekly sessions;

  • Meet with their Columbia student mentor (around 30 minutes per week) to work on their final art project design and proposal; 

  • Complete all program paperwork before the start of the first workshop session; 

  • Complete all evaluation surveys (pre, mid, and post) and three, 15-minute check-ins with an ARTE team member; 

  • Participate fully in all programming and any outside activities.


The training program will start on Wednesday, February 23 and end the final week of May. As of right now, Youth Voices Lead will primarily take place virtually, with the possibility of an in-person mural creation weekend (two full days) pending COVID-19 restrictions. We are currently only seeking applicants who reside in New York City.

Note: This program is supported by Humanity in Action’s Landecker Democracy Fellowship.


Read what participants from the previous two Youth Voices Lead's cohorts have to say about the program:

I really liked how everyone was so involved! I felt like I truly belonged. I also enjoyed the evident support we received along the way. I definitely enjoyed speaking 1-on-1, having meetings go overtime to simply talk with each other and engage in meaningful conversation.

I will absolutely use this experience in the future! The knowledge I've gained and topics I've learned has opened my eyes on issues I would usually overlook because I felt like there could be nothing done. That mindset however, was wrong and it's because of ARTE that I realized this. Everything I do matters.

During my time with Youth Voices Lead, I have learned how to work with others to create art, action, and knowledge. This program helped me foster my own creativity, work with the creative energy of others, and, together, build something that we are all proud of and that others can benefit from. During this process, I was able to make friends and comrades; the people I have met here are peers who I feel that I can depend on in the future and who I would be thrilled to work with in the future.

My favorite part of the program was how I got to interact with people my age that were as passionate and willing to learn as I am. I loved how the information I received in our weekly meetings always gave me a deeper perspective on how racial inequalities are always prevalent in our day to day lives. From this experience, I have learned and gained so many skills such as organization and teamwork that are applicable for my future advocacy activities.

We are currently prioritizing youth in New York, but stay in touch here if you are interested in joining future Youth Voices Lead cohorts!