Following 20 successful years of the Cherry Creek Diversity Conference held annually in Colorado, YCD was created in 2014 to replicate this model for young people across the country.
We’re building a grassroots movement of students and educators addressing social problems, celebrating diversity and making schools safe for everyone.
Through our innovative, youth-driven outreach, we ask students to identify the social challenges they are facing—whether race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, ability and disability, mental health, stereotypes, and more. We then bring together students and teachers from public and private, large and small, urban and rural schools for eye-opening experiences that spark dialogue, insight, empathy and action.
Youth Celebrate Diversity is dedicated to educating and empowering youth in order to advance inclusion and equity for all.
Our mission includes three pillars:
- Education: We believe that education is a fundamental human right, and one of the critical tools every young person needs to succeed in life. At the same time, teens do not always feel safe in their school environments to make the best use of their education; they can often be preoccupied, impacted or even injured by a number of social problems present in their schools. YCD strives to help teens, teachers and community partners address these issues head-on so that every student is free to get the education they deserve.
- Empowerment: We believe that change must come from within a community, and not from outside forces. In this spirit, we work to empower teens and teachers to make a difference in their local schools and communities, addressing the social problems they are experiencing using solutions they have decided meet their needs. We are the opposite of “one-size-fits-all” and we welcome innovative approaches to addressing the issues our teens are facing. YCD provides as many resources, connections and suggestions as possible in this process, but we ultimately work to empower youth to drive change.
- Inclusion and Equity: A young person’s education in high school and college is particularly important to determining his or her future, in the form of earning potential (money), social potential (connections), and political potential (power and engagement). Our vision includes working toward a more just and equitable society that values every human being to achieve equity on each of these fronts.
YCD empowers youth to become leaders and speak out or take action in their local schools and communities and increase appreciation of human diversity. Read more about our organization’s goals and purposes below.
1. Create state and regional conferences for high school youth that celebrate human diversity and provide students with an opportunity to share ideas relating to diversity in a cooperative atmosphere.
Our organization works to bring high school and college students together from public and private, large and small, urban and rural schools to share ideas in a cooperative atmosphere. We believe that through dialogue and collaborative learning experiences, students can address the social issues affecting their schools and communities in a positive manner, and by engaging in dialogue with others, become empowered to take action and improve their local environment for all people.
2. Provide information, workshops and resources on any issue relating to human diversity that might impact a student’s ability to achieve academically or socially, both in and out of the school setting.
Youth Celebrate Diversity takes an inclusive approach to diversity, which we believe encompasses the full range of identities, characteristics, traits, and behaviors that make all people unique.
Our programs and services highlight a wide range of topics that young people encounter and deal with, including race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, political belief, socioeconomic background, religion, age, physical and mental ability or disability, level of education, and family composition.
Youth Celebrate Diversity is a non-partisan organization.
3. Empower youth to become leaders and speak out or take action in their local schools and communities and increase appreciation of all human beings.
The focal point of all programs and services offered by Youth Celebrate Diversity is empowerment. We strive to ensure participants of our events and programs walk away from their experiences enthused, informed, and eager to make an impact in their local school or community.
We recognize that each community struggles with different issues and challenges, and look to support young people in a variety of ways that best match the change they are seeking to make in their local community. Most recently, Youth Celebrate Diversity announced microgrant funding available to attendees of our programs, to help participants implement their diversity commitments and making positive change in their school or community.
4. Establish a supportive network of youth, teachers, educational administrators and community partners committed to honoring human diversity and creating inclusive educational settings.
We believe that people from all walks of life are needed to build strong communities, and we look for partnerships with not only youth but also teachers, educational administrators, non-profit organizations, colleges and universities, private companies, foundations, and others.
Our goal is to build a strong and supportive network of individuals who will provide youth with positive and inclusive messages so they can move beyond the social challenges they face to succeed in an educational environment.
5. Provide teachers and educational administrators with resources and tools to incorporate diversity- and inclusion-related topics, issues and lessons into school curriculum.
We believe diversity awareness and conversations should not only take place in afterschool programs or at special weekend events, but also be interwoven into the daily lives of all young people.
To this purpose, Youth Celebrate Diversity looks for curriculum, lesson plans, and other opportunities for diversity-related issues to be highlighted and discussed in school. Visit our Get Involved section for a library of curriculum high school teachers can use to bring diversity issues into the classroom.