Cultural Leadership is a nonprofit educational leadership program that teaches high school students to be change agents, social justice activists, and what we call “troublemakers of the best kind.” Cultural Leadership exists to create a more just and equitable community by educating participants to recognize and resolve issues of privilege and injustice. It teaches students to Stand up, Speak out, and Take action when they see or hear an injustice. Its students develop leadership skills, build relationships, facilitate dialogues, and learn how to create change in their circles of influence.
They learn to dispel stereotypes and promote dialogue, cooperation, understanding, and mutual respect between all peoples. They are the next generation of civil rights and social justice activists. Cultural Leadership students are taught to grab an ally or two or three when they see a problem and roll up their sleeves to get to work. Cultural Leadership is the only program of its kind in the St. Louis region.
Cultural Leadership students participate in a year-long program of:
- monthly educational classes and cultural activities;
- a transformational journey to people and places that have to do with civil rights, social justice and democracy in the U.S., including NYC, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Whitwell, TN, all over Alabama and Mississippi, Little Rock, and Memphis;
- learning leadership, public speaking, and fundraising skills, as well as how to facilitate discussions on issues of racism, diversity, discrimination and education inequity.
Why We Need Cultural Leadership
St. Louis is a community that desperately needs racial healing and greater understanding. Examples of mistrust, disrespect, intolerance, and misunderstanding abound. According to according to many sources and reports, St. Louis is one of the most racially segregated, racially polarized metropolitan areas in the U.S. It is a challenging and complex problem that is firmly entrenched in our region. Cultural Leadership students are given the tools to bring about social change. Our students learn to replace prejudice with facts, ignorance with knowledge, and suspicion with friendship among our students, their families, and the wider community.
Cultural Leadership is open to all sophomores and juniors in the St. Louis region who have demonstrated maturity, curiosity, interest in the community, and leadership potential. Parents/guardians meet regularly (6-8 times throughout the year) while their children are in the program to provide a parallel experience and support their student’s development into each other’s allies. Cultural Leadership is the only program with this parent component.
As with any good program, Cultural Leadership continuously adapts and changes to new needs, new information, and new circumstances. To see what the students of Cultural Leadership are currently up to, visit the Cultural Leadership website.