JusticeFest: BLTN NextGen Louisville Youth Pitch Community Lending Spaces

Jun 3rd, 2022 | By | Category: BLTN NextGen, Spring / Summer 2022
Heather Jones
BLTN NextGen Louisville Site Mentor
Jefferson County Public Schools High School English Instructional Coach
Louisville, KY

BLTN NextGen Louisville members presented their Outdoor Learning and Lending spaces project at the March 2022 JusticeFest in Louisville. JusticeFest is a local event which showcases the activism of area youth and is supported by JusticeNow and the Kentucky Derby Festival. The mayor of Louisville, director of the Kentucky Derby Festival, and superintendent of Jefferson County Public Schools were among the key speakers. 

Approximately 30 teams of students pitched their proposals to panels of potential supporters. JusticeNow and the individual groups selected the panelists based on the needs of the projects. Panelists pledged either financial support or resource connections after the presentation. In the next several months, the youth will follow-up on these pledges to continue their work with Outdoor Learning and Lending spaces.

BLTN Director Beverly Moss had a unique vantage point: the judges’ table. “Participating as a judge at JusticeFest gave me hope for the future in the midst of a trying past couple of years,” she remarked. “The young people who participated in JusticeFest, especially the Louisville BLTN NextGen group, model what it means not just to talk social justice but to be active leaders in building a socially just community.”

Louisville students’ pitch at the 2022 JusticeFest

Our students also created a display table at the event to share flyers, free books, seed packets, and a sample lending house. This allowed family members, panelists who were there for the other groups, community leaders, and guests to see the work of our students. As a result of participating in JusticeFest, the students have been invited to meet with the Chief Academic Officer of JCPS, showcase their work at multiple Kentucky Derby Festival events (Fest-a-ville and the Derby Festival Parade), and participate in Kentucky’s WE Day youth empowerment event.  

Jefferson County Public Schools’ Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Carmen Coleman, invited students to a roundtable discussion regarding possible systems to allow students to either earn certificates or transcript line credit for work beyond the classroom and/or incorporating these types of projects into classes. They connected their work to the standards which are taught in a traditional classroom setting, opportunities they have had (or lacked) in classes in the past, and reflected on the reasons they are more passionate about this type of work than work in a classroom setting.

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