Poetry Reading
October 19, 2017

Andover Bread Loaf partners on new initiative

Ford Foundation backs Next Generation Leadership Network
by Tracy Sweet

Twenty-one future leaders from around the country came together at the Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English to launch a new initiative within the Bread Loaf Teacher Network (BLTN). Supported by a $400,000 grant from the Ford Foundation, the new project— BLTN NextGen—is an innovative leadership network for high school students that will engage youth as allies and advocates in writing and acting for social and educational change.

Andover Bread Loaf, a vibrant hub of the Bread Loaf Teacher Network, is a founding member of the Next Generation Leadership Network, a national initiative to develop and support youth from the most under resourced communities who will inform and lead social justice movements across the country. According to ABL Director Lou Bernieri, “NGLN affirms and enriches ABL’s Writing Leader Program, the flagship youth development program in our organization. Now our writing leaders have partners from around the United States in their ongoing struggle for educational equity and social justice.”

“This grant is a tremendous accomplishment for the Bread Loaf School of English," said Middlebury President Laurie Patton. “In supporting Bread Loaf, the Ford Foundation emphasizes the teachers’ network as a quietly but deeply effective medium of social change, and creates new places for that network to be planted and grow.”

It’s amazing how great this network has become in such a short time. It’s allowing us to think big. We’re starting a movement.

Lily Lopez Bread Loaf Participant

According to a news release from Middlebury, youth teams and community mentors from six BLTN NextGen sites—Lawrence, Mass., Louisville, Ky., Atlanta, Ga., Vermont, rural South Carolina, and the Navajo Nation—participated in workshops and planning sessions over the summer. “We gathered to learn from each other, to collect our stories, to share our histories, and to form a powerful network of strong youth leaders,” said Doug Wood, program officer for the Ford Foundation’s Youth Opportunity and Learning Division.

Lily Lopez, from Lawrence, is one of the high school participants. “I’ve never been part of anything like this,” she said.

According to Emily Bartels, BLSE director, these young people will take on some of the toughest challenges and inequities within their own communities through a variety of communications. Ultimately the project will speak uniquely to the role of networks in reducing social inequality. Through narrative, poetry, research, documentation and other storytelling modes, BLTN NextGen youth will put their voices at the center of public policy debates, said Bartels. “Their work will help change dominant narratives that underestimate the talent and potential of vulnerable populations.”

Categories: Outreach

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