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Trailblazers' Forum:
Youth Civic Engagement 

In a world where knowledge is power, The Trailblazers' Forum: Youth Civic Engagement program emerges as a transformative initiative aimed at empowering youth aged 12 to 16. Rooted in the rich history and resilient spirit of the Freedom Schools of the Civil Rights Movement, our program has a dual focus on civics education and reading proficiency. We intend to equip young leaders with the tools to advocate for themselves and their communities effectively while enhancing their literacy skills.

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Our Values

At The Trailblazers' Forum: Youth Civic Engagement program, we are guided by a set of fundamental principles that shape our actions, decisions, and educational approach:

Empowerment: We believe in equipping our students with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to become active, informed, and impactful members of society.

Inclusivity: We are committed to fostering an environment where all students, regardless of their background, feel valued, respected, and heard.

Legacy and Heritage: We honor and celebrate the rich history, struggles, and achievements of Black leaders and communities, ensuring their stories are acknowledged and passed down to future generations.

Civic Engagement: We prioritize the development of civic awareness, encouraging students to engage with, understand, and contribute to the societal structures around them.

Social Justice: We stand firm in advocating for equality, justice, and fair treatment for all, instilling in our students the importance of challenging injustice and championing rights.

Community: We strive to build a supportive, collaborative, and nurturing community where students can learn, grow, and explore their potential in a safe and encouraging space.

Leadership: We aim to nurture future leaders by providing them with opportunities to lead, inspire, and make positive changes in their communities and beyond.

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The Trailblazers' Forum: Youth Civic Engagement seeks to empower youth by providing a comprehensive, engaging, and inclusive educational experience through our Freedom School inspired Weekend Program. Rooted in the rich history and resilient spirit of the Freedom Schools of the Civil Rights Movement, our program aims to:

Educate: Provide a curriculum that emphasizes Black history, civic rights, social justice, and community leadership, ensuring students are well-versed and informed about the past, present, and future contexts of these topics.

Inspire: Ignite a passion for civic engagement, leadership, and social justice among students, encouraging them to aspire to be change-makers within their communities.

Empower: Equip students with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to actively participate in civic activities, advocate for social justice, and lead initiatives that contribute to societal betterment.

Celebrate: Honor and uplift the rich heritage, achievements, and contributions of Black communities, ensuring that students are anchored in a proud legacy as they navigate their civic journeys.

Build Community: Create a supportive and collaborative environment where students can safely explore, learn, and grow, forging connections with peers and mentors that last beyond the program.

Through this program, we aim to nurture a generation of informed, engaged, and empowered leaders who will carry forward the torch of social justice, civic engagement, and community leadership, making impactful strides towards a more equitable and inclusive society.

About the Program:

Why Apply?

Stipend for Participation:

The Trailblazers' Forum: Youth Civic Engagement program is a unique initiative designed to empower youth aged 12 to 16. Dive deep into topics like:

  • Civic Engagement and Black History

  • Government and Voting

  • Grassroots Organizing and Advocacy

  • Community Engagement and Leadership

  • Receive an inclusive and empowering education that emphasizes Black history, civil rights, and social justice.

  • Engage with a curriculum crafted by experts and taught by a diverse group of dedicated volunteers.

  • Foster political awareness, challenge racial segregation, and advance the cause of civil rights.

We believe in recognizing and rewarding the commitment and enthusiasm of our participants. All selected students will receive a stipend of $115 for their active participation in the program.


  1. Be between the ages of 12 and 16 years old.

  2. Fill out our user-friendly online application form.

  3. Submit a recommendation letter from a teacher, counselor, or community leader.

  4. Optionally, share a short video expressing your interest or showcase your community service or activism portfolio.

  5. Indicate if you require financial assistance beyond the stipend.


  • Application Deadline: February 9, 2024

  • Notification of Selection: February 15, 2024

  • Orientation Session: February 21, 2024 - Online

  • First Session: February 24, 2024 - Location TBA


1. What is The Trailblazers' Forum: Youth Civic Engagement program? Answer: The Trailblazers' Forum: Youth Civic Engagement program is a transformative initiative designed to empower Black youth aged 12 to 16. The program offers a comprehensive curriculum focusing on Black history, civic engagement, and community leadership, aiming to inspire and cultivate the next generation of leaders.

2. Who can apply for the program? Answer: Students aged 12 to 16 from urban areas are eligible to apply. We are looking for passionate, curious, and dedicated students interested in learning how to make their communities better.

3. Is there a cost to participate? Answer: No, there is no cost to participate. In fact, all selected students will receive a stipend of $115 for their active participation and completion of the program.

4. How long is the program? Answer: Program participants will meet one Saturday per month for four hours. There will also be two virtual meetings on a Wednesday night during the program time period. Program runs from February to May 2024

5. What will the curriculum cover? Answer: The curriculum delves into topics such as Civic Engagement and Black History, Government and Voting, Grassroots Organizing and Advocacy, and Community Engagement and Leadership.

6. Who will be teaching or presenting during the program? Answer: The program will be taught by Haley Taylor Schlitz. The program will also feature guest speakers from various levels of government, public policy, media, and the nonprofit sector. These esteemed professionals will share their expertise, experiences, and insights with the students.

7. What is the application process? Answer: Interested students need to fill out an application form, answering questions related to their interest in the program, academic background, and extracurricular activities. A recommendation letter may also be required.

8. When and where will the orientation take place? Answer: The orientation meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, January 30, 2024. Further details regarding the location and time will be provided to selected participants.

9. What is expected of students during the program? Answer: Students are expected to actively participate in all sessions, engage with guest speakers, work collaboratively on projects, and present their findings at the end of the program.

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