Insights to Impact

The Latest from Brooklyn Community Foundation


Youth Activists Conference Creates Space for Resistance and Empowerment

Our Brooklyn Youth Activists organized their 3rd annual conference on Saturday, April 20th at the YWCA Brooklyn, with this year’s theme “Y.O.U.: Youth Open Up.”

The Youth Activists’ co-leaders Alexander Davis and Peace Titilawo joined fellow members of the Foundation’s unique youth leadership and youth-led grantmaking program in welcoming more than 40 participants to the event. The Youth Activists designed and facilitated nine workshops, created a healing and wellness space, and wrapped up the night with an open mic and dance party.

The conference brought young people from across Brooklyn together to talk about their communities, political change, LGBTQ+ and reproductive justice, breaking down the prison industrial complex, gentrification and creating locally owned businesses. Alexander explained that a lot of the workshops centered on the Youth Activists’ 7 Justice Pillars, through which the cohort thinks about new ways of creating resistance and empowerment. The conference also gave the Youth Activists full responsibility for all planning decisions:

“We had a lot of young people that created these workshops that were really important to them. We got t-shirts that Angel, one of our fellows, made for us. She was also a part of our logistics team as well, which is how our young people could see the budget and understand where the money went… like how much materials cost and where we get those materials for the workshops, entertainment, and food. This is what we talk about when get young people together, they just take over. They create what they want out of it and I think that’s beautiful.”

Alexander offered some additional highlights from the event: “Usually we would lead a big group, but because there were so many people, we broke up into smaller groups. The conference was beautiful for all the young people who put so much work into it and they got to see it flourish. It was good to see dreams come true but also to see visions that they’ve been thinking about for months now come true.”

Peace noted, “so many powerful conversations were had and so many solutions were created to the many injustices we see and face every day as young people. I was extremely proud to see all the fellow’s strengths come out to create such a powerful movement at the conference. As a result, all the attendees were excited to keep the conversations going even after the conference ended which was our ultimate goal. Once Youth Open Up, nothing can match the power, enthusiasm and courage of the young people to create change in their communities and in the world!”

After a successful conference, what’s next for the Brooklyn Youth Activists? Applications are due Friday, May 3, 2019 for their Youth Voice Awards, which supports youth-centered and youth-led projects in neighborhoods, communities, and schools. Learn more

Jeanne Landers

Communications Intern