Levi Strauss & Co. joined forces with Scholastic and Generation Citizen in November of last year to ask students across the U.S. how they would create change if they were in charge.
“Scholastic was thrilled to partner with Generation Citizen and Levi Strauss to showcase to students that change starts on a local level,” said Ann Amstutz Hayes, SVP, Scholastic National Partnerships. “Students across the country were energized around community action and their extremely thoughtful and enthusiastic responses provide a window into the vibrant future of our democracy.”
Meet the six student winners of the “What Will You Run For?” contest, who shared compelling visions of what the future might hold. Each student was also given a $1,000 grant to support the causes of their choosing.
Eunia L., 7th grade
Little Neck, New York
What office would you run for: Mayor
What issue would you tackle: School shootings shouldn’t even be a problem that we face, yet it is … Think of this, a world where gun violence doesn’t exist, and everyone lives in peace and harmony. Wouldn’t you want that for your children? We can make this a reality, our reality. Our city can be safe, and we will never have to worry for our children’s safety at school again.
What group will receive your $1,000 grant? My essay was about school safety, so I believe we should use the funding for student counseling. We have two clubs in my school that could work toward resolving conflict and counseling students, mentorship and peer mediation … We can also use the funding for our school paper to publish articles about school safety and mental health to spread awareness.
Jenna H., 9th grade
What office would you run for: Mayor of Wilmington, Delaware
What issue would you tackle: The current coronavirus pandemic has created a great amount of public fear and apprehension, largely due to the lack of access to reliable information and the spread of misinformation and myths. This made me realize that my city does not have an effective way to communicate between the people and the local government regarding public health. I think creating a public health registry would help people get the right information and make sure everyone can stay safe in times like this.
What advice would you give to other students interested in creating change within their own local communities? If you want to create change pick something that you know will affect you or something that you are passionate about. You want to be able to relate to the problem so you know what you want to do and how you want to fix it. Let your opinions be heard no matter what the cause is.
What group will receive your $1,000 grant? Westside Family Healthcare, a local organization that provides healthcare to people regardless of their ability to pay.
Liberty M., 7th grade
What office would you run for: Texas state legislator
What issue would you tackle: Our educational system in Texas is not one of the best. There is no denying it. We rank #37 in the U.S. in education … Kids are our future, and the better they are educated the more likely they will go out and become activists or entrepreneurs. They are going to solve the problems of our world, but they won’t if we don’t teach them how.
What advice would you give to other students interested in creating change within their own local communities? Just find something that you’re either passionate about or something that bothers you. I was always bothered about how our school system wasn’t able to educate us as well as it should be able to. Once I researched the problem enough, I got more and more passionate about this subject.
What group will receive your $1,000 grant? Creative Action, a nonprofit that brings kids from different socioeconomic backgrounds together to help them foster their academic, social and emotional development, and encourages them to get more involved in their communities and schools.
Tristen S., 9th Grade
What office would you run for: School board
What issue would you tackle: Every year nearly 900 million trees are cut down to provide the raw materials for paper. This number is alarming, unsustainable, and certainly isn’t good for the planet. The good news is, it can be reduced through recycling. I have a plan on how the students of Montoursville Area School District alone can save 250 trees per year … My goal is to reduce recyclable materials going in waste by 75 percent.
What group will receive your $1,000 grant? I am going to give my grant to my school to start up a recycling program.
Zachary S., 8th grade
San Mateo, California
What office would you run for: California state legislator
What issue would you tackle: One local issue I am passionate about is the lack of affordable housing in California. The issue is important to me and my community because it is a growing issue in our state, and shelter is one of the basic human necessities. According to ProsperityNow.org, “Since 2005, California has produced just 308 housing units per 1000 new residents.”
What advice would you give to other students interested in creating change within their own local communities? Some advice I would give to other students interested in creating change within their local communities would be to find other people who care about the same issue and work with them to educate your government officials about why it matters. You also need to be relentless in your approach, because creating change is hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
What group will receive your $1,000 grant? Bridge Housing, a nonprofit organization that creates housing in California and throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Angela Z., 12th grade
What office would you run for: Harris County District Attorney
What is the most important thing you learned from researching and writing your essay? While I knew how human trafficking was a great concern, I didn’t realize how much power our systems have to stop—or at the very least alleviate—the concern. It has been truly enlightening to see how I can make a difference in the future and I am honored that I have been chosen to shed light on this often-unspoken truth in my community.
What advice would you give to other students interested in creating change within their own local communities? The biggest piece of advice I could give is to not be discouraged if the changes they are making are not immediately materialized or not entirely tangible. In many instances, social issues cross disciplines, are slow moving, and are not rooted in one single cause. Instead, the bigger focus can be on how community relations change through their work.
What group will receive your $1,000 grant? United Against Human Trafficking.