Why parent and student leaders matter

by Jeff Camp | March 27, 2022 | 0 Comments
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Leading with knowledge

California’s school communities rely on the active involvement of informed volunteers in leadership roles, from PTAs to school site councils to school boards. The education system is deeply complex, but it is unfortunately rare for these critical volunteers to receive training about it. Ed100.org was created to help bridge this gap. It equips districts, PTAs, and other nonprofits to develop prepared community leaders. Alternatively, it equips parents to learn on their own about how to navigate California’s education system and develop the confidence to step up as leaders.

Free early application deadline: April 14

The self-paced online lessons that we created for PTAs and parent leaders have also proved very helpful to motivated student leaders, and hundreds have become Ed100 graduates. Access to the internet, paired with open meeting laws, have removed many of the practical barriers that once prevented students from participating vigorously and effectively in civic life and civic leadership. It is now possible for motivated students to become as well-informed about issues as any school board member or legislator.

Student organizations like GENup and CASC have flourished under these conditions, which enable them to recruit, connect, learn, plan and communicate at levels that were previously impractical or impossible. Nonprofit organizations, social movements and news organizations are only beginning to realize the value that informed and motivated student leaders can bring to their work.

To support these trends in a way that can open up new opportunities for both students and nonprofit organizations, we created the Ed100 Academy for Student Leaders in the summer of 2020. In 2021, the three-day conference program was packed with more than 30 speakers. About 500 students participated, learning about life-changing opportunities in 11 partner organizations. This five-minute video summarizes the experience:

June 20-22

This summer, the summer conference will be held online June 20-22. The first free early application deadline is April 14. Students who apply by this date and are accepted will be connected with a peer from our team of Outreach Ambassadors, who can help them get the most out of the experience

We envision a world where every rising student leader knows about this door-opening conference. We are looking for help to get the word out as far and wide as we can, especially to high school faculty members and principals. Why? Because, in practice, many students need a nudge. It makes a world of difference for an adult to tell you, "Hey, you should apply for this. Use my name on your application." Our modest dream is to identify at least one adult ally for each high school, who will nominate students to apply and care about what happens next.

We know that students with leadership potential are interested in many issues and directions. Some might be generally interested in politics, or government, or business, or community policing, or social services, or (we hope) education. Some will care passionately about an issue — like equity, or inclusiveness, or ethnic studies, or saving the planet. This conference won’t tell them what to care about. But it will expose them to ideas to think about and opportunities to take a next step, if they want to.

Action requests

  • If you are connected in any way to a high school, please check our list to ensure your school will be represented by students at this summer’s conference.
  • If you are a faculty member or PTA leader who works with student leaders, please sign up as an ally, and — if you can — nudge individual student leaders to apply.
  • If you are part of an organization that offers no-cost or sponsored leadership opportunities for California high school students, contact us about becoming a Student Engagement Partner.
  • If you are connected to a California college that prepares future teachers, we would like to help you incorporate Ed100 into your curriculum. Please contact jeffcamp@ed100.org.

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