Shout Outs

For years, WKCD kept track of upcoming grant opportunities and awards for middle and high school students. For better or worse, we've decided to drop this feature. To tell the truth, it's been hard to come up with a compelling list every month or two. We've been astonished (and saddened) at how few substantive grant and award programs there are for young people who want to think big and make a difference. For a reliable, ongoing list of what is available do see

On the other hand , we've decided to round up each month a small collection of articles, resources, and examples of youth voice that synch with our commitment to saluting the contributions of America's adolscents and supporting first generation students.. These "Shout Outs" will first appear on the WKCD homepage and then be archived on this page.



August 2015

The Story Behind the Absolutely "Worst Day Ever" Poem The first time you read Brooklyn high school student Chanie Gorkin's poem,"Worst Day Ever," it comes across as contentious. It begins: "Today was the absolute worst day ever/ And don't try to convince me that/ There's something good in every day/ Because, when you take a closer look/ This world is a pretty evil place." But if you read the poem again from the bottom to the top, the message flips. That clever twist is what made the poem go viral. In a recent interview on NPR's The Take Away, Gorkin explains why she wrote the poem and her surprise at the response.

Summer of Science "School is out, but science is everywhere." That's the tagline for a new online feature at the New York Times. A recent post describes an encounter with a venomous tree frog in Brazil. Another probes a dying star's remains. A third describes looking for clues to early life in an underwater volcano. "Bear viewing never gets boring," scientist Jenna Schnuer writes about her visit to Katmai National Park in Alaska, where the bears on's bear-cams live. More and more public schools are starting and expanding honors programs, including honors colleges that give students some of the perks of private schools without the exorbitant tuition. "While they're hardly secrets," writes Frank Bruni of the NY Times, "they don't get quite the attention from college applicants--most notably from those fixated on the Ivy League and its ilk--that they deserve." This new web site fills that gap.

Unlocked: An Investigation into Juvenile Incarceration and Its Alternatives Reported over four months, "Unlocked" is a three-part investigation into alternatives to juvenile incarceration, produced by young people at the award-winning Youth Radio. Their investigation documents how moves away from juvenile incarceration nationwide are affecting youth and the system, sometimes with unintended consequences. Youth Radio is a nationally acclaimed media production company that trains diverse young people in digital media and technology.

Adobe Youth Voices Awards Started in 2006, Adobe Youth Voices (AYV) engages youth across the globe in developing digital media to drive change in their communities. Each year, AYV recognizes the best of these youth-produced media. Among this year's 15 winners, a Palestinian teenage refuge named Majed recalls the day a fire destroyed the refugee camp in the Iraqi desert where he lived with his family for five years ("Better Than Baghdad"). In her collage "Representation Matters," 17-year-old Asian-American Valerie Kao urges the media to "go beyond exclusive standards on beauty, race, and other elements of self-identity."

Five Steps for Bringing Educational Justice to Your Community Started in 2006, Adobe Youth Voices (AYV) engages youth across the globe in developing digital media to drive change in their communities. Each year, AYV recognizes the best of these youth-produced media. Among this year's 15 winners, a Palestinian teenage refuge named Majed recalls the day a fire destroyed the refugee camp in the Iraqi desert where he lived with his family for five years ("Better Than Baghdad"). In her collage "Representation Matters," 17-year-old Asian-American Valerie Kao urges the media to "go beyond exclusive standards on beauty, race, and other elements of self-identity."

Five Steps for Bringing Educational Justice to Your Community Last year, parents, students, teachers and community members in Los Angeles achieved a huge victory: they successfully pushed the LA school board to adopt the "Equity Is Justice Resolution," which will direct the distribution of new state funding to prioritize the highest-needs students and schools. A new, short, bilingual video--from the Schott Foundation for Public Education and the Community Coalition--highlights the campaign and the dedicated parents and young people who made equity the guiding principle of their city's school funding system.

Uncovering the Tripwires to Postsecondary School Success (PDF) This remarkable report by 60 self-selected Kentucky middle and high school students and college undergraduates--all members of the Prichard Committee Student Voice Team--uncovers the unacknowledged barriers behind the state's troubling postsecondary graduation rates. In addition to poring over the latest research and data, the team interviewed academics, policymakers, parents, teachers, administrators and, most notably, students statewide to understand the challenges inherent in the postsecondary transition experience. See also an excellent article about the report by one of its high school authors.

September-October 2015

What Middle-Schoolers Think About the Pope Middle-schoolers and Pope Francis have a lot in common. They love animals. They're anti-mafia. And they have some pretty enlightened ideas about what it means to be compassionate. On the eve of Pope Francis's visit to New York City, WNYC (the city's public radio station) talked to a group of students at Saint Saviour Catholic Academy in Park Slope, Brooklyn, about the "People's Pope," and what big issues he should take on.

