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Youth Action Michigan

SAC’s Youth Action Michigan is a student-led, youth organizing, social justice initiative that builds self and collective power to create positive change in schools and communities with the support of caring adult allies. Our current focus is to address school pushout and the school-to-prison pipeline in collaboration with the national Dignity In Schools Campaign

Following the research-based “teen advisory council” model of the Neutral Zone and the Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality, the program is intended to give youth more agency in their lives, equip them with 21st Century Skills and create positive change in the community and school.

Contact Anell at to learn how you can get involved.

History and Accomplishments:

Oct. 2016: Fourteen YAM students and six adult allies from Ypsilanti and Jackson 14711517_1834865770078653_3353776375608178282_o
organized a “Capitol Commencement” Tuesday, Oct. 18 to show their support for the Rethink Discipline Bill Packages HB 5618-5621 and 5693-5695. Before the session started, cupcakes and postcards were distributed to  each Senator. During the session, students presented graduation caps to Senators, along with a “diploma” of startling facts regarding harsh school discipline. The event was part of the national Dignity In Schools Campaign Week of Action.

Oct. 2016: YAM students facilitate a workshop at the National Dropout Prevention Network conference in Detroit.

Oct. 2015: YAM students host national Dignity In Schools Week of Action events in Ypsilanti and Jackson, recreating the “Zero Tolerance Game of Life” for local school officials, parents and community members. The event was part of the national Dignity In Schools Campaign Week of Action.

July 2015:  YPM youth vote to become a formal SAC program. Youth from Detroit, Ypsilanti and Jackson agree to a new unified name, Youth Action Michigan (YAM).

June 10, 2015:  Youth from Ypsilanti, Jackson and Detroit and other organizations 11009190_10153264719558463_6989410076969895870_ostaged a “Zero Tolerance Game of Life” demonstration on the Capitol Lawn, complete with a jail cell and jumpsuit, judge costume and stations for the classroom, restorative circle, teen court, board of education, expulsion, suspension, juvenile detention and a bank. Two parents directly affected by zero tolerance volunteered and acted as the judge and board member, as youth worked their way through the game sharing how stories of harsh school discipline policies can result in incarceration and school dropout. After each round, students and passersby were invited to debrief. While the game ensued, other students caught up legislators, aides, superintendents and community members, passing out our legislative priorities. Media coverage (great video) can be found here and here.

Spring 2015: Youth Voice Jackson worked on an equity audit, school climate survey and a PSA campaign.

February 13-14, 2015: A YPM youth presents on youth panel for the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing in Phoenix, AZ.

December 2014: Youth Voice Ypsilanti hosts a panel discussion with the Ypsilanti Community High School principal, a high school counselor and staff from the juvenile center.

December 2014: Youth Voice Ypsilanti hosts a panel discussion with the Ypsilanti Community High School principal, a high school counselor and staff from the juvenile center.

November 19, 2014: YPM presents at the Fedele F. and Iris M. Fauri Memorial Conference: Disarming Youth Violence, Strategies that Work.

October 2014: During the national week of action for the Dignity In Schools Campaign, Youth Voice Jackson hosts a panel discussion with youth and adult allies on school pushout issues.

October 30, 2014: YPM presents at annual LEAD conference in Lansing, invited by the NASW.

September 2014: Student Advocacy Center starts a Youth Voice chapter in Jackson at 10686679_10153127515258463_8589900379175214420_nT.A. Wilson Academy. They have 60 meetings during the 2014-2015 school year.

August 7-8, 2014 – YPM participates in at the national Juvenile Justice Youth Summit in Washington DC,  sponsored by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

July 22, 2014 – Student Advocacy Center becomes Youth Power Movement’s fiscal sponsor.

July 18-20, 2014 – YPM members participate in Roots and Remedies with support of Alliance for Educational Justice where they receive training in building community and developing peer leaders.

June 26, 2014 – YPM attends Novi School District Social Justice Week where they work 10420776_10153146477298463_6034699665185924651_nwith Calvin Terrell to understand race and what it means to be an activist

June 3, 2014 – YPM joins Congress of Communities for Listen Up! Event at LA SED in Southwest Detroit. A collective of students discuss education, safety, culture, and community.

May 2014 – Youth from Detroit formed their own organization, called Youth Power Movement (YPM), to continue working to end the school to prison pipeline.

April 21-23, 2014 – Youth from Detroit, Ypsilanti and elsewhere joined together and marchorganized an 80-mile walk for education from Detroit to Lansing to raise awareness about suspensions and expulsions for minor infractions. 125 people participated, including DHS Director Maura Corrigan, and State Superintendent Michael Flanagan.


Winter of 2014 – Student Advocacy Center started a “Youth Voice” chapter at Ypsilanti senwarrenwithyvCommunity High School with training support from the Harriet Tubman Center and the national Dignity In Schools Campaign. In their first few months, students surveyed their classmates and discovered that many did not know about restorative practices, so they organized an all-school assembly to demonstrate restorative circles.


Participate and Support This Work:

We are always looking for youth to participate, particularly if you have been impacted by or are passionate about school suspension, expulsion or pushout.

Interested in being an adult ally? We are often in need of committed volunteer adult allies who can support in a variety of ways, including providing guest leadership training, homework help, event support and much more. Note: Volunteers need to agree to background checks.

We always need donations of healthy snacks for our meetings. Poster boards, huge sticky notes, markers and other tools for meetings are helpful as well.

Contact for information.

 Press Releases

Oct. 18, 2016: Students organize “Capitol Commencement” to urge Senators to pass Rethink Discipline bills.

Oct. 2, 2015: Students organize Zero Tolerance Game of Life Demonstration


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