July 12 - August 12, 2016

Mondays - Fridays, 10am - 3pm. Ages 13-18.

Join us for the third year of the Social Justice Leadership Academy 2016, run in partnership by Kite’s Nest and the Staley B. Keith Social Justice Center. The Social Justice Leadership Academy (SJLA) is a five-week summer leadership training for teenagers growing up in Hudson, based on the principles of social justice and youth-led change.

Communities thrive when young people are given real opportunities to take the lead in addressing the issues that impact their lives. This summer, 26 teenagers will come together to step up as young leaders, developing their own visions and voices for change. It’s our mission to inspire and support young people to develop the confidence, knowledge, skills, and collective leadership to build healthy and just communities. SJLA brings together local teenagers from different backgrounds, and primarily youth of color growing up in Hudson’s 2nd Ward neighborhood. Over the course of five weeks, youth collaborate to express their ideas, develop meaningful relationships of trust and mutual support, gain tools for political analysis, identify the issues impacting their communities, express themselves creatively, learn real leadership skills, and connect with inspiring people and organizations.

Program Partners include: Youth FX (Albany, NY); Oral HIstory Summer School (Hudson, NY); Wildseed (Millerton, NY); Left in Focus Photography (Hudson, NY); Truthworker Theater Company (Brooklyn, NY); The Watershed Center (Millerton, NY), Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood and Hudson PROMISE Corps (Hudson, NY), Soul Fire Farm (Petersburg NY), El Puente (Brooklyn, NY), Rock Steady Farm & Flowers (Millerton, NY), Barbershop Talks Radio Show (Hudson, NY). 

If you're interested in joining the Social Justice Leadership Academy 2016, email for an application.



Through hands-on workshops and conversations, we develop our critical awareness and understanding of systems of privilege and oppression. We look at how race, class, gender and power contribute to inequities in our lives and communities. We learn about mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline, food access and insecurity, gender and sexuality, and educational injustice. We learn about historic movements for liberation, youth organizing efforts, and social movements taking place today. Together, we develop our vision for making our community a more healthy, just place.


Throughout the summer we use art to express and explore ideas, to ask questions, to reflect, to share, and to transform ourselves and each other. WE collaborate with professional music producers, photographers, media-makers and poets to write and record songs, shoot photography projects, conduct interviews with our neighbors, produce radio for broadcast, and to write and perform poetry. And we create a space for youth to talk about and reflect on their own experiences, sharing stories of privilege and oppression, of violence and struggle, and of strength and resilience.


We learn about the range of strategies and tactics people use to build power and make change, from grassroots community organizing to working towards political and legislative change. We practice writing speeches and speaking publicly. We learn about the various roles that people play in movements, and we consider our own strengths, skills, and passions.


Every day we prepare food for ourselves and each other, celebrating every meal. We travel to farms in our region to grow and harvest food, asking questions about how food systems impact the health of our communities. In the kitchen, we engage food as a tool for community-building, develop our culinary arts skills, and make connections between the health and well-being of our bodies and our communities. And at the end of the summer we prepare a large meal and event for the public, inviting our families and friends to share in our work and our learning.


Every week we connect with inspiring organizers, activists and artists. We travel to meet other youth groups in the Hudson Valley, Albany, and New York City, sharing our songs and projects, learning about other youth organizing efforts and media projects, and building relationships for future collaborations. Our final week will culminate in a public event, organized and hosted by the teenagers of SJLA to share their work and ideas with the larger community. So far we've partnered with amazing organizations like Youth FX, Found Sound Nation, Left in Focus, Truthworker Theater Company, Soul Fire Farm, El Puente, Barbershop Talks Radio, and more...