Next Generation/Atlanta Youth Initiative
The Next Generation Youth Leadership Network in Atlanta, Georgia, is a member of the Next Generation Youth Leadership Network organized by Bread Loaf Teacher Network of Middlebury College Bread Loaf School of English (BLTN NextGen).
Around the country, this youth-centered network organizes by teams of youth and their mentors. Current sites in the network include: Vermont, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Kentucky, Georgia, the Navajo Nation, and the pueblos of New Mexico, with the expectation that additional sites will continue to join.
The teams gather locally and nationally, digitally, and in person to:
- Discuss the concerns, challenges, and opportunities that they see around them.
- Design and develop strategic plans for individual and collective social action.
- Share their ideas with other community stakeholders—near and far.
- Work for positive impact and change in support of the development and sustainability of their communities.
- Participate in workshops and dialogues.
- Think critically about how their active civic engagement might enable positive change in their own communities and beyond.
- Plan and develop actions that they believe will make a positive difference in the welfare of their communities.
- Share their ideas with various audiences.
The Atlanta site is Next Generation/Atlanta (NextGen/ATL). It has been composed of two groups, with participants from:
- Booker T. Washington High School, who have been working on a website-based oral history project.
- Benjamin E. Mays High School, who have been working on a video documentary project.
The mission of NextGen/ATL is to help students to build their historical knowledge, develop a critical framework for their perspectives about their communities, and ground those frameworks within the cultural frameworks of their own local communities even as they expand those frameworks in global scope.
The idea is to leverage their capacities as problem-posers/solvers and communicators by enhancing their expertise in the use of digital technologies as the youth identify community-facing actions that they deem meaningful.
NextGen/ATL listens to and supports the next generation of youth in preparing themselves to be leaders of change in making a better world. The effort is to help youth participants to:
- Enhance their knowledge about the history and culture of their own community.
- Engage actively with the concerns, needs, and interests of their community within the context of their city, the nation, and the world beyond.
- Use digital tools to build their capacity to pose and solve problems in evidence-based ways.
- Communicate their visions and ideas for civic engagement in multi-media, mutli-modal ways to various audiences, locally and beyond.
- Figure out what it means to them, as individuals and as a generation, to work for change in making a better world for themselves and others.
The core expectation with this initiative is anchored in the belief that when youth participate in these types of activities, we help them to build knowledge, expertise, and experience as near future leaders who are preparing themselves to engage actively at whatever levels of their societies that they may choose.
The core priority of NextGen/ATL is to create stronger linkages among:
Securing human rights and the rights of citizenship
Securing the rights of communities to tell their own stories
Active Civic Engagement
Encouraging youth to be active and responsible members of their communities and conscientious citizens in our democratic society.
NextGen/ATL activities are designed to help youth, as rising leaders in the pipeline, to:
- The contexts and conditions of life within their own neighborhoods—past and present.
- The contributions and achievements that have sustained these communities and offered strength for the city, the nation, and the worlds beyond.
- Articulate community concerns, needs, and interests.
- Design strategic actions that the youth deem meaningful and capable of sustaining and developing their neighborhoods as vibrant places to live, work, play, and thrive.