Building Foundations for Redistributing Power: Working with the “Freedom Fighter Project” and “Youth and the Law” (by Ali Magee and Thomas Monti)


Fundraising-treeIn a community that promotes diversity and awareness, it is unfortunately difficult to hear the voices of those in actual need of support. Adolescents, both disadvantaged and not, are an age group that is misunderstood and rarely taken seriously. So how do we redistribute power to them? How, in an age of technology, challenged ideologies, and troubled education systems, do we hand power to those that, on the surface, have little chance of changing it.
Thomas and Ali set out to do just that. Our group attempted to solve, or at least bring awareness, to the troubles that plague this country’s education policies and those that are affected by it.
We both spent their Winter terms volunteering for two separate high schools. Thomas at Roosevelt in St. Johns, Ali at Madison on 82nd. Ali worked with a mentoring program virtually, and developed skills to help her students search for information that wasn’t handed to them directly in their classes. Thomas worked with the Freedom Fighter Project at Roosevelt, a group of young writers dedicated to bringing the stories of their neighbors and communities into formats that were more accessible to them. By joining forces, we attempted to help the Freedom Fighters create a layout of fundraising techniques.
We started by developing an outline for future fundraising ideas and community support projects. By starting the Freedom Fighters with an outline, we left room for them to add to it, to bring their thoughts and ideas, thus giving them a little more creative freedom to move the project in a direction they wanted. Becoming inclusive with the goals of the project was key to encouraging a space of equality.Fundraising-tree
We then set up a Facebook page for the Freedom Fighters, but left it in their hands to create social relationships with Roosevelt alumni, neighboring businesses and supportive community members. By using a platform the students are already familiar with, they can easily build on this page, furthering their community reach and showing their supporters their intent on growth.
Even with all of this energy and care, we were not able to finalize our goals with the Freedom Fighter group. Many struggles plagued us throughout this term. Other members leaving, inconsistent information with community partner leaders, disorganization within the FFP to start fundraising at a reasonable time. All of these hiccups occurred, yet we still tried to continue with our project. We continued because this was a perfect example of “how schools work (or don’t)”. We both recognized that this was a situation in which we could still support the goal of the project while maintaining a sense of structure for the students and their future endeavors.
Redistributing power to a generation of youth is challenging. They have been fed a rhetoric that hasn’t been supportive of students needs. We attempted to create tools and techniques to pull them away from this rhetoric and help them start their own support system. Although our plans were never put in play, we are both thankful we had an opportunity to see the ups, and especially the struggles, of working side by side with a hopeful community group. We hope to work with more youth in the future, to help them recognize their potential and gain their own power, with us comfortably at the sidelines.

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3 thoughts on “Building Foundations for Redistributing Power: Working with the “Freedom Fighter Project” and “Youth and the Law” (by Ali Magee and Thomas Monti)

  1. Great work, Ali and Thomas! Your project is a great example of how challenging civic engagement can be and how it is possible to continue despite your challenges even if it means redirecting focus. This capstone emphasized the idea of redistributing power and its importance, so thank you for showing us how to do so.

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience with the Freedom Fighter group. I can tell you guys were very passionate about your project and you did a wonderful job despite all of the hangups that you experienced along the way. The fact that the two of you persevered and still made an impact despite obstacles speaks volumes. Great job!

  3. Great idea of giving freedom fighter an outline of the step to continue taking. Sounds like you gave them the tools and methods to be the leaders of their fight and continue to be passionate about overcoming their obstacles in life. It very important to always remind people that power is not distributed equally and we have to fight for it to make our voice and opinions be heard.

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