Gateway2change, branch of EdPlus, began following tragic events in Ferguson as a means to empower students to play a leadership role in improving the St. Louis community.
The higher education channel (HEC-TV), in partnership with EdPlus, will provide multiple opportunities for students to be active social reform agents for issues related to race and diversity via Student Summits on Race, Community Service projects and a Sibling School partnership program.
At the first Student Summit on Race event on Jan. 15, 2015, over 100 student leaders from 14 St. Louis area high schools were guided through an intentional process of race dialogue, problem identification and solution ideation before being asked to present solution ideas to the entire group. As a group, students chose to begin a Sibling Schools (Sister & Brother) partnership network across St. Louis to learn from one another and cultivate increased understanding regarding race. On Feb. 25, 2015 student leaders reconvened at Ritenour High School to share amazing success stories from their Sibling school program and continue propelling their positive momentum.
The third event took place on May 8 at the Missouri History Museum with the theme of “Know our History. Create our Future.” Students were able to engage in collaborative activities and be exposed to learning opportunities that helped illuminate the historical context of racial tensions in our community. As the movement has grown, additional high schools (now totaling 20) have joined.
Looking ahead to next year, EdPlus’ goal is to create systems and structures that are both sustainable and impactful for students and the community as a whole. Therefore, they plan to offer a more robust program that includes current schools and also welcomes additional schools. They also plan to help students take their efforts to the next level by adding a “community project” element next year whereby sibling schools will have the opportunity to work on community projects together.
Gateway2change participants aspire to help St. Louis serve as a beacon of hope and exemplar for other communities seeking to show how diversity can serve as a positive, synergistic force to improve people’s lives.