STRONG IS WHAT WE MAKE EACH OTHER
Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools is a youth organizing and leadership development organization that uses participatory education and action research to build organizing and leadership skills of New Orleans youth.
Rethink's mission is to support young people in becoming thoughtful and capable leaders through the process of rethinking their experiences in their own school communities and taking action to make systemic improvements.
Our vision is both an equitably great education for all students and a future wherein generations of young leaders equipped with the necessary tools to affect systemic change are committed to lifelong community engagement.
We believe that every movement towards our mission and vision helps dismantle the social, political, and economic barriers that prevent young people from being heard and creates opportunities for youth to learn and practice leadership in ways that make a real difference to them, their schools, and New Orleans.
- • VOICE & AGENCY | expressed through practice of participatory engagement and an emphasis on speaking truth to power.
- • EQUITY | expressed through the practice of power among rather than power over.
- • RELATIONSHIPS | expressed through emphasis on community building, relational activism, non-violent communication, creative conflict resolution and restorative practices.
- • CRITICAL ANALYSIS | expressed through use of popular education models and youth participatory action research to explore the roots and the branches of all issues.
- • AUTHENTIC LEADERSHIP | expressed through commitment to young people as agents of change rather than subjects to change and our understanding that those who are most deeply affected by systems of inequity must be at the forefront of developing solutions.
- • The lives and experiences of young people are important
- • Young people’s ability to deconstruct their experience and create a new narrative is important
- • Young people are experts in their own reality which means that they have the capacity to both learn and teach in ways that are transformative
- • What young people have to say is important
- • Intergenerational solidarity and collaboration is important
Rethink coordinates three flagship programs as vehicles for youth organizing and youth leadership development. All Rethink programs build off of a fundamental Rethink philosophy, culture and curriculum. At the foundation of all Rethink activities is an intentional Rethink culture that is based on the core philosophy of “power among” not “power over.” This is practiced daily through the Rethink Circle. Based on Native American and African meeting protocols and customs, the Rethink Circle invites all members, no matter their age or status, to conduct daily business by sitting face-to-face in a circle of chairs, and offering their thoughts in turn. Through this simple, yet profound process, Rethinkers learn respect, equality and the twin arts of deep listening, and articulate communication.
SUMMER LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE
Five-week arts based intensive that explores the deep connections between art, agency and justice that is geared towards building a collective vision for schools in New Orleans.
Youth aged 10-14 are challenged to think critically about and become engaged in the world they know best: their own school. Rethinkers build leadership skills and critical analysis through exploration of the conditions in their own school during weekly after school meetings.
RETHINK ORGANIZING COLLECTIVE
Youth aged 15-21 deepen their leadership and organizing skills through further exploration of privilege, power, and oppression and its far reaching impact on social, political, and systemic levels. Rethinkers discover new ways to act to make systemic changes.
Model of Development
All Rethink programs and activities are designed to support Rethinkers in guiding them through our integrated model of organizing and leadership development. Embedded in Rethink’s model of youth organizing and development is the commitment to organic community organizing based on the indigenous experiences of the young people in New Orleans and their connections to social and political institutions in their communities.
Rethinkers begin to understand personal & collective struggles in a larger social and political context and imagine the school/community of their dreams.
Rethinkers practice collective visioning with activist Linda Stout. In this video, by Andrew David Watson, Rethinkers explain the visioning process.
Rethinkers coherently express and vocalize the focus of the group campaign and group recommendations.
Rethinkers have been speaking out about food justice since 2008. This video, by Andrew David Watson, shows the Rethinkers holding a news conference about school food and cafeterias.
Rethinkers translate solutions into visuals, skits, games, and other mechanisms for change and develop an action or series of actions to change the situation.
The Rethink Club at Langston Hughes Academy examined the pros and cons of their school uniform policy. They created this video with students from the Placed Based Storytelling course at Tulane to share with their school leaders. After a successful meeting, school leaders agreed to make amendments to the school dress code, such as permitting female students to wear pants.
