New Voices Are Rising (NVR) is a youth-led environmental and social justice program. NVR aims to build the next generation of community leaders by educating and involving Bay Area youth in the issues that disproportionally impact their communities. NVR hosts two programs: the Summer Academy and the academic year Fellowship. This year’s Summer Academy kicked off on June 16th, featuring weekly environmental justice topics, externships, and in-person events!
Over the course of the Academy we cover the themes of water justice, air quality, housing justice, energy, and food justice. Since 2020, the New Voices Summer Academy has been hosted virtually via Zoom. However, since Covid restrictions were lifted, this year we returned to hosting in-person events and field trips! Every Friday we have gathered to do in-person activities related to that week’s theme. Our Friday trips have included a toxic tour, an Eco Center planting event, a Lake Merritt cleanup day, Point Pinole field trip and the annual Poetry Slam.
The Summer Academy pushes participants to take on leadership positions and get out of their comfort zones. This is demonstrated through the externship component of the Academy, where participants work with an organization of their choosing twice a week as a paid extern. This gives the students an opportunity to consider different career paths and develop skills that can make them more successful in both school and their future workplace. Furthermore, it gives them the chance to both observe and put into practice the kind of work that community environmental activists do. Outside of externship, participants take part in workshops, cleanups, research projects, debates, and meet with activists all around the Bay.
At the end of the Academy, youth give a 10 minute presentation of what they learned at the Community Summit. This is an opportunity for students to pick any topic they like that relates to environmental and social justice and share why it is fascinating or important to them. The format in which this project is shown is up to the student and ranges from art pieces, video games, and videos, to animations and powerpoint slides.
Overall in the program we hope to inspire and motivate students to become more actively involved in the fight for social and environmental justice. Watch the tik tok below and see what the Summer Academy means to our youth!