MISSION & BACKGROUND

Empowering Youth, Exploring Justice (EYEJ) drives social justice reform by empowering young people to advocate for change. Mai Moore and June Antoine founded the organization in 2013 in response to the growing needs of children in Cleveland’s underserved communities. Their vision, inspired by the preventable death of Trayvon Martin, remains the same in 2021: to give children a louder voice in resolving issues of social justice. By raising awareness and fostering meaningful connections between young people and local leaders, EYEJ aspires to create an equitable and inclusive world.

OUR WORK

EYEJ continues to make an enormous difference. Through the devoted work of volunteers, donors, and staff, its keynote programs are affecting the lives of thousands and creating or planting the seeds for change all across the Cleveland community.

  • YOUTH ONLINE DISCUSSING JUSTICE: Through this carefully designed and research-based monthly program, teenagers from 17 public schools and recreation centers meet regularly with trained professionals to engage on a wide array of relevant topics including toxic stress, conflict resolution, civil rights, and personal finance. On average, a majority emerge feeling “passionate” about the subjects, and 78 percent of participants say they develop skills to make improvements in their lives in and out of school. “I’ve taken what we’ve talked about and applied [it] to how I live,” said a junior at Cleveland’s
    MC2 STEM High School.
  • EYEJ YOUTH COUNCIL: First convened in 2017, this group of young people continues to brainstorm solutions to the challenges Cleveland’s youth face every day. Its members, trained in critical thinking and public speaking, have achieved notable successes raising funds, presenting to community leaders, and attracting coverage by local media. Its focus during the COVID-19 pandemic is bridging the “Digital Divide,” helping minority families gain access to the high-speed internet needed to attend school and compete on the job market. Its members spent hundreds of hours on that task in 2020 and now aspire to raise $20,000 in an “Empower” campaign to improve research and propose solutions on broadband accessibility.
  • EYEJ SPEAKS: This 10-week speaker series, launched on Facebook Live in June 2020, features thought leaders, academic professionals, corporate representatives, and a variety of activists engaging young people in discussions about timely issues of social justice in Cleveland. To date, the series has been viewed by 20,000 people in three states, with an estimated reach over 32,000, and generated nearly 1,000 engagements. EYEJ is proud that the series includes young people, thereby giving them a voice in the solutions to problems that affect them.
  • DIGITAL ACCESS MAP PROJECT: This project, led by Microsoft consultant Casey Morris and run hand-in-hand with the EYEJ Youth Council, will provide the public with a timely and detailed portrait of broadband accessibility in Cleveland. It will include all telecom providers and offer insight at the census-block level along with demographic data, directions to free wireless hotspots, and a scoring system illuminating where lack of access is severest. The project aims both to inform legislative action and be of use to the public at large.
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