Individual applications to join the EYEJ Youth Council are due July 12, 2020.

Partner with Us

“We cannot charge the future, if we are not plugged into the present.”

EYEJ Youth Council’s statement
on current events and our immediate focus
June 19, 2020

About the EYEJ Youth Council

In 2017, hailing from all across Cleveland, 19 youths ages 15-25 applied, interviewed, and were selected to be part of EYEJ’s Youth Council. The purpose of this group was for these youth to have a place to assemble to brainstorm solutions to issues, injustices, and challenges that they and other youth in their community faced. The Youth Council originally partnered with a Partnership for A Safer Cleveland and received funding from the Larry Doby Youth Fund through the Cleveland Indians. Through a customized and intensive process the Youth Council members were taught leadership, public speaking, teamwork, research, policy, programming, and fundraising skills. The Youth Council focused on creating positive change in programming and policy making in Cleveland on issues pertaining to Toxic Stress, Police/Youth Relationships, and Youth Independency (Life Skills). In April of 2018, the EYEJ Youth Council premiered a unique presentation that included data, research, and storytelling to Chief Calvin Williams of the Cleveland Police, other Cleveland Police Commanders, and members of the Cleveland Indians along with over one hundred civic, sports, and business leaders. Included in this presentation, which asked for a total of $140,000, the Youth Council expressed the desire to continue to work to implement the proposed recommendations in a proactive approach in such a way to not only help youth in Cleveland but to set them up for greater life success. 

In the summer of 2018, the Youth Council was represented in 14+ media/press appearances by organizations such as Plain Dealer, WKYC, IdeaStream and more. The Youth Council also conducted additional presentations for the U.S. Attorney General of Northeast Ohio (STANCE) meeting event, the Cleveland Police Commision yearly event and many many more. Members of the Youth Council were also invited by Sherrod Brown to visit Washington DC, in which they had the opportunity to meet many government dignitaries with whom to share their work.

Since the presentation in April of 2018, approx. $20,000 was funded through Tegna Foundation and individual donors. With this money, the EYEJ Youth Council focused on the recommendations received at their presentations, in order to help with building awareness of the issue topic areas that affect Cleveland youth. 

In 2019, The EYEJ Youth Council conducted the following:

  1. January 19, 2019: Chantal Brown and Mai Moore featured on WKYC
  2. February 2019: Maranda Priah and Mai Moore featured as speakers at Tri-C Youth Symposium
  3. April 26, 2019: Edgewater Kick Back – partnered with Popeye’s Chicken, where youth from the City of Cleveland connected in activities and discussion around social justice issues
  4. April 17, 2019: Millennial Impact Event – where the Youth Council was featured and explained their initiatives and recommendations for the city. They raised $500 at this event with over 70 millennials from around the world coming to support their cause.
  5. June 14, 2019: Sophia Higgenbottom featured at EYEJ’s For the Love of Humanity Event
  6. August 2019: Youth Symposium – Chantal Brown featured as speaker
  7. September 23-25, 2019: Partnered with WKYC, thanks to the Tegna Foundation and created 4 videos showcasing 4 EYEJ Impact 25 Youth Council members individually and their stories to expanded awareness about the EYEJ Impact 25 Youth Council and their work – Chantal Brown, Maranda Priah, Ron Miller and Mallory Wilks
  8. September 2019: Mai Moore nominated Chantal Brown who was the recipient of the TSOP (The Soul of Philanthropy) Young Adult Award and Chantal was featured in an Exhibit in their Art Showcase
  9. September 15, 2019: Chantal Brown featured in Plain Dealer re: Two exhibits at the Cleveland History Center honor those who give nationally and right next door
  10. September 9, 2019: Chantal Brown featured on WKYC: Celebrate Those Who Give Back:
  11. The story of The Soul of Philanthropy Youth Philanthropist Honoree
  12. September 2019: EYEJ Kick Back event – partnered with MyCom to establish a fun youth event where youth could discuss social justice issues and build awareness about themselves and their focus areas
  13. October 17, 2019: WKYC Interview with Diamond Bottoson (EYEJ Youth Council Member) and Mai Moore
  14. January 2020: We are EYEJ Video produced by many youth of EYEJ but mainly EYEJ Youth Council member; Mallory Wilks showcasing youth of EYEJ and their stories

Current State and Plans for the Summer of 2020

This summer the Youth Council is shifting its focus to the topic of digital connectivity. Due to the recent coronavirus pandemic, it has become evident that many families do not have access to the resources that would allow them to sustain healthy and productive lifestyles, with African American families being disproportionately affected by these issues. Connectivity issues are extremely harmful when it comes to education, as many children do not have the proper resources to participate in remote learning and therefore are unable to receive sufficient education during this time. Two-thirds of children in the Cleveland Municipal School District (CMSD) do not have appropriate e-learning devices and of the 38,000 students and 27,000 families in the CMSD, 40% of those families do not have access to broadband internet. Without proper education, the academic and life success of Cleveland youth will be greatly inhibited. 

The Youth Council’s goal for this summer is to assist in achieving broadband accessibility and internet connectivity throughout the Cleveland area, through programming and policy implementation (see Objectives list below). The fundraising goal of the Youth Council is to raise $20,000 to help support the campaign and to further development and research on connectivity in Cleveland. Of the $20,000 raised, $12,000 will be given as stipends to the Youth Council for their contribution to the connectivity project. All fundraising events are associated with the Empower Campaign. The Campaigns effort is focused to target audiences around the nation, primiparity the youth, to receive donations.

Objectives of the 2020 EYEJ Youth Council Team

  1. Assist in achieving broadband accessibility and internet connectivity throughout the Cleveland area.
  2. Raise additional capital to support the program.
  3. Work with policy makers to have the EYEJ Youth Council’s programming recommendations turned into policy.
  4. Work with media constituents such as WKYC to create programming to educate the public on subject content areas on which the EYEJ Youth Council is focusing.
  5. Deliver a culminating presentation to relevant stakeholders that addresses the progress of the Youth Council as well as its findings and recommendations resulting from its completed work.
  6. Further development and research on connectivity for youth in Cleveland.
  7. Work closely with EYEJ, the EYEJ Connectivity Task Force, the Executive Director and larger EYEJ team to tie into the mission and goals of the larger organization to make a positive impact.
  8. Develop important skills related to team building, research, communication, public speaking, outreach, advocacy, campaign planning, and policy implementation.

EYEJ’s progress with regard to these objectives will be measured both qualitatively and quantitatively. Feedback will be collected from Youth Council members and stakeholders on a regular basis, helping to gauge the impact the Youth Council is having on 1) the self-efficacy of its members and 2) the perceptions that stakeholders have of youth as civic leaders.

Current Youth Council Team

  • Diamond Bottoson
  • Chantal Brown
  • Corrin Cooper
  • Ron Miller
  • Maranda Priah
  • Mallory Wilks
  • Melissa Batz*
  • Jonah Chapman-Sung*
  • Sarah Edwards*
  • Colin Geatz*
  • Sam Groube*
  • Yumi Ndhlovu*
  • Batian Pienaar*
  • Jothsna Sabbasani*
  • Sriram Satyavolu*
  • Denakpon Tchobo*
  • Amrutha Yarlagadda*
  • (Additional members TBD)

*EYEJ Intern

Additional Info