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Centering Youth Leadership to Transform Teaching and Learning

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WOKE Project

In efforts to disrupt the continuing cycle of harm experienced by low-income Black and Brown youth, our Healing through Justice model lays the foundation for the Working on Knowledge and Equity (WOKE) Project. The WOKE Project seeks to build restorative and positive school climates through healing-centered approaches to teaching and learning with a strong focus on students’ lived experience and leadership. This is a new learning movement that centers on young people who identify as survivors, and their communities, as assets. 

Teachers are supported in engaging students in designing and implementing a curriculum that centers on the lived experiences of students and their communities. The WOKE Project approach blends social-emotional learning grounded in positive youth development, restorative practices, and relevant and engaging learning opportunities that tie to pressing issues in the community that are top of mind for young people.


  • CU/VOYCE has piloted the WOKE Project across five Chicago Public Schools that span predominantly Black and Latinx communities on the northwest, west, and south sides of the city.

  • This past school year, over 200 students and 6 educators were engaged in developing 8-week projects that explored issues of race and identity with the backdrop of the 1619 project, and created connections to what it means to be counted in the 21st Century.

  • Students engaged in community-based field work to educate community members on the importance of the 2020 Census, and advanced efforts to Get Out the Count in their communities. 



To learn more about WOKE please contact Maria Degillo at or at 773-583-1387

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