The Importance of Student Voice & Agency

As work-based learning continues to grow in our school communities, the importance of all students having fair access to these opportunities is even more crucial. Even if a school is unable to provide set work-based learning initiatives, there are still opportunities to expand on their essential skills and professional development.

What if students were leading the charge in their schools to disseminate that information to their peers?

HERE to HERE recognizes students as our greatest champions of this work. The HERE to HERE Ambassador Fellowship serves as a platform for students across our network schools to band together to shift how work-based learning looks in their schools and communities.

Student Ambassador Fellowship

HERE to HERE works to strengthen the voice of young people from the Bronx, and New York City. Our goal is to elevate student voice to inform the policies, procedures and decision making that directly impact student lives. HERE to HERE works directly and with other organizations to partner with students to build capacity in their schools and communities to amplify opportunities around braided career pathways and work-based learning. In doing this we are able to create a powerful network of student champions that will elevate the importance of work-based learning, in and outside of the classroom.

The HERE to HERE Student Ambassadors have played an integral role in advancing braided learning and work-based learning opportunities in New York City over the past few years, including:

  • Hosting annual work-based learning student summits: This conference, organized and facilitated by young people–including the HERE to HERE Student Ambassadors–brings awareness to and elevates the power of work-based learning. View footage from our Winter 2020 Work-Based Learning Student Summit. 
  • Conducting research for and partnering on papers shaping braided learning in NYC: In January 2020, HERE to released the One Step Closer report calling for the expansion and enhancement of work-based learning as a means of combating concerning increases in inequity. This report relied heavily on research conducted by student leaders, as well as youth thought leadership, partnership, and collaboration from our colleagues at Teens Take Charge.
  • Creating an asset-based language guide: Informed and created by students, the HERE to HERE Language Guide was developed to better understand the language that surrounds and affects young people in The Bronx and beyond, and was created based on our belief that inclusive spaces in which young people thrive must be driven by students and their needs. Using asset-based language helps to break down barriers while building healthy, meaningful relationships with young people.
  • Advocating for investments in work-based learning for NYC young people: HERE to HERE’s Policy and Impact team, in coordination with our Student Voice work and Teen Take Charge, employed two interns in Spring 2020 and worked with them to build their advocacy skills, which they then activated in the #SaveSYEP campaign to save Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) for thousands of students following New York City’s cancellation of the program in Summer 2020. In addition to leading public protests and producing a robust social media and earned media campaign, students produced “Adapting SYEP Virtual Summit 2020”, a virtual conference held in response to budget cuts tied to SYEP as a result of the pandemic, and publishing The Story of #SaveSYEP.