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The YCD Program
What ages is the YCD Program intended for?
The YCD program is intended for middle school, high school, and college-aged students (generally ages 11 and above). It is built upon decades of experience engaging teens in dialogue around diversity, inclusion, equity, activism, and justice.
We are open to working with elementary level educators on adapting the program for younger students. If this interests you, please get contact us to discuss in more detail!
What kind of clubs does the YCD Program support?
YCD supports diversity and inclusion clubs, anti-oppression clubs, anti-racist clubs, gay-straight alliances, gender-sexuality alliances, Black Student Alliances, Native Student Alliances, LULAC clubs, female empowerment clubs, PeaceJam clubs, Interact clubs, interfaith student clubs, Jewish Student Alliances, Muslim Student Alliances, peer counselors, ASL signing clubs, spoken word and poetry clubs, boys and girls clubs, community service clubs, teen parenting clubs … and literally any group of students passionate about inclusion and social justice issues.
What’s critical to us is that students are empowered to define their clubs for themselves, including the club name, goals, and focus. We do not advocate a one-size-fits-all approach for students organizing around inclusion and social justice.
Do I need to have an existing club or group?
Nope! YCD supports students who are looking for guidance on how to start a new group or club, or people who have an existing group but want to take it to the next level. It doesn’t matter whether you are one person, five people, twenty people … the YCD Guide will provide support in all cases.
Do I need to live in Colorado or New Mexico to use YCD’s program or guide?
It’s true, we’ve historically operated events in Colorado and New Mexico. However, we’ve been inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic to make our programs accessible to students and educators across the U.S. so they can organize and act locally, and help advance the fight for inclusion, equity, and social justice everywhere.
Of course, we highly recommend folx involved in this work also consider attending or hosting a YCD conference, but recognize not everyone has the ability to join such events.
If you are interested in working with YCD to create a statewide conference for youth around issues of diversity, inclusion, and social justice, please let us know! Visit the page to start a YCD event in your state for more information.
Does my group need to start the YCD Program at the beginning of the school year?
No, your group or club can start the program at any time. While our guides and approach are designed around the school year, you can adapt the timeline for whatever works for your group.
Does my group need to attend a YCD event to use the YCD Program?
Nope! You can download the YCD Guide, join the YCD network, and follow the YCD Program without ever attending a YCD event. Of course, we think these events are important and powerful experiences, but there are dozens of other opportunities for students to learn and build skills for their work with other organizations.
Does your organization have an agenda?
Yes, we do. We’re all about empowering students working to make their schools and communities inclusive, safe, and nurturing for all identities. You can explore more about our philosophy and perspective by exploring the section who and what we fight for.
Does YCD pick an action project for each group to enact each year?
Definitely not — the barriers to inclusion and social justice within each community and school are different. Some groups may face serious issues connected to homophobia and transphobia; others may face challenges with economic inequality or homelessness. Our program emphasizes local, student-led decision-making around what issue needs to be focused on and addressed through an action project. Each club or group will pursue a unique, independent action project that they have decided is appropriate for their context. We’re here to support and guide as requested along the way.
How do I get started?
Download the YCD Guide here. We’ve worked hard to develop a guide that students and teachers across the U.S. can use. Our guides provide deep knowledge and guidance on:
- creating a club
- strengthening existing clubs
- exercises to explore foundational concepts
- sparking dialogue
- facilitating difficult conversations
- gaining knowledge and skill-building for social change, and
- enacting an action project to make your school or community more inclusive or advance social justice
Joining the YCD Network
Why should we join the YCD network?
Joining the YCD network connects your group to the network of other youth-led groups and clubs working on inclusion and social justice across the country. You also get some free stickers!
Does joining the YCD network cost money?
Nope! You can join the YCD network for free.
Does joining the YCD network obligate me to do anything?