Rethinkers share the process of advocacy, organizing and leadership to invite other youth to think critically and creatively about systems change in an effort to build a coalition.
At our 2013 summer news conference, Rethinkers led solution circles to teach community members about Restorative Justice. This video, by Jason Foster, goes behind the scenes with Rethinker interviews and footage from the news conference.
Help to Support Rethink
Rethink thrives with the generous support of our communities.
Your time, talent and financial contributions are very important to us.
Your one-time or monthly donations keep Rethink running. We encourage you to give at the following levels:
$10/month (or $120/year)
Supports transportation to and from meetings for one Rethink Organizing Committee member for a semester.
$20/month (or $240/year)
Supports transportation to and from meetings for one Rethink Organizing Committee member for a year.
$50/month (or $600/year)
Supports the cost of one field trip for fifty youth during our Summer Leadership Institute.
$100 or more/month (or $1,200 or more/year)
Supports the stipend for one youth leader in the Rethink Organizing Committee as they teach other youth about undoing oppression and building collective power.
Rethink's Contact Information
1001 South Broad Street, Studio 206 New Orleans, LA 70125
Drop Us a Line
Dear Friends & Allies,
Please read and disseminate the following statement on the events in Ferguson, MO from the Youth Table on Boys and Men of Color:
This Youth Table was convened to inform President Obama's call to action to improve the lives of boys and men of color. We are comprised of national networks and organizations representing tens of thousands of young people of color who are organizing in their communities. Today we stand together in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Ferguson, MO and the family of Michael Brown. We call on local and national officials to ensure justice for Michael Brown, an end to the violent aggression toward peaceful protesters, and new measures to address police violence toward young people of color across the country. We call on local and national philanthropic organizations to support community-centered organizing and capacity building efforts to ensure that youth and families in Ferguson have access to healing services and a long-term organizing infrastructure that will outlive this tragedy. We also request support for organizing efforts of young people across the country to address the systemic factors that perpetuate the criminalization of young people.
For all those who have come together under the banner of My Brothers' Keeper and other initiatives to support young men of color, we say that now is the time to stand up and take action against the violence being enacted against young men of color. We cannot call on men of color to take responsibility if we are silent when they are being killed and beaten by representatives of our own government.
Our country's history is fraught with violence toward young people who look like us. From the children being detained on US borders, to Ferguson, to failing schools, Black and Brown youth are being attacked physically and mentally. The militarization of police forces and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have terrorized our communities. The fact that the federal budget calls for $250 million for police in schools and only $50 million for restorative justice will only continue the criminalization of young people of color.
We stand in support of the demands issued by the Organization for Black Struggle in St. Louis and the national Hands Up Don't Shoot Coalition. Locally this includes a swift and impartial investigation by the Department of Justice into the Michael Brown shooting, the immediate arrest of Officer Darren Wilson, and immediate de-escalation of militarized policing of peaceful protestors. Nationally this includes that Eric Holder to use the full resources and power of the Department of Justice to implement a nationwide investigation of systemic police brutality and harassment in black and brown communities.
Furthermore, to address the broader national occurrence of police violence toward and criminalization of young people of color, we call on elected officials everywhere to enact the following policies:
• The creation of community review boards in all police departments.
• The implementation of cameras mounted on all police officers in departments with a history of racial disparities in stops, arrests, killings, and/or excessive force complaints.
• An end to the use of police in schools for regular school security.
• An increase in funding for restorative justice programs in schools and communities.
• That 1% of what is spent on policing should be redirected to education and youth development.
For funders who care about improving the lives of boys and men of color, we make the following funding recommendations:
• Provide direct support to organizations on the ground in Ferguson, such as the Organization for Black Struggle, that are organizing and providing healing spaces for young people. This includes both immediate funding to deal with the current crisis and long term support to engage youth leaders in ongoing efforts to create transformative change.
