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Emerson to Partner With, Expand Youth Leadership Training Program

Emerson College is partnering with Youth LEAD, a nonprofit that provides youth leadership and community engagement to high school students, to expand the program’s services to youth in Boston.

The program’s mission aligns with the College’s core value to establish meaningful community engagement.

“Emerson’s partnership with Youth LEAD presents an exciting opportunity for the College to more deeply engage with our local youth,” Sylvia Spears, Emerson’s vice president for equity and social justice, said.

Each year, Sharon, Massachusetts-based Youth LEAD currently serves approximately 60 high school students from diverse backgrounds. The teens lead and facilitate conversations, explore issues surrounding identity, and work together to develop and implement community action programs.

Beginning July 1, Youth LEAD administrators and Emerson’s Social Justice Center will collaborate to create a sister program in the Boston area. All Sharon-based programming will continue as the organization expands into Boston.

“This was a big idea for a small town, and now it needs a bigger platform,” said Raj Sharma, chairman of the Youth LEAD board and a member of the Emerson Board of Trustees. “Emerson is that platform. Youth LEAD now has the capacity to flourish in the public schools in Boston and beyond.”

Spears said the skills participants will develop through the program will help them address challenges within their own communities, and will energize them to create change.

“Our plan to launch Youth LEAD in Boston will enable us to focus on young people who are less likely to have access to this kind of innovative and transformative program,” she said.

The Boston pilot program will be developed for launch during the 2018-2019 academic year, and will look to create synergies with existing youth programs in the city, Spears said.

In addition, organizers plan to host the program’s annual TIDE (Teenage Identity and Diversity Education) Conference on the Emerson campus in Spring 2019, with the goal of attracting teens from Boston to learn more.

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