Civic Engagement & Social Justice Leadership Program

Civic Engagement & Social Justice Leadership Program

While Legal Outreach has always advocated for social justice through educational attainment, the events of the past few years have led us to strengthen our commitment. Sparked by the tragic killing of George Floyd, we held a virtual student forum in June of 2020 to provide a safe space for students to process their emotions and share their thoughts regarding the deaths of African Americans at the hands of the police.  The students exhibited a high degree of anger, frustration and disenchantment with the behavior of the police and the operations of the criminal justice system. Yet, they passionately expressed hope because of the protest marches. Most encouraging to us was their desire to channel their emotions into concrete steps to work towards social justice and racial equality.

Listening to the voices of our students, we have decided to expand our mission to include civic engagement and social justice.  We are modifying our skill-building curricula to explore issues relevant to the times in which we live, and we have expanded our programming by creating the Civic Engagement & Social Justice Leadership Program.


The Civic Engagement & Social Justice Program is a student-led initiative that teaches LO students to be leaders, organizers, and future change-makers!

Here is a list of the goals the students are seeking to achieve in 2020-21:

●      Create campaigns to address two self-selected issues

●      Shed light on the injustices facing minority communities

●      Educate themselves on the skills necessary for grass-root organizing

●      Partner with other nonprofits and organizations to fight for change

●      Make/connect with similar orgs throughout NYC high schools

●      Support social justice initiatives led by LO students

●      Encourage LO students to be leaders in their schools and communities

●      Build the capacity for a long-lasting program within Legal Outreach

At the heart of the program is the Social Justice Leadership Council, which is made up of 25 members and is sub-organized into committees that focus issues selected by the students. The Council meets as a collective, bi-weekly for 2-hour sessions and each committee does the same. While the Council is student-led, it also benefit from the guidance of a Legal Outreach staff member who serves as the Director and provides guidance.

  • Council Initiatives:
  • Pre-Voter Registration for teens: The Council seeks to pre-register their high school peers who are 16 or older:
  • Fines for turnstile infractions: The Council seeks to build awareness concerning the number of police/student encounters that result from turnstile jumping in the subways: In many instances, those encounters are due to the myriad extracurricular after school activities in which NYC students participate that last beyond the time limits of their student metrocards. Many students cannot afford the high price of habitual subway use and sometimes must resort to jumping the turnstile to get home. The Council seeks to bring this issue to the attention of Council members and elected officials who can alter the policy.


Follow @civice_socialj on Instagram for all updates from the Social Justice Council!

Interested in Partnering with the Social Justice Council?

The Civic Engagement & Social Justice Leadership Program is open to partnering with organizations that are interested in making a difference in their communities. Organizations can get involved by sponsoring the program and/or by providing guest speakers and mentors for the Council.

Contact Alaina McGowen, CLICK HERE