Helping High School Students Bring Equity to their Communities
April 22, 2022 (PHILADELPHIA, PA) – Steppingstone Scholars (Steppingstone) and the Wharton Undergraduate Division of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) hosted its first ever Equity Summit on April 22, 2022. The Summit invited 9th to 12th graders to a day-long event at the Wharton School to build connections and passions as they explore the principles of equity-centered work. Through discussions, workshops and hands-on experiences, the students uncovered ways to turn theory into practice in their lives, as well as shared best practices and reflected on equity in their communities. Steppingstone President Sean E. Vereen, EdD; Wharton School Dean Erika H. James; and Wharton Global Youth Program Executive Director Eli Lesser were onsite to welcome the students. Keynote Dr. Brandi M. Baldwin spoke of her experience as a psychology and business professor turned entrepreneur tackling the world’s most relevant business challenges: diversity and inclusion, motivating millennials to level-up their leadership, and advocating for equity in all levels of business.
“This Summit was the next step in our partnership with Wharton to help students in Philadelphia overcome systemic racial barriers that they face in their schools and communities,” said Sean E.Vereen, EdD, President of Steppingstone Scholars. “We work for and need to listen to the students of this region around issues of equality and inclusion. After a long period of isolation we need to support students’ engagement and voice. We hope this Summit results in students bringing new ideas and learnings back to their communities, and we are grateful to Wharton’s partnership in hosting these important conversations and hands – on experiences with us.”
“It was a privilege to convene such an enthusiastic group of Philadelphia high school students on our campus to explore the issues and opportunities that are central to creating equitable and inclusive environments in our schools and communities,” said Wharton School Dean Erika James. “Through efforts like these, we can work toward ensuring equal access to the knowledge, networks and resources that will shape the next generation of leaders.”
Throughout the day, students engaged in community and partnership building through access to experts and practitioners in the DEI field, workshops, and networking. The activities were designed to enlighten students through the exploration of actionable equity – centered practices, and also empower students to utilize these concepts in their school and home communities. The workshops focused on six key themes: Healing Our City, Tech Bias, Advocacy in the Arts, Campaigning with a Purpose, Know Your Rights, and LGBTQIA+ Advocacy.
Workshops were led by partnering organizations, including:
- Bebashi – Transition to Hope hosted a workshop on LGBTQ+ inclusivity training.
- Collective Climb hosted a workshop focused on proactive applications of restorative justice in our schools and society.
- Divulge Alliance hosted a workshop using digital arts for social change.
- La Casa Latina at the University of Pennsylvania hosted a workshop on grassroots organizing in Philadelphia.
- LGBT Center of the University of Pennsylvania hosted a workshop on advocating for the LGBTQ+ community.
- Mazzoni Center hosted a workshop – Yes, PLEASE! LGBTQIA affirming healthcare and mental health services.
- Mural Arts Philadelphia’s Art Education program hosted a workshop on the integration of advocacy in the arts.
- Penn Women’s Center at the University of Pennsylvania hosted a workshop on the impact of gender and intersectional identities on our everyday lives.
- Slay Therapy LLC hosted a workshop on trauma competency – applying trauma principles in education.
- University of Pennsylvania Office of Social Equity and Community hosted a workshop on restorative equity work.
- World Affairs Council of Philadelphia hosted a workshop on equity through a global lens.
To further inspire students, Dr. Brandi, the CEO of Millennial Ventures Holdings and former Wharton Lecturer, provided the keynote address. The host of the “Diversity and Confusion” podcast, Dr. Brandi is the founding visionary for the Calling All Allies Project (CAAP), an innovative initiative that empowers organizations to address racial inequality by making necessary, positive change in the areas where culture and climate intersect with Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI). Dr. Brandi also is the author of “Put in Work: Gain Respect, Influence Others, and Get Results as a New Leader,” and “Authentic Ally: A Guilt – Free Guide to Becoming an Ally for Racial Equity.
About the Wharton School:
Founded in 1881 as the world’s first collegiate business school, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania is shaping the future of business by incubating ideas, driving insights, and creating leaders who change the world. With a faculty of more than 235 renowned professors, Wharton has 5,000 undergraduate, MBA, executive MBA, and doctoral students. Each year 13,000 professionals from around the world advance their careers through Wharton Executive Education’s individual, company – customized, and online programs. More than 100,000 Wharton alumni form a powerful global network of leaders who transform business every day. For more information, visit www.wharton.upenn.edu.