Radio Rookies Talk About Romance and Relationships For years, WNYC has provided a platform for the award-winning Radio Rookies, a citywide program for NYC youth. In a new series, Radio Rookies turns up the volume on the challenges of teen love and relationships, both when they soar and when they crash. First Loves features four young people who are learning for the first time what it means to be in a healthy relationship. In What I Want, 15 young people show that when it comes to figuring out love, the devil is in the details. If you've never been in a serious relationship before, how do you know what you want? In Crushed Teens and Dating Abuse, Radio Rookies report on the impact of abuse on their lives and their families.

Being 12: The Year Everything Changes Here's another Radio Rookies series you won't want to miss. Everyone knows that 12 can be a tough age. Kids shed layers, test new roles, and transform before our eyes as they try on new identities. Their brains and bodies hit overdrive. Romances bloom and fade. Friendships mean the world and loneliness hurts. And school gets harder. The stakes ramp up in so many ways. Radio Rookies' "Being 12" brings to life the experiences of an array of young New Yorkers.

Kids on Race: "People Think I'm Supposed to Talk Ghetto, Whatever That Is As part of "Being 12," Radio Rookies took up the special issue of race. After a year that saw high-profile police shootings plus the deadly attack on a black church in South Carolina, middle school teachers told WNYC their classrooms were abuzz with personal and sometimes difficult conversations. And they didn't always feel prepared to handle what came up. In this video, we hear directly from the students. They answer the question "who am I?" Their answers will surprise you.

Everybody's Different For more than 30 years, New York City's Youth Communication has trainied a diverse teen writing staff to provide content with special relevance and appeal to marginalized youth. It has also evolved to reach audiences through video, the web, books, and curricula. This short film about Johileny Meran, a disabled and homeless Brooklyn high school honor student, was recently voted a web favorite and aired on public television (Channel Thirteen). Click here to read the story Johileny wrote for YCteen.

Young Activists Getting Results—in Chicago, Across the Nation For more than five years, a determined group of young people has demanded that University of Chicago Medicine open a trauma center on the South Side. From Ferguson, Missouri, where the "Black Lives Matters" movement took off, to the South Side of Chicago, where Fearless Leading by the Youth launched the trauma center campaign, young people are leading the call for justice. And increasingly across the country, they are strategically amplifying their message to get results.

California’s Upward-Mobility Machine The University of California is struggling with budget woes that have deeply affected campus life. Yet the system’s nine colleges still lead the nation in providing top-flight college education to the masses, according to the New York Times. This excellent article explores in depth what these U. of C. colleges are doing to insure that their students thrive, regardless of their backgroundand today's less than bright data around diversity—and higher education and what needs to be done. The article includes several videos of first generation college students talking about their experiences.

Homework: A New User's Guide This NPR story maps out six, research-based polestars that should help guide you to some reasonable conclusions about homework. How much homework do U.S. students get? How much do students in other countries get? How much homework is too much? Does homework improve students' performance? What kind of homework is most effective?


November 2015


The Displaced Nearly 60 million people are currently displaced from their homes by war and persecution—more than at any time since World War II. Half are children. This New York Times multimedia journey in text, photographs and virtual reality tells the stories of three of these children: Oleg in Ukraine, Chuol in South Sudan, and Hana in Lebanon. Where does their resilience come from? Or perhaps resilience is a concept supplied by adults, Jake Silverstein of the Times writes, who would like to believe that children will overcome the terrible experiences we foist upon them.

Youth Voices on a Post-2015 World This UN-sponsored report is the result of consultations with diverse groups of young people in 12 countries—including young people living in poverty, conflict or post- conflict situations, and those living far from global decision-makers. Heading the list of issues most critical to the youth were equality and freedom. "I see a world where equality is everyone, everywhere, every day," one participant said. Other top issues included fair, responsible, and accountable government; environmental stability; the right to be healthy; peace; and quality education.

Unequal Education Revisited In 1992, youth at NYC's Educational Video Center produced Unequal Education for national PBS Series, “Listening to America with Bill Moyers.” Their film revealed the stark contrast in resources and opportunities offered to students in two Bronx middle schools—one in a middle-class area and one in a low-income community—in the same district. More than twenty years later, the crew reunited to produce Unequal Education Revisited, bearing witness to the long-term impact that inequities plaguing our society—in education, justice, and healthcare—have on those struggling to survive.

Youth Voices for Justice Rise at Rally The "Justice or Else" gathering held before hundreds of thousands of people on the National Mall on October 10 featured the voices of emerging new leadership in America. Many said the overwhelming success of the gathering had the footprint of youth all over it. In fact, what was striking at the demonstration was the absence of traditional civil rights leaders. The diversity of the young audience participating in the rally included not only Native and Latino faces, but also Asian, African, and the Caribbean. And despite the hue of their skin, many of them wore shirts that read, “Black Lives Matter,” a movement that played an important role in the rally.

