PeerForward convenes Activators at Facebook

PeerForward was built on the belief that high school students can solve challenges in their schools and communities, reshaping the future for their classmates and creating a positive learning culture of hope and promise. We recently combined our deep experience coaching and training young adults to achieve consequential goals with the power of the world’s most influential social media platform to co-host the Youth Activation Summit with Facebook Education on April 26-27.

More than 200 youth leaders ( the “Activators”), educators, researchers, nonprofit leaders, and funders gathered at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. to elevate the concept of Youth Activation, exchange ideas, and create action plans to take back to their schools and communities.

“As I consider all the conversations at the Summit where I could ‘see’ the wheels turning, the ideas forming, the attitudes shifting, I am in awe,” said Keith Frome, Co-founder and CEO of PeerForward. “I also was struck by how many of the students expressed gratitude for the opportunity to connect with others who are equally motivated to drive change in their schools and communities.  An authentic identity was forged among the Activators and they vowed to carry the momentum of this movement back with them and to stay connected with each other.”

The Activators represented organizations such as Future Farmers of America, Student African American Brotherhood, Peace First, and Student Voice, to name a few. In one of the most powerful moments of the convening, four youth leaders shared their personal stories of how they became Activators. You can view the panel discussion, which appeared on Facebook Live, here or a two-minute excerpt of PeerForward Alum Moises Urena’s story here.

The youth leaders will continue their work on an online platform hosted by Facebook. Facebook Education also promised additional continuing support. Teams of students and educators from 11 school districts created action plans to address mutually identified challenges and pledged to return to their districts to execute the plans. The districts – urban, rural, large, small, public, charter ­– each chose an issue important to both educators and students.

Among the topics the district teams plan to tackle: reducing absenteeism, increasing the number of students eligible for extracurricular activities, increasing awareness and practice of empathy, and increasing the number of students who pursue postsecondary education.

We know from our work at PeerForward that youth-driven initiatives can be very effective. Last year, for example, high schools with teams of students trained by PeerForward saw 26% higher completion rates of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid [FAFSA] compared to similar schools without the program. Completing the FAFSA clears a major hurdle for many students, and PeerForward helped unlock an additional $13M in grants and scholarships. This year, we are seeing creative student-driven campaigns produce similar results. At Friendship Technology High School in Washington, D.C., 67% of seniors completed the FAFSA compared to only 9% the year before. Lake Wales High School in Florida saw their financial aid application rate jump 19%, which was the largest rate of improvement in Florida for a school of their size.

We invite you to explore the photo gallery from the Summit, and we look forward to sharing the many stories to come from the participants as they share with the nation the energy, stories, techniques, and achievements of this movement.

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