The Kids Are Alright – Vol. 5

Jessica Sutter, Chief of Civic Learning Initiatives

November 27, 2023

Young entrepreneurs from Dent Education showcasing their products in Baltimore last winter. (Photo courtesy of Dent Education)

Excerpt crossposted from The Kids Are Alright, an occasional Friday afternoon email newsletter written by Jessica Sutter featuring three stories of youth voice, youth leadership, and adult allies supporting youth efforts to change their communities — and our country — for the better.

Using History to Inspire

Around this time last year, I learned about a very cool organization called the History Co:Lab. It’s a non-profit org “dedicated to empowering a generation of young people to take on the challenges + opportunities of today and tomorrow with history as their foundation, guide and inspiration.” But just this past week, I learned about their podcast series, which is both youth led and youth produced. It’s got a great name, Untextbooked, and it features college student interviewers in conversations with historians about their recent books. They’re in their 4th season of production and they’ve got an incredible series of topic areas they’ve covered, from redlining to women in journalismPTSD and protests. Give one of these a listen — and don’t just take my word for it; Unbooked has won awards as both a Spotify Next Wave Award Winner and an Apple New and Noteworthy Podcast from 2021.

Creating Art to Tell Their Stories

A friend from college recently posted on social media that his son was premiering his first feature film this month. The film, Friend, is premiering this weekend and tackles the all too real reality of youth mental health struggles and challenges teens face with interpersonal relationships and their search to find purpose. Charlie, his son, wrote, directed and filmed the movie in partnership with classmates, teachers & administrators from his high school. As it turns out, Charlie also runs a film production company, P51 Pictures, through which he’s been creating outlets for visual storytelling with his peers. Do yourself a favor & watch the film trailer here.

Youth Making a Dent In Their Own Futures

“We believe everyone can make a dent.” That statement defines the work of a Baltimore non-profit, Dent Education. Dent runs a series of youth programs for high school students, called Denters: a paid summer internship focused on design-thinking and entrepreneurship, an incubator program to advance youth social venture proposals, and an externship where student Fellows “use their creativity and equity-centered design thinking skills to help local organizations solve real challenges with innovative approaches.” During the height of the pandemic, Denters worked to address the PPE shortage in Baltimore by making face shields, earning a share of the profit from their sale and learning about the business concept of social enterprise. Denters co-own a social enterprise called Made@Dent, where young entrepreneurs sell their creations & take custom orders for organizations. These young people are literally building — art, creations, business & social ventures — all with their eyes toward the future.

 “The world is pretty messed up. It needs more love, unity, and empowerment. We need to start by showing young kids, especially from underserved communities, that they can do anything they put their minds to no matter their circumstances.”

– Aissata Sy, a Denter

View the full newsletter post here.

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