The current political climate has motivated more young people to take action. Many youth are recognizing the power that young advocates have, as demonstrated by the youth movement that sprung out of the tragic Parkland shooting, as well as many other youth-led efforts across the country.
The NYCLU has prioritized youth activism for more than 20 years. We work with youth organizers across New York State to ensure that young people know their rights, know how to access those rights and learn how to effectively organize around civil rights and civil liberties in their schools and communities. To meet the needs of New York youth and to build on our past success, the NYCLU has expanded our work in youth activism through a variety of ways by adding new programs, campaigns, and initiatives.
We are eager to organize alongside youth activists, educators and parents alike to effect change in New York.
TAP is an exciting leadership development program that engages New York City high school students as organizers and activists on civil rights and civil liberties.
The NYCLU's youth program began as the Teen Health Initiative in 1997, founded with the mission of removing barriers that prevent young people from accessing critical health services and information. Now, over 20 years later, TAP carries on the mission of the Teen Health Initiative and is a part of the NYCLU’s new Education Policy Center. TAP students work on broader NYCLU advocacy issues, including ending the school to prison pipeline, protecting student privacy and creating safe and supporting schools for all students.
TAP is the NYCLU’s marquee youth organizing program, reaching nearly 200 young people in New York City. TAP members learn about civil liberties and legal issues, reproductive justice, community organizing and activism. Students work together as peer educators to make sure the youth of New York know their rights, create campaigns on issues the NYCLU is working on, and organize protests, rallies and marches across the city. TAP is a great opportunity for young people interested in law, health care, social justice and community organizing.
For students, TAP provides a unique opportunity to develop leadership skills as they learn about, and advocate for, civil rights and liberties alongside NYCLU professionals. TAP students simultaneously provide the NYCLU a window into the challenges faced by public school students in New York City as they help shape and promote the NYCLU’s youth agenda. NYCLU’s Teen Activist Project Coordinator develops and implements the program.
We work on advocacy issues, such as:
- Freedom of Speech and Religion
- Racial Justice
- Immigrants' Rights
- Students' Rights
- Ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline
- The Rights of LGBTQ Youth
We work on reproductive rights issues, such as:
- The Rights of Minors to Get Confidential Health Care
- The Rights of Pregnant and Parenting Teens
- Teenagers, Health Care and the Law
Student Ambassadors are directly impacted high school students who speak publicly on NYCLU education issues and work alongside staff to advance the mission of the Center. Our students are a diverse group with passions and personal experiences that touch on the foster care system, metal detectors in schools, specialized high schools and high stakes testing, sex education and teen health, the immigration system, and the college admissions process. The NYCLU continues to identify different ways to elevate their stories in our work including media interviews, blog posts and speeches at events and actions. We are recruiting Ambassadors from all areas of the state.
The NYCLU also works with college students from various regions across the state. Campus organizers are students from a university, college, or trade school that defend and protect civil rights and civil liberties in their community and on their campus. Participants from the NYCLU's Campus Organizing Program attend workshops on community organizing, lobbying, and other social justice issues. Campus organizers deliver Know Your Rights trainings on their campus and are connected to campaigns led by key NYCLU staff. The NYCLU's Campus Organizing Program is a great way for students to develop leadership, public speaking, advocacy, and community organizing skills.