As a part of our 2020 Juneteenth Commitment, CT3 announced a C.A.R.E.S. Impact Grant for organizations that are located in the Jackson, Mississippi area and engage Jackson Public Schools students. The purpose of the awards is to support non-profit organizations that elevate and celebrate the student voices in JPS. Grants were awarded to organizations with the strongest vision and purpose for supporting the students in JPS.
Initiated through the efforts of Dr. Linda West with a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Mississippi Families for Kids was incorporated in January 1998 as a statewide comprehensive social service agency. The mission for Mississippi Families for Kids is to ensure that every child in the child welfare system in Mississippi has adequate health, mental health, and educational opportunities for safety and well-being.
The Mississippi Families for Kids 12th annual Youth Leadership Camp is a week-long day camp (from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm) that is held for middle and high school students in Jackson. Bringing together a selection of youth from traditional families, adopted families, and foster care, the purpose of the camp is to equip participants with the skills, resources, critical thinking tools, and information they need to finish high school and enter higher education. The camp acts as a motivational guide to enhance the core traits necessary to be leaders among their peers and in the community. During the week, young people engage in activities that teach self-esteem, teamwork, integrity, determination, decision-making, and courage. The project is designed to provide intense leadership training for Jackson youth who might otherwise, not have access.
In 2008 a group of educators, parents and activists from around the United States came together to brainstorm how to catalyze educational change grounded in a commitment to public education, democratic values, and human rights. The need to advocate for student voice and student-centered learning with work for social and racial justice was a core belief of this initial organizing community. In 2010, The Institute for Democratic Education in America was born and while headquartered in Jackson, Mississippi collaborates with students, educators, families, and the community to advocate and build capacity for education equity and racial justice across the US in Puerto Rico.
The Jackson Youth Elevators of Tomorrow (named by the students leading the project) is a project led by IDEA in partnership with Jackson Public Schools. In this program, a group of up to 32 JPS high school students is selected to work on community-based projects using Youth Participatory Action Research methods. Student leaders have worked to identify the next cohort of students, identify projects to research in Jackson, and will complete action research projects on issues of their choice, showcasing their work to the public in Summer 2023. This grant, funded by CT3 Cares will continue to support this program and many of the dollars will be used to pay student advocates for their time as action researchers in the Jackson community.