Jewish Heritage Fund
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Supporting Social Justice Youth Development

In 2021, the Jewish Heritage Fund provided funding to the University of Louisville Center for Social Justice Youth Development Research to implement a professional development program for youth development professionals utilizing the Social Justice Youth Development (SJYD) framework. Through this Framework, professionals are better equipped to engage students in identifying and dealing with serious social problems they are facing by empowering them to be active participants in bringing about positive change. This framework focuses on adopting principles and practices that work to close the gaps created by inequities and access to opportunities for youth. The content for this program is further guided by a Youth Advisory Board comprised of Louisville area youth.

The pilot cohort included 62 total participants. Carol Gunderson, from the Food Literacy Project, said of the program, “The SJYD certificate program invited our team to go deep with racial identity processing and healing, to learn from the history of youth-led social movements, and to study and integrate the principles and practices for accompanying our community’s young people on their path to thriving – acknowledging and celebrating differences in identities, and centering youth voices and experiences.”  The initial success of the certificate program has brought in additional community partner engagement, including Metro United Way offering mini-grants to organizations enrolled who would like to enact a social action project. The Louisville Metro Government – Youth Engagement Services has also secured American Rescue Plan dollars to integrate a SJYD coaching/technical assistance model into the UofL program.