BLTN NextGen leaders, mentors, staff, and other supporters gather at the end of the kick-off at Bread Loaf’s Vermont campus.

“By demonstrating their own capacities as leaders, researchers, analysts, poets, storytellers, and community documentarians,” says Bartels “BLTN NextGen youth will put their voices at the front and center of public policy debates. Their work will help change dominant narratives that underestimate the talent and potential of vulnerable populations.”

“Given the conditions of our world, we need young people with courage and commitment who also have a strong understanding of their communities,” said Jacqueline Jones Royster, the Atlanta team leader and a member of the BLSE’s Advisory Board.

Ultimately the project will look and speak uniquely to the role of networks in reducing inequality, says Dixie Goswami, director of BLTN NextGen. Goswami observed that by the end of the four-day launch, the BLTN NextGen youth had already found power in connection.

One participant, Akwelle Quaye, from Louisville, said, “Within two hours of being surrounded by all the incredible individuals at NextGen, I was drafting a poem and planning a documentary. Seeing everyone put themselves out there for the communities and ideas they care about made me want to do the same.”

“I’ve never been part of anything like this,” added Lily Lopez from Lawrence, Mass. “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.”

–Photos by Yeager “Teddy” Anderson ’13.5