Register today for our April EDTalks with four amazing young leaders: Walter Cortina, Kyra Hughes-Bester, Jamya Cusic and Octivious Doe.

Four Youth Voices on Adult + Student Partnerships for Equitable Education

Tuesday, April 26, 2022
7pm – 8pm

Free, virtual event! Register below.

Join us to hear four young leaders share their personal experiences of our adult-centered education systems

How Young People Can Co-Lead the Education Transformation We Need

By the time Bridgemakers co-founder and president Walter Cortina reached the age of 13, he had experienced poverty, trauma, homelessness, the murder of his best friend, and the deportation of both of his parents. In his EDTalks, Walter will draw on his personal and professional experience to speak to how schools, community leaders and policy-makers must engage with the experiences and leadership of young people when reimagining schools and systems, particularly youth who have faced trauma in their young lives. Walter will also discuss the transformative power of developmental, mentoring relationships, and the importance of centering BIPOC young people in these discussions and giving them a head seat at the table.

Presenter: Walter Cortina (him/his) became homeless at the age of 13 after his parents were deported to Mexico. While working hard to support himself and his family, he realized the power of his voice and his story to drive change in his community. Walter is a graduate of Venture Academy and has demonstrated his leadership skills at the 2019 Student Conference, the Bush Foundation’s 2020 Learning for Equity event, and the 2020 Teacher-Powered Schools National Conference. His internship at Minneapolis Foundation helped him launch Bridgemakers: Youth Leading Change, and its MN Young Champions (MYC) project in partnership with Youthprise. He currently serves as the co-founder and president of Bridgemakers, which is a holistic, civic, social and financial capacity- building platform which amplifies the stories and mentors the leadership of Black, brown and other marginalized youth.

Kids Changing Education Systems vs. Education Systems Changing Kids

As a young person, if you were handed the mic, what would you say to the adults in your life? In their EDTalks, young leaders Kyra Hughes-Bester, Jamya Cusic and Octivious Doe of the St. Paul Youth Services’ YouthPowerMN Leadership Institute will join us to describe their lived experiences with adults in educational institutions and how those experiences have impacted their wellbeing, safety, and ability to achieve their goals as Black youth. They will also address the barriers to youth providing input in designing education systems and offer tools and insights for adults who are committed to including young people in the creation of youth-centric, equitable education.

Presenters: Kyra Hughes-Bester, Jamya Cusic and Octivious Doe are participants in the St. Paul Youth Services’ YouthPowerMN Leadership Institute, an organizing hub where Black youth are compensated for their intellectual capital, lived experiences and contributions to improve our communities. Youth gather here to reflect, express themselves, build skills, organize and advocate for serious change on issues that affect their lives.

Kyra Hughes-Bester is a 12th grade student living in Milwaukee. She has been a YouthPowerMN leader for four years, with interests in education equity, learning styles, and digital media. She hopes to become an entrepreneur and a business woman.

Jamya Cusic is an 11th grade student living in St Paul. She has been a YouthPowerMN leader for three years, and is interested in housing equity, criminal justice, wealth equity, and learning styles. She hopes to become a pediatrician.

Octivious Doe is a 12th grade student living in St Paul, where he emigrated from Liberia. He has been a YouthPowerMN leader for three years, and is interested in criminal justice, critical race theory, and youth as decision makers. He hopes to be an entrepreneur. 

EDTalks is presented by AchieveMpls in partnership with the Citizens League. 

Many thanks to our generous sponsor!

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