The one thing we ask of every group that joins the YCD network is to share with us information about what action project your group pursued, and how it went. If your group doesn’t get to the action project step, or if your project doesn’t get completed, or if the project doesn’t go well — don’t worry, there’s no penalty. We just want feedback on how your efforts have gone so we can continually improve our program and approach.
Does my group need to be affiliated with a school?
No, affiliation through a school is not required. We’ve had numerous groups experience YCD through youth-serving non-profit organizations, community groups, as well as churches, synagogues, and interfaith organizations. We support young people organizing for change, whether in school or through other spaces and institutions.
Attending a YCD Conference or Event
Does an adult need to attend YCD events with students?
We highly recommend every student group or club have an adult chaperone. However, this is not a requirement if no adult is available to join.
Can a student attend a YCD event alone? Do you have to attend through a group?
Yes, a single student can attend by themselves. We’d encourage students to form a group, whether it be two people or more, so that they have support in their efforts to advance inclusion and social justice. In some cases, we can also facilitate introductions between groups from the same school or community.
Can an adult attend a YCD event alone, without students?
Most of YCD’s events are student-centric and student-led, and intended for students as the audience. If you are an adult who works regularly with youth and would like to attend a YCD conference or event, you can still attend without students, though we’d strongly encourage having at least one or two students join you.
Adults not connected with schools or youth-serving organizations are encouraged to volunteer to support YCD events. We also offer some professional development events for educators from time to time.
Do you offer scholarships or discounts?
Yes, we work hard to ensure YCD programs are accessible to all. If your group is interested in joining a YCD program and does not have funding, please contact us to discuss possible solutions.
Does YCD have conferences outside of Colorado and New Mexico?
We’ve traditionally held in-person conferences in Colorado and New Mexico, but are interested in supporting students who want to create similar events in states across the U.S. If you’re interested in working with us to make that happen, learn more on on how to start a YCD event in your state.
Can groups from other states attend YCD conferences?
Yes, groups outside of a state can travel to join a YCD conference. We encourage you to get in touch with us before registering to discuss. Our conferences often fill to capacity, so we try to reserve most conference space for students from the state where the event is taking place.
Do students need to be fluent in English to attend YCD events?
No. We value linguistic diversity and welcome everyone to participate in YCD events and programs. If a student requires a translator to participate, please let us know and we’ll work with you to make the necessary arrangements. In locations where we have a large number of Spanish speakers, we may also consider having workshops or discussion groups specifically for Spanish speakers.
We also offer ASL interpreters at all our events (when requested) free of charge, so that deaf students can always participate.
Do you offer child care at YCD events?
When requested, we will offer child care or provide funding to cover child care costs, especially for teen parents, so that they may participate in YCD events and programs.
Presenting a Workshop with YCD
Who selects which workshops are featured at YCD conferences?
We are strongly committed to making all YCD events 100% youth-led. Each YCD conference has a Student Executive Committee with 20-some students. This group selects all topics, workshops, and speakers for their conference. YCD’s Board of Directors and staff do not play a role in selecting workshops and speakers for our conferences.
How long are workshop sessions?
Workshops are 60 minutes in length, plus an additional 10 minutes for presenters to administer an evaluation.
How are presenters evaluated?
YCD provides hardcopy evaluations to presenters when they check-in at our events. Presenters distribute these to attendees at the end of each session. YCD collects and tabulates these evaluations. We provide results of the evaluations via email to presenters, usually within two weeks of a conference or event.
Does YCD offer honorariums for workshop presenters?
Every workshop presenter may choose to indicate whether they require an honorarium as part of the proposal process. Each conference’s Student Executive Committee has a budget for their event, to pay for the keynote speaker, performers, as well as workshop presenters. These students decide how they want to allocate their budget. In general, established nonprofits have offered their sessions for free, and independent D&I experts have charged $250 or less to present their session twice at a single conference. It is rare that YCD can afford to pay a single presenter more than $250 for one conference.
