EYEJ drives social justice reform by empowering young people to advocate for change

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.

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.

Through this carefully designed and research-based monthly program, 6-12 graders from 27 public schools plus 5 recreation centers meet regularly with trained professionals to engage on a wide array of relevant topics, including mental wellness, conflict resolution, civil rights, and personal finance. On average, a majority emerge feeling “passionate” about the subjects, and 78 percent of participants say they developed skills to make improvements in their lives in and out of school.

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
JUNIOR
MC2 STEM HIGH SCHOOL
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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 in raising funds, presenting to community leaders, and attracting local media coverage. Youth Council members are well informed on Cleveland’s social policy issues and leverage research insights to speak to their advocacy work and local community organizing efforts.

The Council’s 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 started as a 10-week speaker series launched on Facebook Live in June 2020. The panel-style format features thought-leaders, academic professionals, corporate representatives, and various activists engaging young people in discussions about timely issues of social justice in Cleveland.

The program’s first season generated more than 20,000 total Facebook Live views from June to September 2020 and over 72,000 social media impressions across three channels! Fifty-nine percent of viewers are from Ohio, although the program had strong viewership from California and New York.

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.

The EYEJ Millennial Task Force is a group of young professionals from diverse backgrounds who seek to have a positive impact on Cleveland’s youth and social justice generally. It coordinates directly with other EYEJ operations such as Youth Online Discussing Justice (YODJ) and EYEJ’s Connectivity Initiative to inform fundraising efforts, marketing campaigns, and other strategic initiatives and partnerships with the unique perspective and voice of the Millennial generation.