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4 Ways High School Students Can Become Social Justice Leaders

4 Ways High School Students Can Become Social Justice Leaders

There has never been a more important time for us to consider the needs of others.

Michael S.
Michael S.

The past year has been marked by a devastating pandemic, an outcry for social justice, and an economic crisis. But…there is good news: you can still make a difference!

Let’s make 2021 a year of doing good. Supporting those afflicted by the disasters of 2020, young people have a real opportunity to think of ways to give back. And with dwindling options for in-person community service due to the pandemic, raising money for a cause you’re passionate about is a much-needed way to help the community while abiding by safety precautions.

Here are some tips on how to get started with your very own fundraising event:


Trying to change the world can feel overwhelming. To discover your niche, #StartSimple. You can take simple steps to make a big impact. Combine your hobby, special skill, and desired impact to make a profound mark on those around you.

To #StartSimple, ask yourself the following questions (with some examples in italics...)

  • What hobby do I most enjoy?
    • "For fun, I love to play competitive tennis."

  • What is a special skill of mine?
    • "I am particularly skilled at bringing people together."

  • What impact would I like to make? (e.g. Housing the homeless, feeding the elderly, tutoring underserved youth, or raising funds for cancer research).
    • "I would like to raise funds for military veterans recovering from mental health wounds like post-traumatic stress."

  • Which of these hobbies or special skills can be experienced in a virtual or socially distant setting?
    • "Tennis can be played in a safe, socially distant setting because players stand on opposite sides of the court."

  • Which of these hobbies or special skills can be leveraged to make an impact to improve the lives of others?
    • "I can create a tennis tournament fundraiser to help build rehabilitation centers for veterans to receive treatment."

Think Globally, Act Locally

Now that you have established your hobby, special skill, and preferred area of impact through the #StartSimple checklist, it is now time to think globally, but act locally. Thinking globally should mean thinking about the profound impact your event can make while thinking locally helps you get started. If you’re reading this in New York City or nearby, you’re in luck: NYC is a hub of global philanthropy, which means starting local is even easier. Here are some ways to get local:

Think Globally, i.e. brainstorm how making an impact in your community might make a difference at the city-wide, national or global level. 

  • "I am passionate about the issues facing military service members serving in the Middle East as well as the issues they face as they rehabilitate at treatment centers across the United States."

Act Locally, i.e. brainstorm specific ways to design your event, spread the word, and connect with an organization your event could benefit, etc. Here are some strategies: 

  • Pitch your event to institutions you are already a part of such as your apartment building, school clubs or religious institutions.
    • "I can reach out to the Board of Directors of my apartment building, the neighbors on my floor, the Spanish Club and Model UN clubs at my high school, and my place of worship to see if they would like to get involved in my event."

  • Reach out to local nonprofit organizations in your neighborhood or city by introducing yourself and your idea for an event. Many nonprofits offer the public the opportunity to host an event on their behalf. You can also search the web for large foundations or nonprofits in your city/state who have a mission aligned with your interests. Make a list of these organizations and find out which ones which invite members of the public to create events on their behalf. Then reach out to these organizations, to see if they can provide a network of people, resources, and guidance to make my event a success.

  • Rally friends, family, and community members to get behind your event. The best way to start recruiting folks to engage in your event is by acting locally. Make a list of all your friends, family members, and community members who would rally behind your effort to do some good!

Create an Action Plan

Now that you have nailed the #StartSimple checklist and are now attempting to think globally while acting locally, it is time to start your plan for doing good, whether on paper or on the computer.

Techsoup.org offers a four step process to creating your action plan:

1. Set a Goal and Make a Budget:

  • Goal: set a reasonable (i.e. impactful but achievable) fundraising goal with a specific dollar amount. This way, your donors and supporters are motivated to help you reach your objective.
  • Budget: make a list of all the equipment, supplies, food or other needs for running your event. Be conservative by overestimating the expenses you anticipate incurring and make sure you account for unexpected expenses.

2. Choose the Right Type of Event:

  • Consider COVID: ensure your event follows the social distancing guidelines. This may mean a virtual event is the best way for you to make your impact.
  • Consider your Audience: accommodate expected event participants by training them on Zoom, for example. You want to make sure the event is accessible to all who would like to join!

3. Decide on How you Will Collect Donations and Contact Information:

  • You can use basic tools to collect donations like PayPal or Venmo, but check out the following alternative donation collection platforms by clicking here.
  • You can use Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets to track your participants’ contact information, but check out the following alternative database platforms by clicking here.
  • It is essential to track donations and attendees to properly thank everyone for attending your event! Additionally, you should ask the nonprofit partner with whom you are working to help you send out acknowledgement letters which thank donors for their gift and provide them the necessary tax information.

4. Promote your Event

  • Social Media: leverage platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn to spread the word about your event!
  • Text / Email: texting and emailing friends and family to join your effort is a nice, personalized way of inviting folks to get involved!

Study Models of Success

It is helpful to emulate a model of success when starting out. This way, you know the mistakes to avoid and pick up great tips. Seek out entrepreneurs, nonprofit professionals, and friends and family who have led fundraising events of their own. Connecting with these folks can help you fine tune your ideas and ensure you #StartSimple, think globally and act locally, & create an effective roadmap for a successful event..

Creating and leading your own event to serve others will make a lasting difference in the world and uplift your community during these uncertain times. Give back in 2021 in a fun and impactful way!



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