If you are willing to present your workshop free and would like the work to be acknowledged as an in-kind donation of services, we can provide an acknowledgement letter for tax purposes.
Does YCD accept workshops from speakers that must travel long-distance for the event?
In general, we aim to feature workshop speakers and presenters from the local community where the conference is taking place. This way, students in attendance build connections with resources they can seek out for more information after the conference. We also have a limited budget as a small non-profit organization, so cannot support long-distance travel.
If you are willing to cover your own travel expenses, you may still propose your workshop for a Student Executive Committee to consider.
Can I volunteer with YCD?
Yes! Our organization relies upon the help of amazing volunteers, and we’d love your help. Visit the Volunteer page for more information on current volunteering opportunities.
Can I attend and volunteer at the same YCD event?
In most cases, attendees at YCD conferences and events are busy the entire day. We require help from volunteers to support these events. Thus, it’s not possible to attend part of the day and volunteer on the same day.
What costs does YCD incur that donations cover?
Our organization operates on a lean budget to keep costs low. For in-person conferences and events, our costs are primarily food (we serve breakfast, lunch and a snack), materials (we provide water bottles and pens to all attendees), and speaker honorariums. We strive to host our events in venues that donate their space. Costs outside of in-person events include support of our Student Virtual Board, development of the YCD Guide, technology to support our programs and website, and curation of ongoing virtual programming for students and educators. We do not have a physical office, and the Executive Director is our only full-time employee, so overhead costs for the organization are extremely low.
Can I direct my donation to support a specific state or event?
Yes, we operate independent budgets for every conference and state where we have in-person events. Donations can be directed to sponsor or support individual conferences in your vicinity, or to sponsor/cover the costs for students and educators in your city, county, or school district. You can also make a general donation to support the development of our Guide and online programming that benefits students nationwide, as well as operating costs.
Is my donation tax-deductible?
Can I donate online with a credit card?
Absolutely! We accept online donations via GiveLively.org here.
Does YCD accept in-kind donations?
Yes! We love in-kind donations from businesses and can use them during our fundraising efforts. Please contact us to explore ways to partner and align your business with youth creating inclusive schools and communities.
To whom should checks be made payable?
Youth Celebrate Diversity
Where do I send cash or check donations?
Youth Celebrate Diversity
7900 E. Union Avenue
Denver, CO 80237
Please also include a note with your personal or company information, so we can provide an acknowledgement letter for your donation.
How did YCD get started? What is its history?
1993: Students and a teacher in a Denver suburb noticed teens across Colorado were struggling with similar social issues, but many times did not have the resources, knowledge, or platform to effectively address these challenges. After creating the Cherry Creek Diversity Conference, word spread across the state, and within a few years the conference had an annual attendance of 90+ schools and youth organizations.
2014: A group of alumni from the Cherry Creek event formed Youth Celebrate Diversity as a non-profit organization to expand on its success and support teens working for change across the country.
2016: YCD began offering professional development for teachers, focused on how they can advance inclusion and social justice within their classrooms and buildings.
2017: YCD hired its first paid, full-time Executive Director, and supported students in creating the Mountain West Diversity Conference (Gypsum) for Colorado’s Western Slope.
2018: YCD supported students in creating the New Mexico Diversity Conference for Youth (Albuquerque). Also, YCD was awarded the 2018 Colorado Governor’s Service Award for Outstanding Non-Profit Organization.
2019: YCD forged a partnership with Colorado State University and local teens to create the NoCoWyo Diversity Conference (Fort Collins) to support students across northern Colorado and southern Wyoming working for positive social change.
2020: YCD worked with CHSAA to create the Colorado Summit for Inclusive Teen Athletics and Activities (Colorado Springs). Additionally, in response to COVID-19 and to make the work more accessible, the organization shifted its focus to supporting local student organizing, action, and virtual programming.
What if my question is not answered on this page?
Contact us! We’d love to hear from you.