Youth-Nex "Youth of Color Matter" Conference

Youth-Nex held its 5th annual conference, “Youth of Color Matter: Reducing Inequalities Through Positive Youth Development," on October 8-9, 2015. Amid national attention on the inequalities facing ethnic minority youth in the U.S., the center convened top scholars, policy makers, educators, and teenagers to the invitation-only conference. The event sparked welcome dissonance and lively conversation over the two days.

As a result of the event's provocative discourse, cohorts in Curry classrooms and the community are abuzz with reactions, questions, and renewed energy.

  • Read the feed at #YOCM15 to see why and for a great summary of conference takeaways. Conference chair, Joanna Williams said it gave her goosebumps.
  • Check out the video below for a glimpse into the proceedings, including the emotional response to White House's David Johns' words to a local teacher. (i.e., Call to Action and Panel 6 Q&A).

RESOURCES PAGE - Links to resources mentioned at the conference including videos that were shown.

ENTER your ACTION ITEMS! See what's been posted.

The conference was live tweeted. Discussion is on-going here (#YoCM15). Join the conversation.

Agenda and speaker biographies


Robert C. Pianta, Ph.D. (Curry School Dean), Patrick H. Tolan, Ph.D. (Youth-Nex Director), DeVanté Cunningham, Joanna Williams, Ph.D. (Conference Chair), and Archie Holmes, Ph.D. (Vice Provost, Educational Innovation and Interdisciplinary Studies)

PANEL 1: Culturally-Grounded Approaches To Positive Youth Development - (Moderator: Nancy L. Deutsch, Ph.D.)
Cultural beliefs, traditions, and pride can play an integral role in promoting positive development for youth from ethnic minority backgrounds. This panel will open with a focus on changing the discourse on youth of color. Then, we’ll hear about connections between cultural values and healthy development for American Indian youth and the benefits of emphasizing cultural pride in natural mentoring relationships among African American youth.

Noni K. Gaylord-Harden, Ph.D. (Loyola University - Chicago) – “Shifting the Narrative on Development in Youth of Color: The Case for a Positive Youth Development Perspective.”

Gaylord-Harden SLIDES ⬇︎


Monica Tsethlikai, Ph.D. (Arizona State University)
“Participation in Cultural and Family Activities Promotes Positive Development in American Indian Children”

Tsethlikai SLIDES ⬇︎


Noelle Hurd, Ph.D., MPH (University of Virginia)
“Examining Natural Mentoring Relationships Among Black Adolescents: A Strengths-Based Perspective to Promoting Psychosocial Well-Being”

Hurd SLIDES ⬇︎


PANEL 1 Q&A - Attendee Questions to the Panel

PANEL 2: An Immigrant Paradox? Civic Engagement Among Immigrant & Undocumented Youth - (Moderator: Tim Freilich, J.D.)
Undocumented and immigrant youth, particularly those from Hispanic/Latino backgrounds, face persistent marginalization in the United States yet many of these same youth are actively engaged in their communities. Panelists shared their views on what engagement looks like, the challenges involved, and what we can do to support the civic engagement of undocumented and immigrant youth.

William Perez, Ph.D. (Claremont Graduate University) – “Reflections on the Civic Contributions of Undocumented Youth”

Suzanne Pritzker, Ph.D. (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work) – “Exploring Civic Engagement Among Immigrant Adolescents”

Pritzker SLIDES ⬇︎


Gloria Rockhold, MA, M.Ed. (Creciendo Juntos) – "Relationship-Building: The Corner Stone"

Rockhold SLIDES ⬇︎


Panel 2 Q&A - Attendee Questions to the Panel


KEYNOTE: Leon T. Andrews, Jr. (Director, National League of Cities (NLC)
“Cities Leaders United to Promote Black Male Achievement”

Andrews SLIDES ⬇︎


PANEL 3: Community Initiatives Supporting Youth of Color - (Moderator: Paul C. Harris, Ph.D.)
This panel highlighted work being done by individuals in local communities to support the positive development of youth of color. Representatives from three initiatives discussed how they work to transform communities and empower young people. The session inspired and empowered us to take action!

Sarad Davenport (Charlottesville City of Promise)
“Changing the Ecosystem to Support Youth of Color: The Promise Neighborhoods Initiative”

Davenport SLIDES ⬇︎


Susana Martinez, LICSW (The Promotor Pathway, Latin American Youth Center-LAYC)
“The Promotor Pathway: An Innovative Client Management Model for Disconnected Youth”

Martinez SLIDES ⬇︎


Wesley Bellamy (Helping Young People Evolve-HYPE / Albemarle County Public Schools)
“From Thoughts to Action: Engaging Young People in the Movement”

Bellamy SLIDES ⬇︎


PANEL 3 Q&A - Attendee Questions to the Panel


PANEL 4 - Youth of Color as Agents of Change - (Moderator: Valerie A. Futch Ehrlich, Ph.D.)
We turned to the real experts for this session – civically and culturally-minded youth. Teens from Make the Road New York (MRNY) and Whatever It Takes (WIT) spoke truth to power in discussions of challenges and opportunities in their communities. MRNY youth discussed how they have organized around issues like police accountability, and teens from WIT shared their entrepreneurial approaches to addressing discrimination.

Whatever It Takes (WIT): Melanie Gonzalez (High School Senior) and Manali Joshi (High School Junior)



Make the Road New York (MRNY): Adilka Pimentel (Youth Organizer) and Darian X (Youth Leader)


PANEL 4 Q&A - Attendee Questions to the Panel


PANEL 5 - Restoring Justice In Our Schools: Positive Youth Development Approaches To The Discipline Gap - (Moderator: B. Leilani Brazil Keys, N.B.C.T.)
Youth of color are disproportionately suspended from school, causing youth to miss critical time of instruction, evoke feelings of hopelessness, and contributing to the “school to prison pipeline.” This panel considered what research and practice tell us about dismantling the pipeline and promoting positive developmental outcomes for youth of color with a focus on youth-centered principles of restorative justice.

Anne Gregory, Ph.D. (Rutgers University) – “Engaging Students in Problem-Solving: A Civil Rights Remedy for Racial Disparities in Discipline?”

Gregory SLIDES ⬇︎


Vickie Shoap (Fairfax County Public Schools) – “Application of Restorative Practices and Restorative Justice in Fairfax County Public Schools”

Shoap SLIDES ⬇︎



PANEL 5 Q&A - Attendee Questions to the Panel


CALL TO ACTION SESSION - (Moderators, Patrick H. Tolan, Ph.D. and Joanna Williams, Ph.D.)
Attendees created action items and expressed closing thoughts.

PANEL 6 - Promoting Educational Excellence for Youth of Color (Moderator: Patrice Preston Grimes, Ph.D.)
This panel featured champions for change who work tirelessly to promote educational excellence for youth of color, both on a local and national scale. This final session brought together themes and lessons learned throughout the conference, emphasizing how an understanding of youth as assets can transform educational trajectories with an acknowledgement of the complex barriers that may be encountered along the way.

L. Bernard Hairston, Ph.D. (Albemarle County Public Schools), Curtis Chin (New York University), and David J. Johns (White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans)

Panel 6 Q&A