• Fund groups organizing young people to address the criminalization of youth of color. There is a vast network of organizations that engage young people of color in organizing to address the root causes of inequity in their communities. These organizations work to simultaneously transform individual young people and their communities. The Funders' Collaborative on Youth Organizing's 2013 National Field Scan identified 27 organizations with active campaigns addressing police accountability, 38 addressing juvenile justice, 20 organizations addressing media justice, 10 organizations addressing militarization, and 58 organizations addressing educational justice and school discipline (FCYO will provide contact information to interested funders).
As young people of color from across the country, we stand united in calling for an end to violence toward youth of color. We are intelligent, we are powerful, and we are ready to organize. We call on all our allies to join us in this struggle for justice.
About the Youth Table
The Youth Table was formed as part of the private sector initiative for boys and men of color, which is working in conjunction with My Brother's Keeper. The Youth Table is facilitated by the Funders' Collaborative on Youth Organizing and the Movement Strategy Center. Its primary purpose is to ensure the voices of young men of color are included in efforts to improve their lives. In order to ensure the engagement of large numbers of young men of color in a short period of time, the Youth Table primarily sought to engage national networks of organizations that are led by and represent young people of color and are already working on issues to improve outcomes for and address inequities facing young men of color. Organizations that have participated are listed below. For more information contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Alliance for Education Justice, National
• Black Organizing for Leadership & Dignity, National
• Black Youth Project 100, National
• Blocks Together and Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, Chicago, IL
• BMe, National
• Brothers, Sons, Selves Alliance of The California Endowment, CA
• Building Health Communities, Statewide Youth Steering Committee of the California Endowment, CA
• California Center for Civic Participation, CA
• Community Justice Network for Youth, National
• Dear Black Men, Detroit, MI
• Dignity in Schools Campaign, National
• FFLIC, New Orleans, LA
• Harriet Tubman Center / YOUTH VOICE, Detroit, MI
• Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools, New Orleans, LA
• NAACP Youth and Student Division, National
• National Council of Young Leaders, National
• National Network for Youth, National
• Native Youth Alliance, National
• Padres y Jovenes Unidos, Denver, CO
• President's Youth Council of The California Endowment, CA
• RYSE Youth Center, Richmond, CA
• South East Asian Resource Action Center, National
• Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP), Albuquerque, NM
• Task Force for Racial Disparities, Chicago, IL
• United We Dream, National
• Urban Underground, Milwaukee, WI
• YouthBuild USA, National
• Youth Power, Detroit, Mi
Transportation for Day of Action:
Bus pick-up schedule
VAYLA New Orleans
13235 Chef Menteur Hwy
New Orleans, LA 70129
Sojourner Truth Community Center
2200 Lafitte Ave
Corner of St. Andrew and Rousseau
Andrew H. Wilson Charter School
3617 General Pershing St
Arrive at Cafe Reconcile at 4:45
Each year, our summer leadership institute culminates with a public event organized by young people to raise awareness and consciousness around the issue they choose to pursue.
This year, our young people have chosen to design an event for other young people to come together and build the foundation of a transformative youth movement in their city.
A Call for Restorative Justice
In the summer of 2013 we took a deep look at school discipline and held a news conference about the role of restorative justice in resolving conflicts peacefully instead of using harsh punishments that push young people out of school. This documentary tells the story of our 2013 news conference in the words of the Rethinkers themselves.
Teach Me How to Love
LHA Bullying Video
The Rethink Club at Langston Hughes Academy studied the problem of bullying and disrespect this semester. We made this video to show that no single person is to blame for bullying, we all play a role in the problem and the solution.
Passing the Torch
In 2012, the Rethinkers hosted their 7th Annual Summer Program, and made recommendations to improve social, emotional, and physical wellness in schools. This year, Rethink nurtured high school students as they "passed the torch" to a new generation of young leaders.