Developing Young Leaders within the Educational Equity Movement

By Our Turn

Educational equity can’t wait. Students in under-resourced schools know this because they’re experiencing the effects of injustice on a  daily basis. They are seeing more affluent peers within their own district access opportunities they are not afforded. While one neighboring school is freezing in the winter, another has functional heating. A mental health counselor may be on staff in one school and absent in another. Graduation requirements may be wildly different, with some schools requiring a lower grade-point average than what colleges allow for incoming students.

Students who have faced barriers to achievement are sharing these personal experiences through Our Turn and demanding change they’d like to see. Through activating their power in this direct way, they are building leadership, advocacy and organizing skills while advancing the movement for educational equity. No matter when they begin their journey with Our Turn, they will leave equipped as leaders and change-makers. And the leadership model all Our Turn students follow is continuing to evolve. 



Young people have had transformational experiences organizing with Our Turn for more than a decade. Because of systemic racism, socio-economic barriers, their first language or the zip code they live in, many voices have been silenced. Now, we are unapologetic and are speaking up about the issues directly impacting students. 

“Before joining Our Turn, I didn't view myself as an organizer and hesitated to use that label. Now, it's one that I'm proud to embrace. I had no idea I would go from student organizing on my college campus to working at the ACLU and leading our legislative program just five years later.” - Dillon Nettles

By offering organizing and leadership training for students, Our Turn is developing a pipeline of sophisticated organizers with skills to execute issue and electoral campaigns that solve community problems.

Our Turn uses a universal rubric to assess and grow leadership skills, and resources and spaces used in conjunction with campaigns and movements led by those most impacted by educational inequity.

This leadership curriculum is guided by a decade of experience training young people to pilot strategies for expansion and built on a foundational belief that every child deserves access to high quality, culturally responsive schools staffed by diverse, effective educators.  The community organizing curriculum is a dual-impact model grounded in experiential learning. At the core, this model is intended to provide concrete and measurable goals that build soft and hard skills in multiple areas to strengthen emerging leaders. The curriculum consists of training modules designed to equip participants with fundamental grassroots organizing skills such as building a base, one-on-one relational meetings, power-mapping and direct action, while simultaneously developing and strengthening critical soft skills and leadership abilities. Utilizing the “I Do, We Do, You Do” model of teaching, with emphasis on an extended “We Do” that embeds supportive coaching, the leadership curriculum seeks to develop young people into grassroots organizers and leaders capable of owning this work and developing other leaders, while impacting community change. 



We can’t advance this important work alone. Our Turn collaborates with student-focused organizational and funding partners to scale this critical work. Resources are used to reach and engage more young people to continue to play a significant role in demanding effective solutions for change in educational policies and practices across the country. To learn more about investing in this critical work, please contact us.

Our Turn activates students, predominantly students of color from low-income backgrounds, who are proximate to the issues and ready to share unique insight into the education needs within their communities. Join the movement