Youth United for Change (YUC) believes that young people who know how to advocate for themselves have the power to change their own situations and influence history. “Since our work centers Black liberation as fundamental to any struggle for societal reconfiguration, human development and power are always components of our campaigns to improve education in the city of Philadelphia,” says Rapheal Randall, executive director of YUC, a Racial & Economic Justice Fund grantee.
YUC was founded in 1991 in response to the School Board of Philadelphia’s unwillingness to include students in school district policy decisions. YUC now organizes young people in schools and communities to identify common concerns and act collectively to create strategies for reform that meet the needs of youth of color and working-class communities. Concerned about lead-contaminated water, YUC and its allies won a commitment this year from the School District of Philadelphia to conduct a full inventory of water fountains to ensure that there is clean and safe drinking water throughout the public schools.
To win the reforms it wants, Randall says, “YUC will have to train young people and their families to take on more decision-making power and responsibility, and provide spaces where these folks can be protagonistic — guiding and bolstering their desire to create new approaches and spaces based on their organic understanding of what needs to happen.”