Students organize #RealTalk Forum on April 13
to influence future direction of Providence Schools
Members of the PYC meeting with Providence Mayor, Jorge Elorza.
Young Voices and the Providence Student Union, in partnership with four of Providence's strongest youth organizations, launched the Providence Youth Caucus (PYC) last year.  This coalition includes New Urban  Arts, H2O, RUIDL, and Youth In Action, uniting students from across Providence to work with city and state leaders to improve RI's biggest school district.  In just a year, the youth have met with Governor Raimondo, Mayor Elorza, Interim Superintendent Maher, and several state Senators and Representatives to push for more personalized learning and improved discipline practices.   The PYC also created the
#RealTalk videos series.  This series of student video interviews, which has already been watched over 6,400 times online, aims to shift the citywide conversation about school climate and classroom engagement.   Their important work has been supported by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.  

And on Wednesday, April 13th, from 4-5:30 at the Providence Career and Technical Academy, the youth will lead a major citywide event, bringing together students, parents, and community leaders to create a list of priorities for improving Providence schools.  By June, our next Superintendent will be confirmed, and the PYC will be able to present these priorities, influencing the future direction of the school district.  We hope you will be able to join us at this exciting event!

Youth transform their school
YV youth member, Clara, presenting on behalf of her peers.
For more than 4 years,  Young Voices  has supported students at the Juanita Sanchez Education Complex (JSEC) to have a significant role in improving their school.  Every year, our youth survey a majority of students, asking them how to improve the school, and then use this data to inform the issues they take on.  
Youth have been meeting monthly with the principal for years, successfully advocating for new grading policies, a revised class schedule, and more student centered, hands-on learning practices.  For the past two years, based on the input from their peers, they have focused on pushing for the use of restorative practices to improve the way discipline is handled.  Their advocacy has paid off, and this year, the principal is working with the students and faculty to implement restorative practices school-wide. 

Principal Michaela Keegan says:   "I was skeptical of transitioning to the use of restorative practices, because I didn't know much about it.  However, the students gently persisted and always supported their wish to use restorative practices with evidence, data and student voice.  They helped me be more confident in exploring this unknown but obviously needed approach to building community."

We hope that our work at JSEC can be used as a model throughout Providence schools and the rest of the state for transforming the culture of a school!

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