December 2015

Learning Network Editorial Contest 2015 Winners Students 13 to 19 years old responded to The New York Times' first teen Editorial Cartoon Contest with humor, wit and irony to comment on the issues they care about: the 2016 presidential campaign, the Islamic State’s rampage in the Middle East, gun violence, education inequality, global migration, the California drought and more. The most popular topic, by a long shot? Donald Trump. From the almost 500 entries, judges selected 5 winners, 17 runners-up, and 26 honorable mentions

Teens Challenge Muslim Stereotypes Donald Trump's outrageous remarks, the shootings in San Bernadino, the Paris attacks, and the Syrian refugee crisis have put Muslims—and Islamophobia—in the crosshairs like never before. One way to dispel harmful stereotypes, of course, is to listen to the stories and experiences of real-life Muslims. In this Speak Out from New York City's Youth Communication, Muslim teens share their experiences in an effort to set the record straight.

Youth Lead the Change – Participatory Budgeting Boston: A Student’s Perspective In January 2014, the City of Boston launched the first youth participatory budgeting process in the U.S., allowing teens and young adults to decide how to spend $1 million of the city’s capital budget. The youth propose ideas for improving their communities, develop the ideas into concrete proposals, and vote on the best ways to make Boston a better place. Laura Correa-Franco, currently a freshman at Emmanuel College, participated in this process in both 2014 and 2015.

Film Club | ‘A Conversation About Growing Up Black’ Imagine strangers crossing the street to avoid you, imagine the police arbitrarily stopping you, imagine knowing people fear you because of the color of your skin. In this five-minute Op-Doc video, “A Conversation about Growing Up Black," African-American boys and young men speak openly about what it means to be a young black man in a racially charged world and explain how they feel when their parents try to shelter and prepare them for a society that is too often unfair and biased.

Floyd Little Double Dutch Steps Up Last month, on a balloon-littered floor in Newark, a D.J. blasted rap music while squads of 8-to-18-year-old girls turned ropes, eggbeater-style at the first International Double Dutch League Thanksgiving Tournament. Double dutch, a jumping game involving two ropes, goes back a few centuries and possibly to ancient times. In the 1970s, a former NYC police sergeant fell in love with the street version of the game and created rules to make it a competitive sport.

January 2016

Democracy Is a Verb Youth in Chicago's Mikva Challenge talk about their political transformation into activists, determined to join the politial process by being active participants in elections (including this year's presidential election), community problem solving, and policy-making programs. This youth-produced video was part of Mikva Challenge's 2015 fundraising campaign, as well as a powerful tribute to youth making a difference.

Young Culture Critics Recently, the New York Times Learning Network challenged teenagers to go out and experience works of culture that were new to them, then write about it. . Over 1,600 students took up the offer. The winning submissions ranges from “South Park” to Mozart; an American Airlines on-board meal to a graphic novel about Jeffrey Dahmer; a video game that “dismantles the fluid morality of other RPGs” to a Valentino ready-to-wear show that “interweaves the diverse cultures” of Africa and Italy.

Girls Speaking Up for Human Rights Teen Voices, a program of the international WomensNews, delivers the direct, authentic voices of thousands of teen girls in Afghanistan, Kenya, Uganda, Morocco, Kenya and the United States. While all the stories featured here speak to the larger issue of human rights of teens, they touch a very personal moment about what it means to be a girl today.

Temporary Housing For Young People, By Young People Homelessness is hard enough, but being a young adult and homeless brings its own set of challenges. No longer eligible for family shelters, 18- to 24-year-olds can be targets of theft and assault by older homeless adults, experts say. In Boston, a new homeless shelter just opened for young adults only. One thing that makes Y2Y special is the staff — every one of them is a young adult.

February 2016

Another Kind of Girl In this short documentary, a 17-year-old Syrian films an intimate portrait of life in a Jordanian refugee camp, where she has lived for three years with her mother and six siblings. "I’m filming from my own personal perspective,"Khaldiya explains. "I live in the camp, I am within the camp, and I know the camp. An outsider will miss a lot of the deeper meanings because they haven’t felt what it’s like to live here."

Summer's Choice We all remember the “bad kids” from high school: the pregnant teen, the kid who was always getting into fights, the truant student, or the one who just couldn’t keep up with the rest of us. We take kids who can’t seem to stay on track and write them off, dismissing them with summary labels. This Op-Doc video profiles one of those kids, a talented art student named Summer Jordan, who attends Black Rock High School in the Mojave Desert town of Yucca Valley, California.

The Only Girl in School to Spark an Interest in Welding Kalei Kipp is the only girl in the welding program at Cedar Crest High School in Pennsylvania. “It’s different from every other class that’s offered at the school, and it’s kind of dangerous and neat,” explains Kalei, who is considering a career in welding. This short documentary video was made by students who are part of PBS's Outside the Box series, aimed at challenging gender stereotypes.

