Mission: The mission of CrossingBarriers is to develop the leadership skills of students, youth of color and immigrant students and community members to improve education, address community based issues and be agents for change.
Results: Each year as a small grassroots non-profit CB has great impact in education organizing, training young people to be community organizers and become advocates in their schools and neighborhoods. Each year through our workshops and presentations, CB reaches out to over 457 youth, parents, community members, teachers and administrators. Each year CB trains high school students from two to tree sites in community organizing and leadership development to improve the status of education and services in schools they struggle to succeed daily. Past projects include Immigrant Education Rights Project, St. Paul Education Project, Eden Prairie Education Project, Coalition to Close the Achievement Gap in Eden Prairie and organizing immigrant parents in charter schools to be advocates for their children that were facing low quality of education. High school students as Project Leaders designed youth training workshops to empower students as community leaders in their neighborhood schools, community and become comfortable organizing to improve quality of education in their schools. The impact created in the last seven years is building youth voice and parents that were marginalized in public schools and neighborhoods. CB continues to build that voice and trains young people to address failing schools and community issues that impact their peers. CB had great impact through building the voice of the marginalized in the school system through advocacy, legal action and organizing. The main purpose now is to train young people not to be afraid to advocate, organize in schools and services that are failing them.
Target demographics: young people from low-income communities struggling in the school system to learn to organize and increase their leadership skills to advocate in their schools and neighborhood.
Direct beneficiaries per year: We trained 52 high school students over the age of 16 and 35 immigrant parents on advocacy skills to address barriers in thier schools.
Geographic areas served: Minneapolis, St. Paul and metro area
Programs: Youth Leadership and Community Organizing Training for high schools students in Phillips Community Center
CrossingBarriers asked me to analyze and summarize data from Eden Prairie High School and the Eden Prairie School District in 2008. They were involved in advocating for students and parents who complained of discrimination by the school.
CrossingBarriers approach was to seek a meeting with school administrators to communicate students' and parents' experiences and attempt to work with the school district to develop effective strategies for ending discrimination and closing the achievement gap.
My analyses used official school district data to demonstrate that the students and parents' complaints were part of systemic problems that needed to be addressed. CrossingBarriers seemed to be an organization that worked collaboratively with school districts willing to address such systemic discrimination, and challenged the unwilling districts in every way possible.
I was very impressed with the leadership of the organization and the role it played in engaging the community to close achievement gaps in education.