The protests against police brutality and systemic racism have amplified the need for complex conversations about racial inequity in public systems. To help, the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Equity Conversation Guides for Young Leaders and Partners provide step-by-step instructions for facilitators to lead groups of young people in understanding the history of structural racism and how it operates today.
“In this moment, we must use our individual and collective power and responsibility to dismantle these structures so that all young people can truly thrive,” says Leslie Gross, director of the Foundation’s Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative®.
“When young people are given the space to learn, engage and connect with others who have a shared sense of purpose and community, change happens,” Gross continues. “It is clear that these difficult conversations must still be had, and actions must still be taken. This movement is being led by young people. And I hope that these guides will inspire more of them to become the leaders driving real change within their communities.”
The Equity Conversation Guides — developed in partnership with Jim Casey Young Fellows, NOXTIN, the W. Haywood Burns Institute and Foster Youth in Action — provide tips on how to create spaces that foster conversation and engagement that fuel action around advancing racial and ethnic equity. The four guides include:
- Understanding the Basics: Core Concepts and Terms
This document introduces foundational knowledge about the relevant concepts for advancing equity and inclusion. Learning these key concepts in peer groups facilitates deeper discussion, introspection and critical thinking, allowing leaders to apply their understanding of equity from personal experience to their work toward systemic change.
- Digging Deep: Historical Context of Child Welfare Systems
While the history of racism in the United States began with the arrival of colonizers and the exploitation of Indigenous populations, this document takes a look at how racism has operated in the child welfare and youth justice systems from the 1600s through today. To engage in leadership and advocacy in meaningful ways, it is critical to understand the context of child welfare systems and how various policies and practices can affect children and families differently.
- Discovering Self: Identity and Culture
Rooting action and leadership in advancing racial and ethnic equity is deeply personal work that requires trusting relationships and safe space to process new information and reflect on our own personal journeys. Conversations about identity with young people who have experienced foster care are often very nuanced. Many young people are grounded in culture and community, while others may feel disconnected from their roots and their story. This guide is designed to enable facilitators to explore these complex themes in a strengths-based environment with young leaders and advocates who have experienced foster care.
- Sharing Power: History and Contributions of Organizing in the Continuum of Youth Engagement
Understanding the historical context of youth leadership and advocacy allows young people to fully appreciate the influence they can have, and the political dynamics involved in advocacy. This conversation guide provides an opportunity to learn about the central role that young people have played in systems change through an equity and inclusion lens.
After introducing the core concepts, facilitators are invited to work through the guides in a way that makes sense for the group.
Explore the Equity Conversation Guides