Ten Things I Learned From New York City's Youngest Voters WNYC is engaging in a year-long set of conversations with young voters, the high school class of 2016, who are just turning voting age. "Young people don't vote!" you say. That may be true, but what young people say today lands in the zeitgeist tomorrow. The first installment in this series is gleaned from three months of conversations with seniors at Curtis High School in Staten Island, Millennium Brooklyn High School, and Bronx Collegiate.

Students Say Racial Hostilities Simmered at Historic Boston Latin School With court-ordered desegregation of public schools unfolding violently across this city in the mid-1970s, Boston Latin, then about 90 percent white, began admitting more minority students, remaining a place of relative calm in a city engulfed in protest. But in the last two weeks, the school, a beacon of high achievement founded by Puritans in 1635, has emerged at the center of a new discussion of racial tensions.

March 2016

New SAT, Same Old Anxiety The College Board recently revised the SAT in hopes of making it more straightforward and aligned with high school curriculum. But student anxiety about the exam remains the same. Hear two juniors at West Brooklyn Community High School talk about the new format and how crucial the SAT is for them realizing their dreams. Both will be first generation college students.

Our 100 Most Popular Student Questions for Debate and Persuasive Writing In anticipation of the NY Times' third annual Student Editorial Contest, the Learning Network recently offered the 100 most-commented-upon questions they've ever asked that call for persuasive writing. Many of the topics are familiar: technology, video games, sports and gender issues. Others are classic debate issues like government regulation and gun violence. Which broad topic, though, consistently engage students the most? The answer: school.

25 Teenagers Recommend Readings for Women’s History Month Here, in honor of Women’s History Month, the Times' Learning Network asked the 25 teenagers on their nationwide Student Council to search the Times and find the most interesting pieces they could on the broad topic of gender. They unearthed everything from a 1911 report on the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire to current articles, videos and essays on Hillary Clinton, campus rape debates, gender pronouns, abortion, Title IX, and parenting.

Teen Coders Honored Nationwide For Creating Original Apps Over 1,700 students signed up for this year's Congressional App Challenge, a competition meant to encourage U.S. high school students to learn how to code by creating their own applications. The apps covered an enormous range of topics and uses, from saving water during a drought to connecting agricultural workers with jobs. Here are the winners, state-by-state, along with the link to each app’s demonstration video.

We asked, you answered: What happened when teachers went too far? Being a teacher can be frustrating. Having a frustrated teacher can be upsetting. The education newsletter Chalkbeat has been taking a look at the ways school discipline policies play out in classrooms, and spent time asking students and teachers about moments that changed them—times they just lost their cool, or saw others lose theirs. Here are a few of those stories. "I always tried getting on her good side," said tenth grader Rachelle, "but for some reason I was always on her bad side."

April 2016

Where Will Young Voters Impact the 2016 Election? Parties and other political groups often overlook the votes and energy of young people even where youth can have a decisive influence on the outcome of the race. CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement among young Americans) is providing data-driven insights about the states and congressional districts where youth are poised to have a disproportionately high electoral impact in 2016.

'Unprecedented' Youth Climate Case Against Government Moves Forward A federal judge in Oregon recently ruled that a lawsuit brought against the U.S. government by a group of youth, ages 8-19, can go to trial—a case climate activists call "the most important lawsuit on the planet right now." The young plaintiffs state that the federal government is violating their right to life, liberty, property, and public resources by enabling continued fossil fuel extraction and use.

Girls for Equity Gender Too often, when we talk about issues facing girls, the conversation fails to recognize the unique challenges many girls encounter as they deal with systems rooted in racism, sexism, and structural poverty. This report elevates the voices of girls and young women of color, their priorities, and the solutions they suggest to the barriers they face.

Student Voices on Identity & Belonging “One of my goals for students this year is to provide writing experiences that encourage young people to identify as writers and thinkers,” writes Philadelphia teacher Joshua Block. Block keeps a blog of his students’ work (and his work with them). Here he shares some of their remarkable essays about identity and belonging.

The Mary Jane Mindset: Rookies Report on Marijuana In this podcast from WNYC’s Radio Rookies, youth reporters Temitayo and Gemma speak with nearly three dozen high school students who smoke weed to learn more about what they call "the Mary Jane mindset." They caution parents: “If you see a joint in your kids’ room, slow down. That doesn’t tell you anything right there. It’s the other choices they are making around weed that will tell you what to worry about.”



Shout Outs



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“There’s a radical—and wonderful—new idea here… that all children could and should be inventors of their own theories, critics of other people’s ideas, analyzers of evidence, and makers of their own personal marks on the world.”

– Deborah Meier, educator