RAC Teen Justice Fellowship Empowers Teen Organizers

June 6, 2024Shoshana Maniscalco

When Jadyn Turner speaks up, people listen. Jadyn's cousin, Alyssa Alhadeff, was killed six years ago at age 14 in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida. Since then, Jadyn has advocated for Alyssa's Law, which would put silent alarms in schools across the country. Jadyn was a major force in lobbying to pass Alyssa's Law in New York by combining the skills she learned in the RAC Teen Justice Fellowship with her unwavering determination to honor Alyssa by making schools safer.

In the seven years since the RAC Teen Justice Fellowship began, we have seen that teens can create extraordinary change. In the 2023-2024 school year, more than 170 young people from 33 states and provinces were trained as Teen Justice Fellows. These teens see injustice in the world and are united in their dedication to helping repair it.

The RAC Teen Justice Fellowship is a learning intensive in community organizing. It's designed to equip young leaders with skills that will allow them to create change. The fellowship culminates in each teen designing and implementing a project in their home communities.

Fellows from the Fall 2023 cohort are wrapping up their projects. So far, these young leaders have engaged more than 800 of their peers in social justice work. Some of these fellows' projects have included: organizing groups to advocate for bills that would help prevent gun violence in communities across the United States; coordinating panels and educational events in synagogues and schools; and organizing with their peers and meeting with school administrators to change harmful policies.

We are proud to share that many of our alumni are continuing to lead change through activism like advocating to prevent gun violence in schools; championing better mental health services for students on the local, state, and federal levels; and challenging book bans across the country. And they're just getting started!

Mentors like Jadyn have also returned to coach our current fellows and inspire the next generation of organizers. Nearly half of our fellowship coaches are program alumni and, as a group, are supporting over 90 fellows as they start work on their own projects.

Teens who participate in the RAC Teen Justice Fellowship explore their passions, learn how to make an impact, gain leadership skills and experience, and create a project that puts what they've learned into practice while engaging with other teens. For many teens, sharing their experiences as a Teen Justice Fellow becomes an important element of their college applications and resumes.

We are already planning for the next cohort, which will launch in October. If you know a teen who would be a great fit for this program, nominate them today and share this opportunity with your community!

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