Rappaport Center Hosts Teen Leadership Program

Summer Leadership Co-Director Justice Williams; Michelle Harper, Rappaport Center; and students Devonte Lewis and Iseme Oseni

8/14/2009

The Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service at Suffolk University Law School hosted The City School of Dorchester’s Summer Leadership Program, which teaches teens that, individually and collectively, they are powerful agents of social change.

“The Rappaport Center’s mission of promoting public service among the law school community is closely aligned with The City School’s mission of helping Boston-area youth give back to their communities and make meaningful change in our society,” said Michelle Harper, director of public interest and pro bono programs at the Rappaport Center.

Diverse backgrounds

During the intensive seven-week Summer Leadership Program, a diverse group of 60 teens unite to bridge social barriers and empower themselves through hands-on leadership training, classroom learning, internships at local nonprofits, and community action projects throughout the city.  The teens are led by a team of five teachers and 13 youth leaders.

Building upon existing skills

“Our goal is to work toward the transformation of each young person who participates,” said Justice Williams, co-director of the Summer Leadership Program, which is in its 15 year.  “The youth enter the program with various skills and strengths, and we build upon those skills so they are equipped to continue transformation beyond the Summer Leadership Program.”

The Summer Leadership Program aims at connecting young people around four main issues of social justice:

  • Health Disparities
  • Immigration
  • Environmental Justice
  • Violence and Liberation Movements

“We push the fact that education is key,” said Justice.  “Every young person wants to learn, and the way to keep them motivated is to develop strong relationships with them.”

Law School provides model

Justice was delighted that the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service hosted this year’s Summer Leadership Program.  “Conducting our program at Suffolk Law School was truly a blessing,” said Justice.  “It helped our students to see themselves in a different environment and exposed them to additional vehicles to achieve social justice.  The people at Suffolk Law were very welcoming, supporting us with all the resources that we needed.”

“The Law School is committed to supporting diversity initiatives and establishing strong pipelines from our city’s public schools to the law school,” said Harper.

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